Shahzad: A ‘singleton’ simpleton?

A week after Faisal Shahzad stormed the headlines more successfully than he stormed Times Square, a new mot du jour is making the rounds.

In case you haven’t caught it on the punditry trail as yet, it’s “singleton”.

Yes, singleton. Never knew that one before – thought it had something to do with mathematics or software programming. But now here it is on the counter-terror talk shows.

Richard Clarke, former US anti-terror czar, dropped the word during his interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS this weekend. Steve Coll was on it last week, in his blog posting, "The case of Faisal Shahzad" (

According to one branch of pundits, Shahzad was a singleton since he went it alone: trying to contact the big boy militants in the Pakistani badlands, offering his jihadi services. The big boys though, are suspicious of CIA agents on sting operations. They don’t trust these US-educated chaps who come knocking at their doors. So, they give them minimal training and pack them off. If they fail, no skin off the backs of militant groups. They can still take credit for the botched operation.

Speaking of taking credit for operations: US Attorney General Eric Holder has just told ABC News there’s growing evidence that the TTP – the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or Pakistani Taliban – was behind the Times Square plot.

Now that should really come as no surprise to anyone.


Why? Why, because Hakimullah Mehsud emerged from the dead to say so himself (see previous blog post). The TTP managed the CIA attack in Khost, Afghanistan, last year. The new lot of Hakimullah’s “I’m alive” videos are even more sophisticated and ambitious than the old lot. So what’s so implausible about the TTP connection in the Times Square plot?

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