The “credible but non-specific” information about a Mumbai-style terror plot being planned somewhere and involving someone may have only emerged publicly last night, but officials are saying it is the reason behind the dozens of US drone strikes against Pakistani territory launched this month.
Officials are saying that the drone strikes as well as NSA wiretaps and a flurry of other measures by European nations all came as they try to flesh out exactly what the plot actually was/is and attempted to foil it.
Which is something of a switch, as usually the US drone strikes against Pakistan are cited as a reason for terror plots as opposed to something aimed at stopping them. The attacks also appear largely to have killed random tribesmen, not high-value targets. Pakistani officials sought to downplay the seriousness of it though, insisting that the whole thing was “more an aspiration” than an actual plot.
173 people were killed in November 2008 during a multi-day siege by militants on the Indian city of Mumbai. Officials have been expressing concern ever since that such a thing could become more common, and the recent “plot,” such as it is, seems to stem from that fear, but officials have yet to point to any group or target for it, insisting that it could be a number of places in Western Europe, or possibly aimed at the United States itself.
Such attacks are particularly problematic because they target “soft” locations with large numbers of people and little security. In Mumbai this meant luxury hotels, but “economic” targets were also suggested as possible in the new plot. The fact that they singled out people from Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Central Asia as possible attackers doesn’t make matters any easier, of course.