Thursday, December 27, 2007

So who exactly benefits from Bhutto's assassination. A lot of people from the look of it.

Newshoggers is keeping up with information surrounding the Bhutto assassination. It is worth a check back from time to time, including something of a friendly debate going on between Cernig and Shamanic as to the possible involvement of Pervez Musharraf.

Two points of interest here. Insiders close to Bhutto are suggesting that Musharraf was either directly or indirectly involved.
A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.

After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."

Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."

The thing is, a lot of political opposition in Pakistan has been eliminated through either execution or "mysterious" deaths. Knocking off the opposition is not uncommon.

However, now we have al-Qaeda claiming responsibility.

While al Qaeda is considered by the U.S. to be a likely suspect in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Banazir Bhutto, U.S. intelligence officials say they cannot confirm an initial claim of responsibility for the attack, supposedly from an al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan.

An obscure Italian Web site said Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told its reporter in a phone call, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedeen."

It said the decision to assassinate Bhutto was made by al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al Zawahri in October. Before joining Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, Zawahri was imprisoned in Egypt for his role in the assassination of then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

That will certainly get some quarters all riled and jumping in with pointing fingers, but there is something else.

U.S. officials monitoring Internet chat rooms known to be used by Islamic militants say several claims of responsibility have been posted, although such postings are notoriously unreliable.
Which makes the al-Qaeda claim a little less significant but not fully discountable.

One thing is slightly puzzling. Given the tenuous situation in Pakistan over the past few months, and given the October attempt on Bhutto's life, for which al Qaeda claimed credit, it would seem that US intelligence would be paying close attention to any activity involving extremist groups.

I'll go one further. It is not in the interest of the Bush administration not to have had al Qaeda carry this assassination off. Yet, US intelligence is issuing a very cautious "maybe" but "we can't confirm it".

There are two points that arise from that.

The US intelligence community is hoisting a middle finger to Cheney once again. As they did with the NIE on Iran, they are steadfastly maintaining their independence by not immediately giving Cheney the words he would like to hear. Cheney is a solid Musharraf supporter. By not immediately confirming al Qaeda's claim, Musharraf lives under a veil of suspicion.

The second point is that there is obvious skepticism among intelligence analysts. Even if al Qaeda's claim is genuine, there is also the possibility of conspiratorial involvement of other parties, particularly the ISI. Musharraf may or may not have had direct involvement, but given the renewed independence of US intelligence agencies and their recent working out from under the thumb of Dick Cheney, they're not going to be pressured into any easy answer. If they believed al Qaeda's claim they could easily have come out and confirmed it. This is only speculation but what's going on now suggests they have different information.

The move to watch is whether Musharraf cancels elections.

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