Bhutto Escapes Al-Qaeda Attack

Rick Moran
Pakistan's ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto's triumphant return from exile ended in tragedy late Thursday night when 2 bombs detonated close to her motorcade.

The attack had al-Qaeda written all over it. The first bomb - a small device that apparently injured no one - went off followed a couple of minutes later by a huge blast that has killed at least 140 people and injured hundreds more. The second bomb was timed to go off when onlookers had gathered around the site of the first blast, thus maximizing casualties - a tactic widely used by AQI in Iraq

The Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies had sworn to kill Bhutto as a result of her opposition to
Islamic extremists:

The attack was hardly a surprise. Militants see Bhutto's return to Pakistani politics as a Western-backed coup against Islamists in Pakistan, akin to the arrival in the Afghan capital, Kabul, of the US-backed Northern Alliance in 2001. Militant leader Baitullah Mehsud had instructed pro-al-Qaeda cells in Karachi to kill her for three major offenses against the Islamists, which he listed as:

- She is the only opposition politician who supported the military attack earlier this year on Islamabad's Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), a hotbed of Islamist radicalism, and she coninues to condemn the Lal Masjid ideologues;

- She has stated that she would allow incursions by US forces into Pakistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden;

- She has stated that she would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to question Dr A Q Khan, the former leading nuclear scientist accused of passing Pakistani nuclear technology to anti-Western countries.
The question of whether AQ might have had some help from Pakistani Intelligence is not known but the idea has not been dismissed. The ISI is not fond of the former prime minister and Bhutto's return can only mean that the war against the Taliban will continue.

There have even been some whispers that President Musharraf himself may have ordered the attack in order to maintain his hold on absolute power. This is an unlikely scenario because with or without Bhutto, new parliamentary elections will be held, probably in January. It is almost a certainty that Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party, will win enough seats to form a government so getting rid of Bhutto, while perhaps satisfying for Musharraf, would not alter the political calculus.

The bombing shows that Pakistan's government has a long, tough fight ahead to defeat the extremists. And al-Qaeda will do everything it can to destroy the move to democratic rule Pakistan is beginning to make.
Pakistan's ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto's triumphant return from exile ended in tragedy late Thursday night when 2 bombs detonated close to her motorcade.

The attack had al-Qaeda written all over it. The first bomb - a small device that apparently injured no one - went off followed a couple of minutes later by a huge blast that has killed at least 140 people and injured hundreds more. The second bomb was timed to go off when onlookers had gathered around the site of the first blast, thus maximizing casualties - a tactic widely used by AQI in Iraq

The Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies had sworn to kill Bhutto as a result of her opposition to
Islamic extremists:

The attack was hardly a surprise. Militants see Bhutto's return to Pakistani politics as a Western-backed coup against Islamists in Pakistan, akin to the arrival in the Afghan capital, Kabul, of the US-backed Northern Alliance in 2001. Militant leader Baitullah Mehsud had instructed pro-al-Qaeda cells in Karachi to kill her for three major offenses against the Islamists, which he listed as:

- She is the only opposition politician who supported the military attack earlier this year on Islamabad's Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), a hotbed of Islamist radicalism, and she coninues to condemn the Lal Masjid ideologues;

- She has stated that she would allow incursions by US forces into Pakistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden;

- She has stated that she would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to question Dr A Q Khan, the former leading nuclear scientist accused of passing Pakistani nuclear technology to anti-Western countries.
The question of whether AQ might have had some help from Pakistani Intelligence is not known but the idea has not been dismissed. The ISI is not fond of the former prime minister and Bhutto's return can only mean that the war against the Taliban will continue.

There have even been some whispers that President Musharraf himself may have ordered the attack in order to maintain his hold on absolute power. This is an unlikely scenario because with or without Bhutto, new parliamentary elections will be held, probably in January. It is almost a certainty that Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party, will win enough seats to form a government so getting rid of Bhutto, while perhaps satisfying for Musharraf, would not alter the political calculus.

The bombing shows that Pakistan's government has a long, tough fight ahead to defeat the extremists. And al-Qaeda will do everything it can to destroy the move to democratic rule Pakistan is beginning to make.