Al-Qaeda and Pakistani officials have released statements confirming that al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent has launched its first attacks. A Pakistani frigate was targeted while in port at Karabachi, where the militants found it instead of the American carrier which originally served as their targer. Naval guards at the installation fought off their attack, though Pakistani media outlets have claimed that al-Qaeda briefly took control of the ship. An unlikely scenario given the size of their squad relative to the ship's crew and security detail. By the end of the attack, 3 Al-Qaeda members had been killed and another 7 were arrested. 2 Pakistani guards were also injured during the engagement.
While the official target was an aircraft carrier, it could have very easily been an amphibious assault ship instead. In a press statement, al-Qaeda leaders said, "The Naval officers who were martyred on Saturday in the attack on Karachi were al-Qaeda members. They were trying to attack American marines and their cronies." Typically, Marines are stationed upon amphibious assault ships which ferry them around the oceans and facilitate ship to shore operations. These vessels have flat tops which allow for aircraft to take off and land, making them reminiscent of carriers.
The group also successfully killed Pakistani Brigadier Fazel Zahoor on September 2.
It's easy for us to giggle at al-Qaeda's flub up: a team of former naval officers go a quest to attack an American aircraft carrier and find a Pakistani frigate instead. However, it's an important development. This attack shows an audacious attempt to attack American military assets. Analysts have long discussed al-Qaeda's preoccupation with local conflicts, but they were aiming to strike at a symbol of American power. This illustrates how competition with ISIS is forcing them to increase the boldness of their strategy. As an inherently ideological organization, al-Qaeda will respond to the threat ISIS poses to their vision of a global caliphate by showing that they haven't forgotten about the propagation of decadent values and perpetuation of the Islamic world's oppression by the Western world. This ideological race could easily lead to an increased likelihood of terrorist attacks aimed not only at Western military forces, but at Western countries as well.
The aforementioned threat is compounded by the challenges posed by "homegrown" Jihadi militants which have flooded into foreign conflicts from Western nations. At least 3,000 foreign fighters in Syria, as an example, have originated from Europe, North America, and Australia. As they return home, potentially undetected by national security agencies, the prospect of internal attacks increases exponentially. The tribulations of Middle Eastern nations does not end at the region's limits, but rather poses a dagger at the innards of nations across the globe--Western and non-Western alike.