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SLUG: 3-93 Jim Walsh, Terrorism Expert








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INTRO: Security remains high in Pakistan, as authorities continue their hunt for those responsible for a grenade attack on a Protestant church in Islamabad. The blast killed five worshippers and wounded 45 others. The dead include a U-S diplomat's wife and her daughter. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has ordered an intense manhunt, and a meeting to review security measures at the church and other foreign facilities. Jim Walsh is a terrorism expert and research fellow at Harvard University. He tells NewsNow's Pat Bodnar there are many potential suspects.

MR. WALSH: It might be Muslim extremists who are Pakistani natives, who are from Pakistan, who are upset about the war on terrorism or about Musharraf. It may be al-Qaida members who have slipped into Pakistan and organized an attack. And it may have something to do with the October 28th shootings that killed those 16 people in another Christian church in Pakistan. So, unfortunately, there are no lack of candidates or potential motives here.

MS. BODNAR: Clearly this was an embarrassment to President Musharraf. What effect is this action going to have on U-S-Pakistani relations?

MR. WALSH: Well, I don't think it's really going to have much of an impact at all. The president, issuing a statement through the White House, said that this attack -- the motivation for this attack -- was trying to cause a rift in relations between Pakistan and the United States, and that that wouldn't be the case. And, I think, the interests between the two countries are so large and so important, particularly at this time, that it's unlikely that terrorist attacks are going to do much to alter that relationship.

MS. BODNAR: Is there something unusual about this attack, in the sense that it was not a government office, it was not some place that has been struck in the past that terrorists might normally consider targets?

MR. WALSH: Well, I do think it's an unusual attack in that it did attack a house of worship. And there are comments throughout Pakistan and in the Muslim world today condemning the attack, not only because it was ruthless terrorism, but because it was an attack on a religious building. That's unusual. And what it says about the terrorists is that they don't care about the type of target that they have, or they don't care if they kill other people besides Americans. That should tell us something important about who they are and what their behavior is going to be in the future. I think it is an unusual attack in that way.

MS. BODNAR: And what happens next? How are authorities to tell whether this is an isolated incident or if this is part of some sort of planned chain of operations?

MR. WALSH: I think that's the key question. The police have indicated that the people who carried out the attack were not run-of-the-mill mob people, that they had engaged in planning, they acquired their six or more grenades, and executed the attack. So, these are people with some level of organization. And the key question is whether this is just an isolated attack, or the first of a series of attacks. I am sure that is what Pakistani and American officials are concerned about. That may be the root of today's State Department warning about potential future attacks.

And if it is the beginning of a series of attacks, then obviously it is going to be of much greater significance, both for the U-S and for Pakistan, and for people who are working for the U-S in countries around the world.


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