Taliban Target Pakistanis With Relatives in US

Extremists kidnap family of immigrants, demand ransom
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2009 7:01 AM CST
A youngster sits beside his belongings as he waits for his parents to cross a river as they flee from a troubled area near Mingora, the main town of Pakistan's Swat Valley, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009.   (AP Photo/Sherin Zada)
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(Newser) – The Taliban have developed a new tactic as they grow stronger in Pakistan: kidnapping and intimidating Pakistanis with relatives in the US. Immigrants are targeted through their families for money or as punishment for perceived political dissent, reports the New York Times. This creates a vexing paradox for Pakistanis in the US, whose American income both supports and endangers their families back home.

In New York City, home to several thousand immigrants from Pakistan's Swat Valley, news of Taliban troubles now arrives several times a day. One man in Queens described threatening phone calls from Pakistan demanding $1 million, followed by a call from his brother—who had fled with their father into the forest to escape the extremists. "My 97-year-old father is on the run," he exclaimed. "Tragedy! Tragedy!"