Faisal Shahzad, the would-be terrorist of Times Square, seems to have followed a familiar path. Like many earlier recruits to jihad, he was middle-class, educated, seemingly assimilated—and then something happened that radicalized him. We may never be sure what made him want to kill innocent men, women, and children. But his story shares another important detail with many of his predecessors: a connection to Pakistan.
The British government has estimated that 70 percent of the terror plots it has uncovered in the past decade can be traced back to Pakistan. Pakistan remains a terrorist hothouse even as jihadism is losing favor elsewhere in the Muslim world. From Egypt to Jordan to Malaysia to Indonesia, radical Islamic groups have been weakened militarily and have lost much of the support they had politically. Why not in Pakistan? The answer is simple: from its founding, the Pakistani government has supported and encouraged jihadi groups, creating an atmosphere that has allowed them to flourish. It appears to have partially reversed course in recent years, but the rot is deep.