Benazir Bhutto investigation comes full circle

Published: May 27, 2010
The investigation concluded that former Tehrik-i-Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud was behind Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

The investigation concluded that former Tehrik-i-Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud was behind Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

ISLAMABAD: More than two years after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the investigation has come full circle.

A Joint Investigation Team constituted by the PPP government has verified that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led at the time by Baitullah Mehsud, carried out the attack that killed Bhutto. The JIT report submitted on Tuesday adds little to the information already made available by the interim government when Bhutto was assassinated. But some interesting elements have emerged.

One of the key conspirators, Hasnain Gul, who was arrested on January 5, 2008, had confessed that the two suicide bombers had stayed at his house a day before the assassination. The suicide bombers left a shawl, a cap and a pair of joggers at Hasnain’s residence. On Sept 12, 2009, some 20 months after the assassination, these articles of clothing were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico for DNA analysis. The FBI report was then compared to the DNA obtained from body parts of the suicide bombers recovered from Liaquat Bagh.

That the two samples matched corroborated Gul’s confession and firmly linked the two suicide bombers with Mehsud’s network. Another connection has also been established by comparing cellular and landline phone records, which have linked the conspirators to each other and to the penultimate telephone conversation between a man identified as “Maulvi sahib” and “Ameer sahib”. That discussion of the assassination was intercepted by the Inter Services Intelligence shortly after Bhutto’s assassination and was made public by former president General Pervez Musharraf’s interim government. Ameer sahib was been identified as Baitullah Mehsud by one of the arrested men.

In another key revelation, the JIT report lists five men who are currently under arrest, one of whom is Gul, and seven others who were involved in the planning and the execution of the assassination. Topping the list is Baitullah Mehsud. The report indicates that of the men still at large, at least one – Abadur Rehman Farooq, who was last seen in Khyber Agency – is suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks in Peshawar for the TTP and al Qaeda. Almost all the conspirators have links to the Madrassah Haqqaniya in Akora Khattak and further arrests have been made by the JIT from Akora Khattak.

The implications of these revelations are not lost on Musharraf’s spokesman Major General (retd) Rashid Qureshi who believes that Musharraf’s stance has been vindicated and he is innocent. He told The Express Tribune that the JIT report confirmed what had been established by investigators at the time and termed as “crazy” anyone who suspects that Mehsud may have been hired by someone else. However, federal information minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira was reluctant to comment on the report and its implications, telling The Express Tribune he had not yet read it but acknowledged that the JIT was set up by the PPP government.

The JIT questioned 34 people in connection with the investigation, including Makhdoom Amin Fahim and others in the car with Bhutto, former Intelligence Bureau chief Brigadier (retd) Ejaz Shah, police officers, doctors who attended to Bhutto and others. Conspicuously absent from this list are federal ministers Rehman Malik and Babar Awan, who were strongly criticised in the UN report on Bhutto’s assassination. The JIT has reserved comment on the actions of police officers who hosed down the crime scene and failed to carry out autopsies on others who died at Liaquat Bagh that day, saying the statements of the police officers were contradictory.

A further report is awaited but it seems unlikely if anything will be uncovered other than panic and incompetence. Does this indicate that the People’s Party government has endorsed the previous government’s claim that Bhutto was assassinated on the orders of Mehsud? If so, this would pave the way for General Musharraf’s return to Pakistan without being arrested for Bhutto’s death. It also remains unclear why the government insisted on an investigation by the United Nations when evidence collated by their own investigative team’s findings has revealed no grand conspiracy beyond Mehsud and his men.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 27th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • ali
    May 27, 2010 - 3:07AM

    well the generals did call Baitullah a patriot (in late 2008) Just google the words Baitullah patriotRecommend

  • MMA
    May 27, 2010 - 4:17AM

    This is part of the conspiracy or propaganda or whatever you want to call it. The truth is that B.Mehsud was not behind her assassination. Before he died he stated that he had no enmity or problems with B. Bhutto and if the attack was carried out under his orders, he would have claimed responsibility. They just want to get the investigation done with so people in Pakistan and perhaps some other countries as well stop pressurizing for increased investigations into her murder. Recommend

  • MMA
    May 27, 2010 - 4:19AM

    …into her murder and the case is closed.Recommend

  • Masood Hassan Raja
    May 27, 2010 - 7:01AM

    BB was assassinated by the enemies of Pakistan to destablize Pakistan as she was a symbol of unity and Pakistan’s federation.Unfortunately Musharaf govt failed to provide her foolproof security.Who is who in BB’s assassination plot is hard to figure it out. Like Kennedy’s assassination we may never get the answer. She is no longer with us but her idealism shall always linger. those who are behind her assassinationn did no service to Pakistan or Islam but surely strenghtened the hands of our enemies.Recommend

  • Qazi
    May 27, 2010 - 10:18AM

    Contradictory statements of police officers rejects the reporters openion made at the end of report. Besides this the responsibility of reporter to confine him/herself to the facts only, and not report openions. The editor should look in to this and train the reporter as there is already a dearth of qulity reporters, and journalists are mostly notorious for their preoccupation. This effort shall be appriciated.Recommend

  • M.Shahjahan Bhatti
    May 27, 2010 - 10:35AM

    It’s a joke! I believe those who killed Benazir are ruling Pakistan today and are mystifying her murder. I reality Musharraf ordered her murder, M.I. ISI, Punjab government and black-sheep of PPP executed it. There should be no doubt about that. If Zardari and Gillani plan to use her murder to next election they are living in fool’s paradise. Recommend

  • May 27, 2010 - 10:39AM

    Till their is the Present Government and ministers who are pardoned. We will never get an independant Investigation. It will be biased.Recommend

  • mega consult
    May 27, 2010 - 1:18PM

    The question that will always remain unanswered, despite strong security advise, who advised Ms. Benazir Bhutto to open the roof, come out and wave? Who opened the roof door from inside? If Ms. Benazir Bhutto requested to open the roof door so she could rouse the crowd of Jiyalaas, then why was she not persuaded to desist.Recommend

  • Huzefa Mansoor
    May 27, 2010 - 3:08PM

    Let me say what will happen. It is sad that a popular Pakistani ex-prime minister was executed and people keep on making judgments based on speculated results. If this is actually the case please make the original FBI report public. The UN in my opinion was only asked to investigate to obtain international sympathy.
    I completely agree with MMA who commented before me that TTP would have accepted responsibility of murder if they had done so. These people are not of the types which work under shadows. They announce whatever they dream to or have already done (maybe for more publicity who knows.Recommend

  • pakistani
    May 27, 2010 - 5:51PM

    someone in comment wrote “The truth is that B.Mehsud was not behind her assassination” and how does this person knows that; well he said it before his death.

    WHAT A SHAME. There are people in Pakistan who believe these animals who are slaughtering us by thousands. No wonder we are in this S#$t pool. Recommend

  • Paksitan
    May 28, 2010 - 12:41PM

    What a fantastic joke that FBI made about the assasination of BB. shame on the government who believ that this investigation is the true one. the killer are watcing the whole drama and laughing at the fool pepole of Pakistan. but as a muslim a day is comming at which every thing will disclosed and no one can coneal any thing at that great day……….Recommend

  • MMAK
    Jun 21, 2010 - 1:37PM

    Benazir is no more in this world, she is giving her account to Almighty Allah and Almihty Allah is the best judge. Dont waste time prepare for our accounts to be presented to Allah. Allah have mercy on us, Aameen.Recommend

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