Bhutto murdered at campaign rally

Washington Post:

Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday at a political rally, two months after she returned from eight years of exile to attempt a political comeback, officials said.

Bhutto was shot at close range as she was leaving the rally in this garrison city south of Islamabad, aides said. Immediately after the shooting, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near Bhutto's car, killing at least 15 other people.

Bhutto was rushed to a hospital with extensive wounds to her torso, her supporters said. Shortly after she arrived at the hospital, an official came out of the building and told a crowd of supporters Bhutto was dead.

Also Thursday, a rooftop sniper opened fire on supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at a different pre-election rally in Rawalpindi, leaving four dead and at least five injured.

Bhutto's death is a devastating development, coming 12 days before Pakistanis are set to vote in national parliamentary elections already marked by enormous political turmoil. President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in November -- a move which he said was to combat terrorism, but which was widely perceived as an effort to stave off legal challenges to his authority. U.S. military officials said last week that the terrorist group al-Qaeda increasingly is focusing its efforts in Pakistan.

Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan in October, had been running for parliament and hoped to become prime minister if her party won enough legislative seats. At her homecoming reception in the port city of Karachi, suicide bombing attacks killed 140 people. Her appearances had drawn large crowds and stringent security checkpoints. At a rally in Peshawar on Wednesday, police stopped a would-be bomber with explosives around his neck. Thursday's rally was relatively sparsely attended, according to those present, apparently because people feared additional attempts at violence.

Information about the attack was sketchy, and in some cases reports were conflicting. One aide to Bhutto said the suicide bomber who struck Thursday was right next to Bhutto's car. The explosions seemed like a targeted assassination attempt, the aide said.

Initial reports said Bhutto was not hurt. But local television stations soon quoted Bhutto's husband as saying she was critically injured and in surgery. A short time later, the crowd of supporters gathered at the hospital. When an official emerged to say she had died, those gathered cried out in grief and rage.

...


Al Qaeda's hatred for democracy may have led to the killing. She was a vocal opponent of the religious bigots of al Qaeda. It is also possible, but not likely, that someone in the military might have been responsible for the murder. It is just not the Pakistan military style to engage in high level assassination. The fact that she and another former prime minister who was removed by the military were both living is pretty good evidence that they did not need to kill them to get them out of the way. Pakistan if the home of Islamic religious bigotry and may have more tan Saudi Arabia at this point.

The AP report says she was killed in a human bomb attack. Reuters says she was only injured. These reports will probably be updated soon.

Mark Steyn has this to say about his former neighbor:

Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

...
There is more for Bhutto was all that and more. Michael Ledeen says that al Qaeda has confessed to her murder, or in their words claimed credit.

CNN
reports:

...

President Pervez Musharraf held an emergency meeting in the hours after the death, according to state media.

Police warned citizens to stay home as they expected rioting to break out in city streets in reaction to the death.

Police sources told CNN the bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, blew himself up near Bhutto's vehicle. Video Watch aftermath of the attack. »

Bhutto was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital -- less than two miles from the bombing scene -- where doctors pronounced her dead.

Former Pakistan government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan said while it appeared Bhutto was shot, it was unclear if the bullet wounds to her head and neck were caused by a shooting or if it was shrapnel from the bomb. Video Watch Benazir Bhutto obituary. »

...


It is remarkable that she was feared so much.

Update: AKI reports that al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the murder and that the decision to kill her was made by Zawahiri. The al Qaeda statement was made by one of their commanders in Afghanistan. It should be noted that Secretary of Defense Gates has indicated that al Qaeda and the Taliban have been shifting their focus toward Pakistan in recent weeks.

ABC News says the US is checking out the al Qaeda confession.

Comments

  1. This is an ISI job at behest of mushy/military.

    Why??

    1) Uncle is keen to make it easier for them, by bringing in Bhutto and thus slowly removing their dependency on mushy. Mushy knows it.

    2) At any day Mushy is not co-operating with US by choice, but by sheer compulsion of situation, and is determined to safe-guard military/ISI control of pak and its nukes.

    Bhutto is more willing to be on USA side as she is not a military woman. She openly declared giving full hands to USA in waristan, letting IAEC question AQ-khan etc which mushy has till now prevented. ALso mushy/ISI suspect the pak nuke state with bhutto as a US pawn with more powers as PM.

    3) As a first step, he chaged the whole supreme-court, jailed CJ, removed news source that can hamper military agenda and amended constitution.

    Bhutto declared that she will chnage all these once she is PM.

    4) Mushy is more afraid of US using bhutto, than bhutto. With uncle stick at neck, mushy needs to do something before it become irrepairable.

    5) Mushy denied external security for her from USA/UK. The venue is rawalpindi, the military home quite difficult for such missions without ISI support.

    Bhutto has 2 weeks ago mailed to her spokesperson in USA, that if she dies, mushy is responsible as he is putting every possible impediment for her security.

    6) Now uncle has no replacement for mushy. Uncle has to be more careful and give him support. He can claim more support and money saying extrimists may take over. PPP without leader can be rigged for votes by bribing etc. In short pak power is safe within ISI/military reach.

    Now let us see how she is assasinated.

    There are many conflicting reports seemingly purposeful.

    At first assassins should have learned one thing from their previous expeditions. That is she is having a semi-armored SUV that can survive a major blast.

    Hence shotting is the sure way of killing.

    Report on clinically how she died.

    href="http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/12/27/pakistan.html?ref=rss

    "One of the doctors who attended to Bhutto said she had a bullet in the back of her neck that damaged her spinal cord before it exited from the side of her head.

    Another bullet pierced the back of Bhutto's shoulder and came out through her chest, the doctors said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

    Bhutto was given an open-heart massage, but the main cause of death was damage to her spinal cord, he said."

    So she died by a bullet that passed her neck from back and exited through side of head which might have severed spinal-chord.

    Now read an excellent analysis from a "Bharat" in BR forum.

    "Avram,
    You are right on !!!
    To shoot an handgun at 30 feet, aiming at a moving target (albeit slowly) is great marksmanship.

    Few things to know:
    Did Benazir Bhutto always stick her head out of the sunroof as soon as she leaves a rally?
    I believe yes, politicians always love to leave an impact and that could be tough to resist. question is, did someone inside the vehicle tell her stand up and wave to your people ?

    If the guy had managed to sneak in an AK-47, it would have sprayed more bullets with a couple of lucky shots.
    No.. he got a gun and fired with little time to prep on a target, in the midst of hundreds of people who were probably moving towards Benazir.
    Also, the bullet is said to have gone from neck to side of head. That means an upward trajectory which is baffling... I mean, if the bullet had gone from head to neck, it would have been a sure shot sniper attack from tree or roof tops.

    Also, this was a suicide bomber. If the guy had explosives strapped to him, why did he take the risk of shooting an handgun. A single missed shot and Benazir would have got inside the armored car and no suicide bomber could have harmed her.

    If it was a 2 man job, where the second guy was a lookout again why take the risk that you might scare the target away. I mean Benazir's exposure, was only limited to sticking her head out of the sunroof. Why take a chance, that you might miss a shot and have her stick her head inside the armored car?
    The moment you take the handgun out, people around you are going to be scared and shout. Security will notice you, and at the least the target would have been alerted. It does not make sense.

    Let's look at the shot ballistics:
    the bullet entered the neck and left through the side of the head.
    the bullet severed the spinal cord, which was the primary reason causing death almost instantaneously.
    witnesses say, that as soon as the shot was fired Benazir collapsed inside the car and through the sunroof.

    First point to note, she did not collapse on the roof of the car half sticking out. So the first shot was the kill shot, which severed the spinal cord even before a spasm. A spasm (usually a forward motion of the body) would have forced her to bend over the roof of the car. The first shot caused her legs to drop(slip), so she went into the car and not on the roof.

    Second point, the bullet went from neck to side of head and severed the spinal cord. So the shot was taken from the back, and not side ways.
    Probably at 7.5 or 4.5 o'clock.

    So the shooter was probably right behind the car. Typically, when a politician car leaves two things happen. The crowd in front of the car very reluctantly parts to give way. Once the car moves ahead of them, the crowd runs right behind it. The crowd will not just stand by the side, so for a handgun guy the crowd should have been a factor. A jostling crowd will make you lose your aim and
    will notice someone putting their hand out with a gun. Everyone sticks their hand out, but a handgun is more noticeable (Unless, it is accepted as Pak tradition to fire handguns in the air)
    I am not an expert on marksmanship, but 30 feet in the midst of 100+ moving people is extrordinary. It can be quite accepted, but the galle to take such a risk where you might miss the target is tough to digest.

    What could have happened?
    The pattern of Bhutto's sticking her head out, just as she is leaving the rally might have been noticed.
    As long as she was away from the crowd (30+40 ft) on a dais, or in the midst of a crowd but 70% inside an armored vehicle a suicide bomber attack would not have been successful (point from the Karachi attack).
    So the idea of shooting at her must have been conceived.
    My points above indicate my skepticism on a handgun attempt. Too much risk, that she would escape unharmed.
    A second close escape, might have just caused her to cut down rally's and be more careful. She could have become Prime Minister after elections, making any further attempts very tough (with the military now protecting her). Also, the very idea of her being in charge would have anathema (political or religious) to her assassins.

    IMO, a sniper sat inside a parked car on the side of the road and took the shot. The suicide bomber after hearing the shots detonated the bomb to cause the confusion, mayhem and allow the sniper to escape. So the sniper could have been a professional, second having the sniper's body would open up more avenues to find out who actually masterminded the assassination.
    Why did the sniper not for the side shot (side of head entry)? He would have been to close to the suicide bomber for comfort.
    Why not for the more dramatic front shot ? It would lot easier for a car to be parked behind Benazir's armored vehicle then park in front. Park in front of the vehicle, and you risk Benazir not getting up on the sunroof till she is too close to you. Once you miss the front shot, then you need to reorient yourself (move from back to front seat) to take the shot from behind. Stay behind the armored car all the time, and you need to set up only to take a shot from the back.

    Some basis for my theory:
    A suicide bombing had failed. There might have been some half attemps or plans to repeat it, but the bombers might have failed to get close enough.
    Despite what Benazir and her aides said, she was too well protected at home to attempt a suicide bombing at home.
    A handgun attempt would have been a risky attempt with lots of chances of failure, so a sniper was designated the task.
    The sniper was probably a professional or more important to give up his life, or he could have been a red pointer towards the mastermind and other helpers.
    The security must have been really lax to allow a parked vehicle within sniper range. Or there was someone on the inside to get a vehicle (security/press) tag inside the cordon without full check (easily possible in Pakistan).


    I have seen Arafat give speeches (when he was alive) and his guards would pretty much hug him as a body armor. If Benazir was always going to stand out of the sun roof, they should have got the roof bigger and have 3-4 security (female) be a body shield.
    Especially covering the back and side on shots. The only shot tough to cover would be the straight in the forehead ones, which are very tough to orchestrate against a moving target.

    That's my musings...


    OTOH, I could be all wrong and it was indeed a crazy guy (Pakistan has enough of them) with a gun and a bomb, who decided to take the shot and then pull the bomb. Armchair experts ( yours truly) have been proven wrong countless times by facts and reality.



    A question to our gun experts, does a handgun fired at 30 ft generate enough velocity to go through the body?"

    Now think, is it Mushy or al-quaida..??

    ReplyDelete

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