Two top Republican Congressmen have introduced a bill to designate Pakistan a “state sponsor of terrorism” as the country is suspected of being linked to the radicalization of the naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent behind last weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Ted Poe (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, introduced the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act on Tuesday.
If signed into law, Pakistan would be listed along with Iran, Syria, and Sudan.
U.S. and Afghan officials, including Afghanistan’s vice-president Sarwar Danesh, have accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary to various terrorist groups launching attacks and fighting the U.S.-led coalition in neighboring Afghanistan, including the Taliban, among others.
In Afghanistan, the strongholds of the most prominent jihadist groups in the country — the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the region’s Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch — border Pakistan.
Authorities believe trips the New York bomber Ahmad Ramadi made to his native Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan in 2005, 2011, and 2013, the last of which lasted for nearly a year, may have contributed to the Islamic radicalization that ultimately led him to bomb several areas last Saturday, injuring 24 people before he was arrested the following day.
Although he visited areas known as al-Qaeda and Taliban hotbeds, no evidence has yet been found that Rahami received military training overseas.
Nevertheless, “suspicion remains that Rahami had outside assistance or training in order to assemble the eight bombs used in the attacks,” reports The Telegraph.
Rahami is believed to have been inspired by former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, killed by the U.S. military in May 2011, U.S.-born al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who was also killed by the U.S. military in 2011, and ISIS.
He has also expressed opposition to the U.S. military operations in Syria and Afghanistan.
While the Afghan Taliban has denied any affiliation with Rahami, ISIS has ignored him and al-Qaeda has not claimed responsibility for his actions.
The Times of India (TOI) reports:
To no one’s great surprise, the needle of suspicion and inquiry about the radicalization of Ahmad Khan Rahimi, the accused New York bomber, has quickly moved to Pakistan, the mother load of terrorism worldwide…
He went to Pakistan, a swamp of radical Islam and an epicenter of terrorism that has produced some of the most toxic extremists in history, typically revered as “heroes” or “freedom fighters” in Pakistan iconography and its fervid media.
Rahami appears to have spent more time in Pakistan, where he was married, than in his native Afghanistan.
As the information about Rahami’s background came to light, Chairmen Poe and Rohrabacher introduced the bill to deem the country a state sponsor of terrorism.
In announcing the introduction of the legislation, Chairman Poe said in a statement:
Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s.
This bill will require the Administration to formally answer this question. The President must issue a report within 90 days of passage detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State must issue a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is State Sponsor of Terrorism or a detailed justification as to why Pakistan does not meet the legal criteria for designation. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Recently, the relationship between the two regional enemies has been further strained after India provided Afghanistan with military aid to combat terrorism.