WASHINGTON – The U.S. military is developing plans for a unilateral attack on the Pakistani Taliban in the event of a successful terrorist strike in the United States that can be traced to them, The Washington Post reports.
Planning for a retaliatory attack was spurred by ties between alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and elements of the Pakistani Taliban, the Post said in an article posted on its website Friday night, quoting unidentified senior military officials.
The military would focus on air and missile strikes but also could use small teams of U.S. Special Operations troops currently along the border with Afghanistan, the Post said.
Airstrikes could damage the militants' ability to launch new attacks but also might damage U.S.-Pakistani relations.
The CIA already conducts unmanned drone strikes in the country's tribal regions. Officials told the Post that a U.S. military response would be considered only if a terrorist attacks persuaded President Barack Obama that the CIA campaign is ineffective.
A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Pakistan already has been told that it has only weeks to show real progress in a crackdown against the Taliban.
The U.S. has put Pakistan "on a clock" to launch a new intelligence and counterterrorist offensive against the group, which the White House alleges was behind the Times Square bombing attempt, according to the official.
U.S. officials also have said the U.S. reserves the right to strike in the tribal areas in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and other high-value targets.
At the same, the Obama administration is working to improve ties with Pakistani intelligence officials to head off attacks by militant groups, the Post reported.
Officials quoted by the Post and the AP requested anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding U.S. military and intelligence activities in Pakistan.
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