Counter-Terrorism: The Relief Worker Threat

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November 13, 2005: International assistance to the earthquake ravaged regions of Pakistan is having an important effect on local attitudes toward "infidels" (non-Moslems) among the normally religiously conservative Moslem inhabitants. Many are openly spurning calls by conservative clerics and radical Islamists to reject Western aid. This is a break with traditional that, if sustained, could have a significant long term effect on the possibility of peace and stability in the region.

But sustaining this sympathetic response may be difficult. With Winter closing in on the region, it will become much more difficult to get relief supplies to the most devastated areas, which may leave them as "captive audiences" for the radicals. Meanwhile, the influx of Western relief workers has placed the radicals on the horns of a dilemma - it would be very easy to kill some of the infidels, thus furthering jihad, but doing so might strengthen the rift between the radicals and the local people.

 


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