Blaming Blackwater: Pakistan Awash in Conspiracy Theories

On Friday morning, I was working on an article about Pakistani conspiracy theories -- how popular they are becoming and how dangerous they are -- when news came over the wire of yet another massacre at a Pakistani mosque. During morning prayers, terrorists in Rawalpindi stormed into a place of worship frequented by military officials. Using machine guns, grenades, and IEDs, they killed at least 37 people -- including 17 children.

Killing people while they are praying is a horrific and barbaric act. And yet in Pakistan this is a common, almost monthly occurrence.

Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal has been keeping track of major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan. In the past 24 months, there have been 19 such events, which have resulted in more than 400 dead worshipers and hundreds more wounded.

Here are just a few examples of the death and destruction, all from Roggio’s painstakingly chronicled list:

Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad's International Islamic University, killing five.

June 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshipers in an attack on a mosque in a remote village in Dir.

March 27, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 70 worshipers and wounded more than 125 in an attack at a mosque in the Khyber tribal agency.

Sept. 10, 2008: The Taliban attacked a mosque filled with Ramadan worshipers in the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan. More than 25 worshipers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.

Aug. 19, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 29 Shia mourners and wounded 35 after detonating in the emergency ward of a hospital. Most of those killed were family members visiting the body of a man murdered by the Taliban in a bazaar earlier that day.

The emerging details of the newest mosque massacre, coupled with equally bloody details from the 18 previous attacks, make the original thesis of my article -- how average Pakistani civilians are becoming boondoggled by conspiracy theory thinking -- all the more troublesome.