|Sport latest victim of Islamic extremists|
The shooting of seven Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan signals an alarming move towards sport being used as a media weapon by Islamist terrorists.
There is nothing new in using high profile sporting events as a way of getting media coverage for a cause. But the infamous events of Munich in 1972, when 11 Israeli Olympians were murdered, was the last time that sport found itself as the focal point of terrorism.
The difference however with this latest atrocity is that in Munich, the target was specific. It was a deliberate act against Israel. Their athletes were being used as collateral in the wider political struggle. In Pakistan it would appear that they were targeted just because they were sportsmen, specifically sportsmen playing a western game.
Cricket on the sub continent is huge. The India 20/20 series pulls in the best players in the world and TV audiences of millions.
However, for militant Islamist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba the likely perpetrators of the attack and the group responsible for the recent Mumbai shootings, it is a potent symbol of western imperialism and for them a legitimate target in the fight to create an Islamist superstate in this corner of SE Asia.
At first glance, the Islamic extremist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, in might look like a straight rerun of the Mumbai shootings.
Attacking a national sports team makes the atrocity all the more gruesomely eye-catching and being gruesomely eye-catching is terrorism's mission statement. Cricket fulfils two important criteria for the Islamic extremists - it is high profile and, in their eyes, dangerously decadent.
In the terrorist mindset, cricket only distracts good Muslims from what they should be doing: praying and executing jihad. In the terrorist imagination, cricket, loved by millions of ordinary Pakistanis, is an emblem of the evil West.
And as such a legitimate target for the extremists and their ongoing crusade for worldwide media profile.