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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Taliban, al-Qaeda planned attack on Benazir Bhutto

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Feb. 22, IRNA -- Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has made public parts of an investigation report about the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, saying that Taliban and al-Qaeda jointly planned the attack.

Benazir Bhutto was killed in suicide bombing and gunshots in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, shortly after she addressed a big public meeting.

Malik, disclosing details of the investigative report in the southern Sindh provincial assembly, said that a group of 27 militants helped in executing the assassination plan.

He said that the planners of the murder are still at large, but also insisted that more time is required to collect further evidences. He blamed founder of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, Baitullah Mehsud for making the plan with the help of a Pakistani militant Ilyas Kashmiri and al-Qaeda Abu Obaida al-Misri in Makin village in South Waziristan tribal region.

They all have been killed in U.S. drone strikes in South Waziristan, the birthplace of the TTP.

The Minister said that the militants recruited to carry out the attack were all studied and trained in religious school in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak, some 80 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.

“On December 20, in room no. 11 of Haqqania madrassa (religious school), Baitullah Mehsood gave money to carry out the task,” the Minister claimed.

Head of the Joint Investigation Team Khalid Quershi told the provincial lawmakers that all the suspects of the attack have been traced after the main accused Hasnain Gul one day mistakenly called his landline number in Rawalpindi. Gul is now under trial in a Rawalpindi prison.

“All terrorists have strict instructions of not calling any landline number,” Qureshi said.

He gave a detailed presentation with the help of audio/video footage, showing the suspects involved in the case.

Malik pointed out that the investigations took a long time to complete as it usually takes time to collect circumstantial proof. “It is not just important to find out the implementers, but also see who planned the whole attack.”

The assembly was told that al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations had made Bhutto their target since a long time and they had been after her since she had returned to Pakistan in October 2006.

The Minister also claimed that former President Pervez Musharraf had threatened Benazir Bhutto not to return to Pakistan before parliamentary elections in 2007.

He said Musharraf threatened Benazir Bhutto in the presence of American Lobbyist Mark Siegel that if she comes to Pakistan before the elections, she will be responsible for the consequences.

“If you come to Pakistan before the elections, I will not be responsible for our security,” Malik quoted Musharraf as telling Benazir Bhuuto.

He accused former president Pervez Musharraf for not providing adequate security to the former prime minister. He said that the government has decided to bring back Musharraf to the country and for this purpose red warrants would be issued through the Interpol.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80001181

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