This backlash may have been provoked under pressure from al-Qaida. Or maybe it’s from the perceived violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by U.S. drones. But another factor involves a line about attributed to the prophet Muhammad about the “end of time” battles starting in the ancient kingdom of Khurasan, located in present-day Afghanistan.
“If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, go to them immediately, even if you have to crawl over ice, because indeed amongst them is the Caliph, our redeemer.”
So said the prophet, according to tradition. You may have noticed the black flags adopted by al-Qaida, and it’s no coincidence that Islamist militants from around the world have flocked to the region.
There’s no doubt these militants remain a threat to U.S. security. The question is whether the strategies we’ve used to this point, in the longest-running conflict in U.S. history, are enough to win the war.
*Shahzad, 40, was found tortured to death in 2011 in Pakistan, reportedly by government operatives. He left behind a wife and three children.
JUSTIN VERNOLD is a copy editor at The Daily Star. Contact him at email@example.com.