Al qaeda vs. al Qaeda on Musharraf attacks

Sunday Telegraph:

A deep split has emerged within al-Qa'eda over the wisdom of the terror network's drive to overthrow and kill Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf, according to radical Pakistani Islamists allied to the terror network.

Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has ordered the series of retaliatory attacks on Pakistani targets that have followed the storming of the Red Mosque, an extremist stronghold in Islamabad, by Gen Musharraf's troops this month.

In the latest atrocity, 13 people, mostly policemen, were killed and 50 injured in a suicide attack near the mosque on Friday as the authorities tried to re-open the compound. Nearly 200 people have now died in revenge attacks and bombings.

But some senior figures within al-Qa'eda are alarmed that al-Zawahiri's mission to topple and kill Gen Musharraf will provoke a Pakistani military backlash that could jeopardise their safe havens in the mountainous tribal areas on the Afghan border.

A rival so-called "Libyan faction" led by Abu Yahya al-Libi, who escaped from the US Bagram base near Kabul in 2005, apparently suspects that al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born doctor, is trying to position himself as bin Laden's heir presumptive with his personal crusade. Bin Laden himself is believed to be in hiding, fearful of his whereabouts being discovered.

US intelligence operatives closely involved in the hunt for bin Laden told The Sunday Telegraph that they had received reports of al-Qa'eda rifts from senior sources within the Pakistani jihadist community.

The US officials believe al-Zawahiri is running anti-Musharraf operations without consulting other leaders, hoping to foment a revolt that will result in an Islamic regime taking control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. They are investigating reports of other factions which want to consolidate their operating bases on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

US intelligence believes that the feud has developed in a power vacuum in al-Qa'eda's high command. Bin Laden rarely holds face-to-face meetings with senior lieutenants for security reasons, has only issued occasional instructions to his followers, and may be seriously ill.


Zawahiri is delusional if he thinks the US and its allies would permit him to take over Pakistan's arsenal. He would provoke destruction of that arsenal and an invasion of the area where he has been hiding. He may be desperate or delusional enough to believe he can pull it off because of the defeat and retreat talk of the Democrats, but if they walked away from that confrontation it would b e politically disastrous for them. If the US and NATO avoided that conflict India would not.


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