Rehman Malik Relied on Punjab Police Report on Bhutto Murder Briefing Sindh Assembly
It seems as though not much has been achieved in the Benazir Bhutto murder case as Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday not only admitted that planners of the murder are still at large, but also insisted that more time is required to collect further evidence.
Malik shared this and other details of the investigation of the former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party chairperson’s murder case while briefing the Sindh Assembly session. He blamed Baitullah Mehsud, the Haqqani network and the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for planning the murder and said 27 terrorist groups helped in executing the plan. (Dawn)
Reported News Details of the CID Reports
The United Nations Inquiry Commission, headed by Heraldo Munoz, was informed by the CID officials of Punjab Police 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.
UN report on Bhutto murder finds Pakistani officials ‘failed profoundly’
15 April 2010
Security arrangements by Pakistan’s federal and local authorities to protect assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were “fatally insufficient and ineffective” and subsequent investigations into her death were prejudiced and involved a whitewash, an independent United Nations inquiry reported today.The UN Commission of Inquiry, appointed last year by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the request of the Pakistani Government, reached no conclusion as to the organizers and sponsors behind the attack in which a 15-year-old suicide bomber blew up Ms. Bhutto’s vehicle in the city of Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007.
But it found that the Government was quick to blame local Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida although Ms. Bhutto’s foes potentially included elements from the establishment itself.
“A range of Government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first to protect Ms. Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in its conception, planning and financing,” the Commission said.
“Responsibility for Ms. Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the Government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.”
General Pervez Musharraf was president at the time of the suicide bombing in Rawalpindi. The report said the then federal Government lacked a comprehensive security plan, relying instead on provincial authorities, but then failed to issue to them the necessary instructions.
“Particularly inexcusable was the Government’s failure to direct provincial authorities to provide Ms. Bhutto the same stringent and specific security measures it ordered on 22 October 2007 for two other former prime ministers who belonged to the main political party supporting General Musharraf,” it stated.
“This discriminatory treatment is profoundly troubling given the devastating attempt on her life only three days earlier and the specific threats against her which were being tracked by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence agency),” it added, stressing that her assassination could have been prevented if the Rawalpindi District Police had taken adequate security measures.
Turning to the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Commission found that police actions and omissions, including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation.
“The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands,” it said. “The one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab (provincial) committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether this amounts to criminal responsibility.”
It also found that City Police Officer Saud Aziz impeded investigators from conducting on-site investigations until two full days after the assassination and that the Government’s assertions that Mr. Mehsud and Al-Qaida were responsible were made well before any proper investigation had started, pre-empting, prejudicing and hindering the subsequent investigation.
“Ms. Bhutto faced serious threats in Pakistan from a number of sources,” the Commission said. “These included Al-Qaida, the Taliban and local jihadi groups, and potentially from elements in the Pakistani establishment. Notwithstanding these threats, the investigation into her assassination focused on pursuing lower-level operatives allegedly linked to Baitullah Mehsud.”
It stressed that investigators dismissed the possibility of involvement by elements of the Pakistani establishment, including the three persons identified by Ms. Bhutto as threats to her in her 16 October 2007 letter to General Musharraf. It also noted that investigations were severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other Government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth.
“The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate,” it declared.
The three-member panel, which was headed by Chilean Ambassador to UN Heraldo Muñoz and included Marzuki Darusman, former attorney-general of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran official of the Irish National Police, urged the Government to undertake police reform in view of its “deeply flawed performance and conduct.”
It also recommended the establishment of a fully independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and terrorism in Pakistan in recent years in view of the backdrop of a history of political violence carried out with impunity.
Ms. Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is the current Pakistani President.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban commended the commissioners and their staff for completing their challenging nine-and-a-half month-long task “expeditiously and in a professional manner.”
In a later news conference today, Mr. Muñoz stressed that the Commission interviewed more than 250 interviews with Pakistanis and others both inside and outside Pakistan, reviewed hundreds of documents, videos, photographs and other documentary material provided by federal and provincial authorities in Pakistan and others.
In the report, the Commission said it was “by the efforts of certain high-ranking Pakistani Government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources” but during an extension of its mandate until 31 March it was able eventually to meet with some past and present members of the Pakistani military and intelligence services.
8 February 2008
SCOTLAND YARD REPORT INTO ASSASSINATION OF BENAZIR BHUTTO RELEASED
The findings of a Scotland Yard inquiry into how Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto died after being attacked during a political rally in Rawalpindi were presented to the Government of Pakistan today.
The conclusions of the inquiry were outlined in a detailed report handed over to interim Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz by Detective Superintendent John MacBrayne, accompanied by a senior official from the British High Commission, during a meeting in Islamabad.
The text of the executive summary of the report is as follows:
On the 27th December 2007, Mohtarma Benazir BHUTTO, the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), died as a result of being attacked in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Following discussions between the Prime Minister and President Musharraf, it was agreed that officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) should support the investigation into Ms Bhutto’s death. The primary focus of the Scotland Yard team was to assist the Pakistani authorities in establishing the cause and circumstances of Ms Bhutto’s death. The wider investigation to establish culpability has remained entirely a matter for the Pakistani authorities.
The SO15 team was led by a Detective Superintendent Senior Investigating Officer, and comprised two forensic experts, an expert in analysing and assessing video media and an experienced investigating officer. The team arrived in Pakistan on 4th January 2008 and spent two and a half weeks conducting extensive enquiries. During the course of their work, the team were joined by other specialists from the United Kingdom.
The UK team were given extensive support and co-operation by the Pakistani authorities, Ms Bhutto’s family, and senior officials from Ms Bhutto’s party.
The task of establishing exactly what happened was complicated by the lack of an extended and detailed search of the crime scene, the absence of an autopsy, and the absence of recognised body recovery and victim identification processes. Nevertheless, the evidence that is available is sufficient for reliable conclusions to be drawn.
Within the overall objective, a particular focus has been placed on establishing the actual cause of death, and whether there were one or more attackers in the immediate vicinity of Ms Bhutto.
The cause of death
Considerable reliance has been placed upon the X-rays taken at Rawalpindi General Hospital following Ms Bhutto’s death. Given their importance, the x-rays have been independently verified as being of Ms Bhutto by comparison with her dental x-rays. Additionally, a valuable insight was gained from the accounts given by the medical staff involved in her treatment, and from those members of Ms Bhutto’s family who washed her body before burial.
Ms Bhutto’s only apparent injury was a major trauma to the right side of the head. The UK experts all exclude this injury being an entry or exit wound as a result of gunshot. The only X-ray records, taken after her death, were of Ms Bhutto’s head. However, the possibility of a bullet wound to her mid or lower trunk can reasonably be excluded. This is based upon the protection afforded by the armoured vehicle in which she was travelling at the time of the attack, and the accounts of her family and hospital staff who examined her.
The limited X-ray material, the absence of a full post mortem examination and CT scan, have meant that the UK Home Office pathologist, Dr Nathaniel Cary, who has been consulted in this case, is unable categorically to exclude the possibility of there being a gunshot wound to the upper trunk or neck. However when his findings are put alongside the accounts of those who had close contact with Ms Bhutto’s body, the available evidence suggests that there was no gunshot injury. Importantly, Dr Cary excludes the possibility of a bullet to the neck or upper trunk as being a relevant factor in the actual cause of death, when set against the nature and extent of her head injury.
In his report Dr Cary states:
- “the only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb-blast.”
- “in my opinion Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto died as a result of a severe head injury sustained as a consequence of the bomb-blast and due to head impact somewhere in the escape hatch of the vehicle.”
Given the severity of the injury to Ms Bhutto’s head, the prospect that she inadvertently hit her head whilst ducking down into the vehicle can be excluded as a reasonable possibility.
High explosives of the type typically used in this sort of device, detonate at a velocity between 6000 and 9000 metres per second. This means that when considering the explosive quantities and distances involved, such an explosion would generate significantly more force than would be necessary to provoke the consequences as occurred in this case.
It is also important to comment upon the construction of the vehicle. It was fitted with B6 grade armour and designed to withstand gunfire and bomb-blast. It is an unfortunate and misleading aspect of this case that the roof escape hatch has frequently been referred to as a sunroof. It is not. It is designed and intended to be used solely as a means of escape. It has a solid lip with a depth of 9cm.
Ms Bhutto’s injury is entirely consistent with her head impacting upon the lip of the escape hatch. Detailed analysis of the media footage provides supporting evidence. Ms Bhutto’s head did not completely disappear from view until 0.6 seconds before the blast. She can be seen moving forward and to the right as she ducked down into the vehicle. Whilst her exact head position at the time of the detonation can never be ascertained, the overwhelming conclusion must be that she did not succeed in getting her head entirely below the lip of the escape hatch when the explosion occurred.
How many people were involved in the immediate attack?
There has been speculation that two individuals were directly involved in the attack. The suggestion has been that one suspect fired shots, and a second detonated the bomb. All the available evidence points toward the person who fired shots and the person who detonated the explosives being one and the same person.
- Body parts from only one individual remain unidentified. Expert opinion provides strong evidence that they originate from the suicide bomber.
- Analysis of the media footage places the gunman at the rear of the vehicle and looking down immediately before the explosion. The footage does not show the presence of any other potential bomber.
- This footage when considered alongside the findings of the forensic explosive expert, that the bombing suspect was within 1 to 2 metres of the vehicle towards it rear and with no person or other obstruction between him and the vehicle, strongly suggests that the bomber and gunman were at the same position. It is virtually inconceivable that anyone who was where the gunman can clearly be seen on the media footage, could have survived the blast and escaped.
The inevitable conclusion is that there was one attacker in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle in which Ms Bhutto was travelling.
In essence, all the evidence indicates that one suspect has fired the shots before detonating an improvised explosive device. At the time of the attack this person was standing close to the rear of Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. The blast caused a violent collision between her head and the escape hatch area of the vehicle, causing a severe and fatal head injury.
John MacBrayne QPM
Counter Terrorism Command
1st February 2008
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