Qaeda troubled in Pakistan, former CIA analyst
* Brachman says Al Qaeda's anti-Pakistan policy makes it difficult for it to back-pedal
WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda is struggling to boost its appeal in Pakistan following former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf's resignation, a United States terrorism expert concludes based on comments by the terror network.
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst Jarret Brachman said Musharraf's departure in September had removed a target of Al Qaeda's anti-American campaign. His successor, Asif Ali Zardari, has been critical of the US.
Al Qaeda "finds itself in a variety of predicaments with regard to the Pakistani government, its army and its jihadi populations," Brachman writes in the CTC Sentinel, a journal of the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point to be published on Thursday.
Anti-Pakistan: "Even though Musharraf is now out of power, the inertia of Al Qaeda's anti-Pakistan policy has made it difficult for them to back-pedal without admitting strategic weakness," wrote Brachman, the centre’s research director until recently.
"Certainly, Al Qaeda's headaches are US opportunities," wrote Brachman, who this year became a security professor at North Dakota State University.
Brian Glyn Williams, a US professor who has testified against Al Qaeda at Guantanamo trials, said attacks on Zardari's government had less resonance among Pakistanis than those against Musharraf because Zardari was seen as more legitimate.
Zardari has condemned stepped-up US airstrikes against the Taliban fighters in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan. Washington has shrugged off the protests, but it has not repeated an intensely criticised ground raid in September.
"The less that Pakistan appears to be the handmaiden of the US, the easier time it will have garnering domestic support that it needs to effectively deal with its extremist problems itself," Brachman wrote.
American-born Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn last month criticised Pakistan's support for the US in the Afghan war, its fighting against the Taliban in border regions and its granting of transit routes to the US military.
A Pew Global poll in 2007 showed Pakistani Muslims' confidence in Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden fell 8 percentage points to 38 percent from 2003. But nearly two-thirds viewed the US as the biggest threat to their country. reuters