Friday, December 28, 2007

For Al Qaeda, Bhutto Was "A Precious American Asset" In Pakistan They Simply Had To Kill

Al Qaeda-Linked Militant Leader Blamed By Pakistan Government Denies Involvement

Syed Saleem Shahzad, writing in the Asia Times shows once again why he is one of the better best 'War on Terror' reporter in the world today :
”We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat mujahideen.”

These were the words of al-Qaeda’s top commander for Afghanistan operations and spokesperson Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, immediately after the attack that claimed the life of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto on Thursday (December 27).

Bhutto, with Western backing, had been hoping to become prime minister for a third time after general elections next month.

“This is our first major victory against those [eg, Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf] who have been siding with infidels [the West] in a fight against al-Qaeda and declared a war against mujahideen,” Mustafa told Asia Times Online by telephone.

He said the death squad consisted of Punjabi associates of the underground anti-Shi’ite militant group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, operating under al-Qaeda orders.

The assassination of Bhutto was apparently only one of the goals of a large al-Qaeda plot, the existence of which was revealed earlier this month.

On December 6, a Pakistani intelligence agency tracked a cell phone conversation between a militant leader and a local cleric, in which a certain Maulana Asadullah Khalidi was named. The same day, Khalidi was arrested during a raid in Karachi. The arrest, in turn, led to the arrest of a very high-profile non-Pakistani militant leader, which, it is said, revealed an operation aimed at wiping out “precious American assets” in Pakistan, including Musharraf and Bhutto.

The operation is said to have involved hundreds of cells all over Pakistan to track targets and communicate with their command, which would then send out death squads.

Mustafa referred to a recent address by Bhutto in North West Frontier Province, in which she lambasted Islamic extremism and asked the people to stand against it. Bhutto was the only Pakistani leader who regularly spoke against al-Qaeda.

Bhutto’s killing, it would seem, is only the first major incident in al-Qaeda’s war against “American assets”, which is likely to plunge the country into further chaos and divert it from the democratic path.
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Another Al Qaeda-linked leader fingered by the Pakistan government denies having anything to do with the murder of Benazir Bhutto, claiming "we don't kill women" :

Al-Qaeda linked Pakistani militant Baitullah Mehsud was not involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, his spokesman said.

"He had no involvement in this attack," Mehsud's spokesman Maulvi Omar said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"This is a conspiracy of the Government, army and intelligence agencies," he said.

"I strongly deny it. Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women."

The Pakistan Government has claimed that Mehsud was responsible for Benazir Bhutto's killing as she left an election rally in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said the Government yesterday recorded an "intelligence intercept" in which Mehsud "congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act".

Mr Cheema described Mehsud as an "al-Qaeda leader" and said he was also behind the October 18 bombing against Ms Bhutto's homecoming parade through Karachi that killed more than 140 people.

Mehsud is a commander of pro-Taliban forces in the lawless Pakistani tribal region South Waziristan, where al-Qaeda fighters are also active. His forces often attack Pakistani security forces.

He was recently quoted in a Pakistani newspaper as saying he would welcome Ms Bhutto's return from exile with suicide bombers. Mehsud later denied that in statements to local television and newspaper reporters.

Mr Cheema said Mehsud was "behind most of the recent terrorist attacks that have taken place in Pakistan".

Maulvi Omar said the transcript released by the Government, allegedly of a phone call between Mehsud and a militant discussing Bhutto's death after the fact, was a "drama".

He said it would have been "impossible" for militants to get through the security cordon around the campaign rally where she was killed.

"Benazir was not only a leader of Pakistan but also a leader of international fame. We express our deep grief and shock over her death," Maulvi Omar said.

Pakistan Government Claims Bhutto Died From "Skull Fracture" Not Assassin's Bullets Or Suicide Bomber Blast