Al Qaeda has reportedly claimed responsibility for killling former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. But did they really do it, and if so, did they have inside help?
" 'We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,' Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan."
According to some of my Pakistani readers, Benazir Bhutto had sent a letter before October 18, 2007 to General Musharraf stating that Brig. Gen(R) Ejaz Shah (the chief of police intelligence, FIA) and Chief Minister of Panjab Chaudry Pervez Elahi were going to kill her. There was no proper investigation of Bhutto's allegations. The (re-instated) Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry began an inquiry into this in late October, and he was promptly removed (again) from his position. Chaudhry is still under house arrest.
The New York Times published an article last October after the first bomb attack against Bhutto, referring to her allegations:
"Ms. Bhutto earlier said in the interview atop the truck that she was concerned about her security and that she had told General Musharraf that she suspected people in his administration and the security forces of supporting the militants and terrorism."
“ 'This is not the same Pakistan it was in 1996 when my government was overthrown,' she said. 'The militants have risen in power. But I know who these people are, I know the forces behind them, and I have written to General Musharraf about this. And I’ve told him there are certain people I suspect in the administration and security. Unless there is some thought given to that, this is what emboldens the militants,' she said. 'They’ve got some covert support from sympathizers within the system.' ”
According to my sources, this morning's assasination has the hallmark of both Brig. Gen Ejaz Shah and Chaudry Pervez Elahi. The motorcyclist who approached Bhutto's car reportedly came from Gujrat. In Gujrat, the former Chief Minister Ch. Pervez Elahi keeps a Nat House. This pavilion is located on several acres and is used for giving speeches and as a guest house. But it's also occupied by 200 to 300 "soldiers" of a "Goon Squad" who go around killing people and bombing things. Government Security never enters this house. The Nat House is referred to as the "hub of terrorism" by Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)).
Why does Musharraf allow Ch. Pervez Elahi to continue to have this "Nat House" in Gujrat?
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are twin cities. In the same area on the same day, another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was moving through town meeting his party workers. There was an attack of gun fire by the supporters of Chaudry Pervez Elahi, and four Nawaz supporters died. This news was relayed to Benazir Bhutto on the stage of her election meeting. She was very concerned. Her election meeting was in a park named after a former prime minister who was assasinated in this park, called Liaqat Bagh(garden). Benazir Bhutto was to sit on a stage. The same day the Government security had asked her people to make additional steps at the back of the stage for security reasons. She was alighted from the stage from these back steps (as seen in pictures on Reuters and here). Was it that a gunman in the remote building could only have a view of the target if she got into the car from the back of the stage?
The Chaudries of Gujrat, as they are known, are two people. One is Chief Minister of Panjab Pervez Chaudry Elahi. One is Chaudry Shujat Hussain who resigned as Prime Minister to make room for Shaukat Aziz. It was a friendly move. The father of Ch. Shujat Hussain was Chaudry Zahoor Elahi who was murdered in a car when someone attemtped to murder the Judge who hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The Chaudries always blamed the Bhutto family. Gujrat is a district in Pakistan's settled areas, but is famous for blood feuds just like the Tribal Areas. The Chaudries struck with a vengance this time. Pakistani newspapers are not talking of the bullets. Also Pakistani newspapers are reporting that the bomber struck on a bicycle (he did not, it was a motorcycle). But they want to bring the word "bicycle" because in Pakistan, voters vote on symbols instead of names (due to their low literacy rate). The Bicycle is the symbol of the party of the Chaudries. For three days the Chaudries were talking that she should not hold a rally in Liaqat Bagh, that something will happen.
One source believes that if an independent inquiry were held, it would reveal that both Ejaz Shah and Chaudry Pervez Elahi were involved. Yes, a motorcycle rammed Bhutto's car and the driver blew himself up. But Bhutto died as a result of a bullet wound to her neck and her head. Think of how very difficult it is to accurately shoot someone in the head or neck, especially a moving target. It's possible that there was a sharp shooter involved, similar to the Kennedy assassination. The suicide bomber was possibly used more to create chaos and to leave an Al Qaeda trademark. Ejaz Shah reportedly likes snipers. In his early career, he was trained as a sharp shooter.
When Bhutto was put under house arrest last November, it was reportedly due to the orders of Ch. Pervez Elahi. Musharraf justified it saying that she had given Elahi's name to Musharraf, saying that Elahi will assasinate her. Musharraf claimed that he put her under hosue arrest for her own security.
My prayers are the same: May her soul rest in peace. May Pakistan somehow not spin apart in chaos and violence.
UPDATE: My sniper speculation was spot-on, apparently:
"Rawalpindi, Dec.27 (ANI): Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, 54, was shot at and killed by at least two snipers before a suicide bomb attack on the periphery of her carcade. Police confirmed that the snipers fired five bullets from AK-47 assault rifles. Two of the bullets hit Benazir in the neck, while a third hit her forehead. No one was near her car when the shots were fired at her."