By Daniel Tencer
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 — 1:51 pm
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The Pakistani arm of the Taliban has denied responsibility for a recent series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, instead pointing the finger at Xe Services, the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater, as well as the country’s own security services.
“The Tehreek-e-Taliban are not responsible for the bombings, but Blackwater and Pakistan’s spy agency are behind them,” said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq, according to a translation from Al-Jazeera English.
”The dirty Pakistani intelligence agencies, for the sake of creating mistrust and hatred among people against the Taliban, are carrying out blasts at places like the Islamic university, Islamabad, and the Khyber bazaar, Peshawar,” the Associated Press quoted Tariq as saying.
The Taliban’s new talking point is likely an attempt to capitalize on anti-American conspiracy theories circulating among the Pakistani public.
Blackwater’s “operatives are often viewed by Pakistanis as akin to CIA agents and local conspiracy theories sometimes assert that the US with the help of Blackwater, rather than the Taliban, are responsible for the suicide attacks,” reports the Christian Science Monitor.
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CNN reports that Blackwater denies having any contracts in Pakistan.
“We have no contracts in Pakistan,” Xe spokeswoman Stacey DeLuke told CNN. “Our competitor holds that WPPS (worldwide personal protection services) contract. … We’ve been blamed for all that has gone wrong in Peshawar, none of which is true, since we have absolutely no presence there.”
But the Christian Science Monitor reported on Monday that the company “now provides security for a US-backed aid project” in the city of Peshawar.
Peshawar was the site of a deadly market bombing late last month that left 117 people dead. That attack was one of several in which the Taliban explicitly denied involvement. The group also disavowed an attack last Friday on the offices of the ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency, which left at least 10 people dead.
The notion that some of Pakistan’s terror attacks were “inside jobs” by the Pakistani government and American agencies designed to shore up support for the US-led war on terror has been gaining popularity in Pakistan, not least because some of the attacks in recent years have suggested collusion between the attackers and security forces.
“In previous terror attacks in Pakistan, the perpetrators appeared to have considerable intelligence about their targets,” reported the UK’s Independent in March. “Car bombers have struck at army and anti-terror police headquarters in the past two years without the slightest hindrance.”
The Taliban may have had good strategic reason to speak up against Pakistan’s recent spate of violence: They may be attempting to avoid another aggressive campaign by the Pakistani army.
A report in the Pakistan Daily Times states that “the recent wave of terror attacks … has sparked outrage against the Taliban, with public opinion fast swinging in favor of a military offensive in South Waziristan.”