By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
May 10, 2010 - In the wake of official confirmation that the Pakistani Taliban were behind last week's failed terror attack in New York City's Times Square, a senior defense official today emphasized the importance of U.S. support to Pakistan as it confronts the threat within its borders.
Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged yesterday that the Pakistani Taliban were deeply involved in the May 1 bombing attempt. U.S. officials arrested Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, as he attempted to flee the country two days later.
"The evidence that we've now developed shows that the Pakistani Taliban directed this plot," Holder said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they helped direct it. And I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence that shows they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman noted the United States is helping Pakistan deal with the Taliban and other extremists within its borders.
"We are providing aid to Pakistan for them to deal with the existential threat that is there," Whitman told Pentagon reporters today. "It is a threat, not only to the Pakistan government, but it also produces external threats, which is why we are working with them to deal with this."
Just days before the failed attack, a senior Defense Department official emphasized to Congress the importance of long-term funding for Pakistan's counterinsurgency operations.
"This is a partnership that is absolutely vital to U.S. interests," Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee at an April 29 hearing.
President Barack Obama called the failed Times Square attack a sobering reminder of the need to remain vigilant against terrorists committed to destroying America's way of life.
"Around the world and here at home, there are those who would attack our citizens and who would slaughter innocent men, women and children in pursuit of their murderous agenda," Obama said last week as details of the attack began coming to light. Terrorists "will stop at nothing to kill and disrupt our way of life," he added.
Meanwhile, Obama vowed to do what's needed to protect the United States from terrorism.
"As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized," he said. "We will not cower in fear, [and] we will not be intimidated.
"We will be vigilant, we will work together, and we will protect and defend the country we love to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our people," the president continued. "That's what I intend to do as the president, and that is what we will do as a nation."