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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Report of Benazir Murder Comes Out

By Altaf Khan • Apr 15th, 2010

As Pakistan and the world wait for the UN report on Benazir Bhutto's assassination today (Thursday), it has been revealed that the Punjab police had already told the UN Inquiry Commission that the murderers of Benazir had been traced, arrested and are being tried.

Her assassination was an open and shut case for the Punjab police, which had instantly solved it way back in February 2008 by tracing the mastermind of the Liaquat Bagh suicide attack as well as the suicide bomber, who had blown himself up on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi, the UN has been told.

Whether the UN report takes this investigation into account and how much importance it is given will be seen in the report of the UN commission.

According to well informed diplomatic sources in Islamabad, the United Nations Inquiry Commission, headed by Heraldo Munoz, was informed by the CID officials during the course of its investigations that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto had been masterminded by the slain Ameer of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Commander Baitullah Mehsud and the bomber, who exploded himself outside the Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, was one Saeed alias Bilal, a resident of South Waziristan Agency.

According to official documents provided to the UN Inquiry Commission by the CID Punjab, a group of 12 militants was actually dispatched to the garrison town of Rawalpindi, a day prior to Benazir Bhutto's December 27, 2007 election rally, to physically eliminate the PPP leader, who was touring Punjab in connection with her party's election campaign. The FIR of the Benazir Bhutto murder case was registered by the Rawalpindi police under sections 302/324,435,436,120-B/4/5ESA,7/ATA while investigations were carried out by the Additional Inspector General CID Punjab Chaudhry Abdul Majeed.

According to the CID documents, four of the 12 militants tasked to kill Benazir Bhutto belonged to Madrassa Haqqania in Akora Khattak near Peshawar, which is also referred to as Darul Uloom Haqqania. The Madrassa is being run by Maulana Samiul Haq, the pro-Taliban Ameer of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Three of the 12 TTP militants have been shown in the CID documents as already killed, including the suicide bomber. Of the remaining nine accused, five have already been arrested by police while the remaining four are still at large.

Additional Inspector General of the CID Punjab, Malik Mohammad Iqbal, when asked if the Punjab CID still owns its findings into the Benazir Bhutto murder case, said the assassination inquiry was actually conducted by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which was headed by the then additional DIG CID and representatives of the Rawalpindi police.

He said it was a joint probe on the basis of which the challan of Benazir Bhutto murder case had been submitted with a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court, which still holds ground and the trial of the arrested accused is still on.

The three accused shown as already dead include the human bomb Saeed alias Bilal (r/o Waziristan), Nadir alias Qari Ismail (r/o Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak) and Nasrullah r/o Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak). Four other accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder, who are still at large and have already been declared proclaimed offenders include Ikramullah r/o South Waziristan, Abdullah alias Saddam r/o Mohmand Agency, Faiz alias Kiskit, an ex-student of Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak and Abdur Rehman alias Noman alias Usman, an ex-student of Madrassa Haqqania.

The remaining five accused already in the custody of the Rawalpindi police and being tried for the Benazir Bhutto murder include Rafaqat, Hasnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Rasheed Ali and Aitzaz Shah.

According to the findings of the CID, Baitullah Mehsud had given Rs 400,000 to one Qari Ismail, who subsequently dispatched a group of suicide bombers and shooters to Rawalpindi to kill Benazir Bhutto.

The UN Commission was told by some senior CID officials that the TTP militants had planned to target Benazir Bhutto in different cities, wherever she was going in connection with her campaign, until she was finally killed.

According to the CID narrative, 15-year-old Aitzaz Shah from the Mansehra district of the NWFP, and his co-accomplice Sher Zaman, reportedly trained at Miramshah, were the first ones to be arrested after the Benazir Bhutto murder from Dera Ismail Khan by a joint investigation team of the Punjab police, headed by Chaudhry Abdul Majeed. Two more suspects, Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat, were later arrested from Rawalpindi. Rasheed Ali was the last one to be nabbed but Aitzaz was the first one to have furnished some vital information to his interrogators pertaining to the Benazir murder.

As the police obtained physical remand of the arrested accused and broadened the scope of investigations, it was learnt that Aitzaz Shah had actually obtained Jihadi training from a well known Deobandi religious school in Karachi — Jamia Binoria, also referred to as Jamia Islamia and known for its pro-Taliban leanings. As per the CID report, after being brainwashed and trained to kill, Aitzaz was sent to South Waziristan from where he had travelled to Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrassa in Akora Khattak. Afterwards, Aitzaz was taken to a Jihadi training centre in Akora Khattak - Wali Mohammad Markaz and tasked with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

According to the CID findings, Baitullah had provided Rs 50,000, a suicide jacket and other necessary items to someone else, but he could not attack Benazir Bhutto. After his suicide bombers' failure to hunt down the PPP chairperson in Karachi, Peshawar and other places, Baitullah Mehsud had assigned Qari Ismail of Akora Khattak and given him Rs 400,000 to execute the Benazir assassination plan. After reaching the Rawalpindi bus stand on December 26, the assailants had stayed at a Quaid-i-Azam colony house. In the evening, they visited the Liaquat Bagh site in a taxi and decided after surveying the area to hit their target from different directions during or after the public meeting.

As per the assassination plan, Saeed alias Bilal was to carry out the suicide attack in case he failed to shoot down Benazir while Ikramullah was to detonate himself if Saeed failed. Both Saeed and Ikramullah were provided logistics by Hasnain Gul, including an explosive-laden suicide jacket, a pistol and an optical device.

The assailants had reached the Committee Chowk in a taxi and later gone to the Liaquat Bagh via Iqbal Road and College Road. An unarmed militant went inside the Liaquat Bagh to give his accomplices updates about the movement of Benazir Bhutto, especially about her arrival and departure from the venue of the rally. As per the CID claims, the assailants had first attempted to enter the Liaquat Bagh to carry out a suicide attack close to the stage, but they had failed in their designs, chiefly due to foolproof security arrangements.

The UN Commission was further informed that several suicide bombers and sharp shooters were waiting for the PPP leader at the crime scene outside the Liaquat Bagh after their failure to enter the venue. Going by the CID account, the assailants had started chasing Benazir Bhutto as soon as she came out of the Liaquat Bagh and it was none other than the fearless PPP chairperson, who actually provided them with a golden opportunity to target her, when she decided to come out of her bullet proof vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser from its sunroof to wave to her cheerful supporters. That was the time gunshots were fired, aiming at Benazir Bhutto. As Saeed alias Bilal failed to hit Benazir Bhutto, he blew himself up, killing the PPP leader and 23 others, mostly on the spot. However, the Dopatta, which Benazir Bhutto was wearing at the time of the blast, could not be traced despite frantic efforts by the investigators.

Narrating the motivation of the crime, the CID findings say the accused had said during interrogations that they were annoyed over the pro-West approach of Benazir Bhutto who had returned to Pakistan at the behest of some foreign powers and, therefore, they feared a strong government action against the militants if she was allowed to come to power after the elections.

However, the fact remains that much before coming to power after the 2008 general elections; the PPP leadership had rejected the confession made by Aitzaz Shah and his other accomplices about their involvement in the Benazir Bhutto murder.

The then PPP spokesman and now presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar had described Aitzaz's confession a cock and bull story intended to reduce pressure on the Musharraf regime, saying the arrested youth, who has already been declared a juvenile by the court, had been made to narrate exactly the kind of things the Pakistani authorities wanted to hear, backing up their earlier conclusions reached within hours of the Benazir Bhutto killing.

The trial of the five accused in Benazir Bhutto murder case was deferred on August 22, 2009 by the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court following a federal government request to transfer the case to the Federal Investigation Agency so as to enable it to arrive at a definitive conclusion. Subsequently, on August 25, 2009, the federal government had formed a high-level team to re-investigate the Benazir murder.

The Special Investigation Group of the FIA was assigned the task to fix criminal liability on the assassins and planners of the gun-and-bomb attack on Benazir Bhutto. It was announced that the SIG's investigation would be parallel to the probe being carried out by the United Nations Inquiry Commission.

"The main reason for the fresh probe is that the inquiry report to be prepared by the UN Commission can't be presented before any court of law as desired by the UN. The government requires a separate investigation report for a proper trial against the criminals in the court", a senior FIA official had said on August 25 in Rawalpindi, adding that the United Nations report would have no legal standing and it could not be used for prosecution.

When this correspondent tried to take version of Jamia Binoria, Karachi, no responsible person was found. However, the person present there termed the Punjab police-CID report malicious and baseless. Expressing similar sentiments, a person in Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak, said this report is part of the campaign to discredit religious schools.

Source: News

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