ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani Taliban militants have warned America that it will soon “burn” while calling for Pakistan’s rulers to be overthrown for following “America’s agenda”.
The United States is convinced Pakistani Taliban militants allied with al Qaeda and operating out of northwestern Pakistani border regions were behind an attempted car-bomb attack in New York’s Times Square on May 1.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing. If confirmed, it would be the first time their members were involved in an attempted attack in the West.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, in a video message obtained by Reuters, repeated a claim of responsibility, saying:
“The movement proved what America could not have even imagined ... It was just an explosive-laden vehicle which did not explode.
“But it (America) will see, all imperialist forces will see that it will explode also and America will also burn,” said the spokesman, Azim Tariq, sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of a rock face and speaking in Urdu.
America’s allies would meet the same fate, he said.
“They can neither eliminate the mujahideen nor jihad, nor they can harm Islam,” he said, referring to Muslim holy warriors and holy war.
“Instead, they will have to die themselves, they will be burned themselves, they will have to dig their own graves,” said the spokesman, sporting a long black beard and turban.
Pakistan has been battling its homegrown Taliban, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban, and who have been accused of numerous suicide bombings killing hundreds of people across the nuclear-armed country.
But Tariq denied responsibility for bombings in public places, saying authorities wanted to malign the militants with such attacks.
Tariq spoke of fighting in various places in Pakistan saying his men were holding their own and the security forces, which he said were being paid with U.S. aid money, were suffering significant losses.
“They are being defeated,” he said.
Tariq did not refer specifically to any attacks abroad, but said mujahideen “wherever they were, in any part of the world” were supporting each other.
Analysts have long doubted the Pakistani Taliban, operating out of remote mountains along the Afghan border, had the sophistication to plan and execute a bomb attack in a Western country on their own.
They can, however, support and train people who are able to travel to the West and carry out attacks. Tariq said the Pakistani people were being sacrificed for the sake of the United States by their own government, which he called un-Islamic.
“Now is a time to remove them from power as soon as possible. All their policies are anti-Islam, anti-people,” he said.
“Jihad will continue as long as the ruling coterie and the unholy army continue to follow the American agenda,” he said.
Pakistan has been cooperating with U.S. investigators trying to determine what links the Pakistani-American man suspected of carrying out the attempted Times Square bombing, Faisal Shahzad, had with militants in Pakistan.
The Washington Post reported that Pakistani authorities had arrested a man linked to the Pakistani Taliban who said he helped Shahzad travel to northwest Pakistan for bomb-making training.
It was not clear if the newspaper was referring to a man officials said earlier was detained in the southern city of Karachi on May 4.
The government has denied that any arrests have been made in connection with the case but security officials said the man held in Karachi, Mohammad Rehan, was suspected of having taken Shahzad to northwest Pakistan to link up with militants.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said despite Pakistan’s recent improved efforts to tackle militants, it must do more.
“We think that there is more that has to be done and we do fear the consequences of a successful attack that can be traced back to Pakistan,” she said.
Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Krittivas Mukherjee