Interview with the Author

Courtesy Reuters

FA: Your previous work concentrated on terrorists' potential use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly in Russia and the former Soviet states. Have you shifted your focus to terrorism in South Asia?

JS: I am concentrating on South Asia because I see it as a growing threat. I think the State Department is right to highlight it as a region where terrorism is growing. The jihadi groups I write about are unlikely to acquire or use weapons of mass destruction. But the conflict in Kashmir could spiral out of control as a result of continued incursions by the jihadi groups across the line of control [dividing Pakistani-held Kashmir from Indian-held Kashmir]. This is not a nuclear terrorism threat as we usually think of it. But the activities of these groups could precipitate a conflict where both sides begin to act counter to their long-term interests-even to the point of using nuclear weapons.

FA: You begin your article noting that we have not paid much attention to religious militants in Pakistan because their activities have been concentrated in Kashmir and have not been a security threat outside South Asia. Do you think that terrorism in South Asia is bound to spill beyond the immediate borders?

JS: The problem is that some of the jihadi groups that I describe in the article are suspected of international terrorist incidents, and they are also closely linked with known international terrorists. They share camps and they share operatives-both with international terrorists and with anti-Shi'a sectarian killers active in Pakistan. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen signed one of Osama bin Laden's fatwas against the United States. Most Muslims consider bin Laden's view to be a gross distortion of Islam, but these Pakistani extremist groups see him as a hero. That's one of the reasons the U.S. government is worried about these groups. And the second issue is the one I already mentioned: that these groups could inadvertently precipitate nuclear conflict in the region.

FA: Seven countries are on the State

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