Sunday, March 08, 2009

Why was Benazir Bhutto Assassinated?

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CIA agrees with Pakistan on who killed Bhutto
From Pam Benson, CNN
January 18, 2008
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The CIA believes extremists associated with a Pakistani tribal leader are responsible for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, according to a U.S. intelligence official.
The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the agency concluded that Baitullah Mehsud -- the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who has ties to al Qaeda -- was behind the attack.
The Pakistani government was quick to blame Mehsud's organization for Bhutto's death in December, producing an intercepted audio communication in which Mehsud confirmed his men were responsible for the attack.
The U.S. intelligence community was first cautious about drawing the same conclusion as the Pakistanis.
But after reviewing various other intelligence, the CIA agreed Mehsud played a role in Bhutto's killing, the U.S. official said.
The CIA viewpoint was first made known in a Washington Post interview with CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden published Friday.
"This was done by that network around Baitullah Mehsud. We have no reason to question that," Hayden told the newspaper.
Mehsud operates out of the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan. Pakistani officials have blamed Mehsud's forces for a number of attacks directed against the government, including one this week in which Islamic militants overran a military outpost in South Waziristan.
U.S. officials and terrorism experts are increasingly worried about the stability of Pakistan.
The Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda have drawn closer ideologically over the past couple of years and see themselves at war with the Pakistani state, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen said at a conference at a Washington think tank Wednesday.
He pointed to the growing number of attacks against Pakistani government officials and the ISI, the country's intelligence service.
Also at the New America Foundation conference, the organization's president, Steve Coll, indicated al Qaeda and the local insurgency are gathering strength as the government of President Pervez Musharraf is weakening.
Hayden praised Musharraf's cooperation in the war on terror, but also said the militants in Pakistan are a "serious base of danger to the current well-being of Pakistan."
A U.S. intelligence official said the stepped-up campaign by the extremists creates a "challenging environment" for the Pakistanis, but indicated the Musharraf government is "increasingly cognizant" of the problem it faces.

Who Killed Bhutto?Cui Bono in Pakistan
By Robert Fisk
December 31, 2007
Weird, isn't it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People's Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi--attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives--and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were "extremists" and "terrorists". Well, you can't dispute that.
But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa'ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.
Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy--and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr--it's not surprising that the "good-versus-evil" donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.
Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight--which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.
Only a few days ago--in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year--Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: "Daughter of the West". In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.
Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister--and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir's appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.
In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir's murder, the report continues: "The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation--false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated--a policeman killed who they feared might talk--made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister's brother had been taken at a very high level."
When Murtaza's 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested--rather than her father's killers--she says Benazir told her: "Look, you're very young. You don't understand things." Or so Tariq Ali's exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan's ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.
This vast institution--corrupt, venal and brutal--works for Musharraf.
But it also worked--and still works--for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America's enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the " extremists" and "terrorists" who so oppress George Bush. And let us remember, by the way, that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by his Islamist captors in Karachi, actually made his fatal appointment with his future murderers from an ISI commander's office. Ahmed Rashid's book Taliban provides riveting proof of the ISI's web of corruption and violence. Read it, and all of the above makes more sense.
But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was "looking forward" to talking to his old friend Musharraf. Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance--a certain Mr Khan--who supplied all Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let's not bring that bit of the "axis of evil" into this.
So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those " extremists" and "terrorists", not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir's assassination.
It doesn't, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.
So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.
Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.
Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.
Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.
Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.
Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?
Er. Yes. Well quite.
You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.


Who Killed Bhutto?TheCaptain-- Friday December 28th 2007, 3:32 pm
I’ve got one guess, it starts with a C, ends with an A and encompasses an I. For those a bit challenged, C.I.A.
Now, why would the CIA kill Bhutto? Aside from a torrid past of getting rid of any sort of pro-western government in that area, see Operation: Ajax and the overthrow of Moussadeq, the answer is simple, the CIA likes military-run, terrorist friendly dictatorships. Especially those in control of the CIA middleman known as the Pakistani ISI, a long used front for state-sponsored terror operations. Though, it could also have something to do with her having a great chance of winning the election and her knowing “too much.”
Specifically, in an interview on Frost Over the World, Benazir Bhutto stated something that conspiracy folk have known for a while, Osama bin Laden is dead. Though she said it as if it is well known and not BREAKING NEWS. She also shed some light on how he died while talking about key figures in the ISI-terror world, “he also had dealings with Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama bin Laden.” The quote in question is at 5m33s in the video linked below.
This while Al-CIA-Duh is promising a new tape from Osama the Ghost shortly.
For those who are unaware of who Omar Sheikh is, according the Sunday Times, he is “no ordinary terrorist but a man who has connections that reach high into Pakistan’s military and intelligence elite and into the innermost circles” of Osama and Al Qaeda. Specifically, he is the man who at the orders of Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad transferred $100,000 dollars to 9/11 head Mohammed Atta. Lt. General Ahmad was the same guy who was meeting with heads of the house intelligence committees on “the day that changed America.”
Could this be why Bhutto was killed? It would have been very dangerous to the Neo-Con establishment if a 9/11-hoax aware leader were to take over in Pakistan, putting an abrupt stop to the conflagration we call the War on Terror.
Main suspects are warlords and security forces
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent
December 28, 2007
The main suspects in the assassination are the foreign and Pakistani Islamist militants who saw Ms Bhutto as a Westernised heretic and an American stooge, and had repeatedly threatened to kill her.
But fingers will also be pointed at the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, (ISI) which has had close ties to the Islamists since the 1970s and has been used by successive Pakistani leaders to suppress political opposition. Ms Bhutto narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in October, when a suicide bomber struck at a rally in Karachi to welcome her back from exile.
Earlier that month two Pakistani militant warlords based in the country’s northwestern areas had threatened to kill her.
One was Baitullah Mehsud, a top militant commander fighting the Pakistani Army in South Waziristan, who has ties to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban. The other was Haji Omar, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, who is also from South Waziristan and fought with the Afghan Mujahidin against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Ms Bhutto said after the attack that she had received a letter, signed by someone claiming to be a friend of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, threatening to slaughter her like a goat. But she also accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her with sufficient security, and hinted that they may have been complicit in the Karachi attack.
She indicated that she had more to fear from unidentified members of a power structure that she described as allies of the “forces of militancy”.
Analysts say that President Musharraf is unlikely to have ordered her assassination, but that elements of the Army and intelligence service stood to lose money and power if she became prime minister. The ISI includes some Islamists who became radicalised while running the American-funded campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan and were opposed to her on principle. Saudi Arabia is also thought to have frowned on Ms Bhutto as being too secular and Westernised and to have favoured Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister.
'Almost Certainly Al Qaeda'Council on Foreign Relations
A Pakistan analyst discusses who killed Benazir Bhutto and what her death will mean for Pakistan
Bernard Gwertzman
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Dec 27, 2007 Updated: 2:43 p.m. ET Dec 27, 2007
Bruce Riedel, a former defense and intelligence official who helped make South Asia policy in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, says he believes Benazir Bhutto's assassination "was almost certainly the work of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's Pakistani allies." He says, "Their objective is to destabilize the Pakistani state, to break up the secular political parties, to break up the army so that Pakistan becomes a politically failing state in which the Islamists in time can come to power much as they have in other failing states." He says the United States should press the government of President Pervez Musharraf to go ahead with the parliamentary elections—perhaps after a brief pause. "The only way that Pakistan is going to be able to fight terrorism effectively is to have a legitimate democratically elected secular government that can rally the Pakistani people to engage Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist movements," he says.
Let's start with an obvious question. In the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, who do you think was responsible? It was almost certainly the work of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's Pakistani allies. Al Qaeda has been trying to kill Ms. Bhutto for decades. She has been the target of assassination attempts by Al Qaeda before. They were most likely responsible for the attack on her when she first returned to Pakistan. Their objective is to destabilize the Pakistani state, to break up the secular political parties, to break up the army so that Pakistan becomes a politically failing state in which the Islamists in time can come to power, much as they have in other failing states where Al Qaeda knows its chances for success are higher.
There is supposed to be a parliamentary election on January 8, two weeks away. What will happen? Will they be postponed? There is a good chance that President Pervez Musharraf will postpone the election, at least temporarily, in part to give Ms. Bhutto's party, the PPP [Pakistan People's Party], a chance to select a new front-runner and to organize itself. If he tries to postpone the election indefinitely, or to in effect shelve them, there will be a very strong backlash in Pakistan because Pakistanis across the political spectrum want an opportunity for elections to produce a new, more legitimate government. I don't think they would find the argument that terrorists killed a leading figure in the democratic movement an appropriate excuse to shelve democracy. We will see soon how Musharraf acts. I hope he will adhere to the principle of elections with a date certain, even if they are postponed temporarily to give the Pakistan People's Party a chance to reorganize.
Do they have an obvious replacement for her? This party was very much Ms. Bhutto's party. There is no heir apparent on the horizon. They have a significant problem. This might be a boon to the other secular parties, including the one run by Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is clearly not seeking to be elected through this kind of tragedy. He has been an advocate of elections with all political parties running.
Does President Musharraf have a political party?President Musharraf has a party. It is a splinter of the Sharif party, the Pakistani Muslim League [PML-N]. By most accounts and most polls, [Musharraf's] party will come in very poorly in this election. There is a widespread feeling among Pakistanis that the Musharraf dictatorship has gone on too long. A recent poll (PDF) by the International Republican Institute shows somewhere around two-thirds of Pakistanis would like to see Musharraf step down and give up power now. It [also] suggests that in a fair election, the opposition parties are likely to do very well. But because they are divided, it was unlikely and it remains unlikely that any single opposition party will have a majority in the new national assembly—there would have to be coalition building.
Would the PPP have won outright? I don't think it would have won a clear majority, but no one knows. Of course another factor is that no election in Pakistani history has ever been entirely free and fair. Every Pakistani election has been tainted by widespread allegations of fraud. It had been expected, even by Ms. Bhutto, that the elections would be tainted by fraud. The question was always going to be whether the level of political machination and rigging of the election would be beyond the pale—that is, so gross and massive that no one would take the election results seriously—or be within the norm of Pakistani politics.
When did you first meet Ms. Bhutto? My first encounter with Ms. Bhutto was in 1991 when I was working at the White House for President George H.W. Bush as the director for South Asian affairs at the National Security Council. I have seen her again periodically over the years, including when she called on Mrs. Clinton in the second administration when she was in exile. I don't claim to have a personal relationship with her.
Why did she take such risks when she already had been targeted on her first day back in Pakistan? Ms. Bhutto was the kind of person who believed that it was imperative for her to be in touch with her followers: that she couldn't be a leader of a democratic, secular party and hide from view all the time. It was part of her being the symbol of democracy and of women's rights in a Muslim country that she would be out on the campaign trail. She knew the risks. She knew her own family's tragic history; her father [former Pakistani president, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto] being executed by a previous military dictatorship in 1979; her brother [Murtaza Bhutto] dying in politically motivated violence in 1996.
She knew the risks, but she felt that being a political figure and standing for democracy meant that you had to be out there among the people and you couldn't be hiding. There now will be calls in Pakistan for a thorough investigation of the security around her appearance today and whether the government provided sufficient security. I won't try to preview how this will come out, but there will be a lot of desire to have accountability for the security situation today.
You said earlier that Al Qaeda was responsible, but could it also be military intelligence? I am sure that conspiracy theories about that will abound in Pakistan. She was widely disliked in the intelligence apparatus, but it was more likely the work of Al Qaeda and its cohorts. Now it is certainly possible that they had penetrated and had sympathizers within the Pakistani security apparatus and had advance knowledge of her movements. It is clear from the Al Qaeda attacks in the past, including on President Musharraf, that Al Qaeda has sympathizers at the highest levels of security, and intelligence which provided information on his movements in the past which facilitated the efforts to kill him.
If you were still working at the White House what advice would you give the president on how the United States should respond? First, to mourn the loss of the heroic figure. But the more critical point would be to press the Pakistani government to continue to go forward with the elections. The Musharraf government has promised to deliver stability and democracy and today's events are a tragic indication that it has failed to do both. Instead of stability we have acts of terror in the military capital of the country, Rawalpindi. And instead of democracy, we have one of the leading democratic advocates in the Muslim world killed. The only way that Pakistan is going to be able to fight terrorism effectively is to have a legitimate, democratically-elected, secular government that can rally the Pakistani people to engage Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist movements. The army has failed to do that. The army dictatorship has failed to do so. We should now press for the democratic movement to move forward.
Do you think Sharif will become prime minister? I don't know. His party has not been tainted by rumors of backroom deals like Bhutto's was. He is doing pretty well among Pakistanis who want a government that will be free of Musharraf and to move against him. But I won't try to predict the outcome of the elections now that we have the new tragedy.