Did al Qaeda Do It?


One of the best al Qaeda watchers, Paul Cruickshank, thinks the Bhutto assassination has all the markings of al Qaeda. The Pakistan government has now accused al Qaeda of the crime.
But others are noting that many in Pakistan — even in government circles — wanted Bhutto done away with. Some officials have told me that there even exists the possibility that Musharraf himself might have known nothing — but that other elders in the intelligence and military establishment could have set this up.
We just don’t know.
But this raises the question of how groups might exploit the fragility of the Muslim world right now — particularly across the Middle East. I’ve been particularly concerned about some violent group — within or outside Iran, perhaps even from Iran’s own IRGC al Quds force — staging an attack on Iran in some form that made it appear that Israel or the West had struck Iran.
I’m not predicting this will happen, but I think we’re in a situation where shocking incidents will be occurring with increasing frequency — and the real culprits behind the turmoil may not always be the most obvious — like al Qaeda in the Bhutto murder.
Others have their agendas too.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “Did al Qaeda Do It?

  1. ... says:

    steve the nature of this article had me thinking the same way as digdug.. it is easy to project a dark shadow onto others, but keep in mind bhuttos death serves the direct purpose of some right here in the usa – the very same ones who have capitalized on 9-11, for right or wrong.. digdug makes a good point.


  2. pauline says:

    Pakistan hosed away scene after Bhutto attack
    12/29/2007 @ 9:48 am
    Filed by John Byrne
    May have violated law by skipping autopsy
    Despite official reports by Pakistan’s interior ministry claiming that the government had intercepted congratulatory messages sent by al Qaeda surrounding the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a motley of strange occurrences has sparked new suspicion of the government’s official story.
    On Friday, doctors at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she died, said that Bhutto had been killed by shrapnel to the head from an explosion, not by two bullets that Bhutto supporters cited in the aftermath of the attack. Bhutto, 54, was killed as in the aftermath of a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
    The government soon changed their story, saying she’d been killed by hitting the sunroof of her LandCruiser after she’d stood up to wave to a crowd. Doctors said there were no bullet marks on the former prime minister’s body, and released a limited x-ray of what they said was her skull.
    More alarming, however, to Bhutto supporters was the fact no autopsy was conducted prior to burial. The official line — according to Pakistan’s interim prime minister Mohammadmian Soomro — was that Bhutto’s husband had insisted no autopsy be performed.
    But according to veteran lawyer Athar Minallah who spoke to McClatchy Newspapers Friday, “an autopsy is mandatory under Pakistan’s criminal law in a case of this nature.”
    “It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate,” Minallah told McClatchy’s Saeed Shah and Warren Strobel in a little publicized piece. “Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?”
    Autopsies are generally not conducted in Islam unless ordered by a court, because the religion calls for burial as quickly as possible. It’s unclear whether Bhutto’s circumstances would have warranted an exception.
    According to the reporters, “the scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence.”
    Shah, who reported from the scene Thursday, wrote in a second piece that police rangers charged with protecting her “abandoned their posts” shortly before the bombing, leaving just a handful of Bhutto’s own bodyguards protecting her.
    “Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday’s rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts,” Shah wrote. “As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: ‘Willing to die for Benazir.'”
    Some of Bhutto’s supporters were suspect of the “sunroof theory.”
    A “senior official” of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party called the claim “false,” saying he’d seen at least two bullet marks on her body after the attack.
    “It was a targeted, planned killing,” BPP’s Babar Awan said. “The firing was from more than one side.”
    Another newspaper also asserted witnesses saw her shot.
    Multiple reports said Bhutto had shown disregard for her personal safety by waving to the crowd.
    “In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways” she shouldn’t have, a former State Department official told Shah.
    Pakistan indicated Saturday it would delay January elections because of turmoil caused by Bhutto’s death. Protests and looting have left at least 38 people dead.
    Updated to include background on autopsies as regards Islam.
    see –


  3. Carroll says:

    Maybe we need some assassinations here to get these polticans to focus. Beside that would give them some campaign talking points.
    “Huckabee: Bhutto assassination ‘changes the world’
    Baltimore Sun, United States – Dec 28, 2007
    “Huckabee sees Pakistan as reason for tighter border security
    “Visiting U.S. lawmakers were to meet Thursday night with Bhutto
    The Associated Press
    WASHINGTON: Two U.S. lawmakers cut short their visit to Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
    Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat, had been scheduled to meet Thursday with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf. They were advised to leave the country by the State Department after Bhutto’s assassination.
    Kennedy’s chief of staff Adam Brand said the lawmakers left Pakistan early Friday and had arrived in Jordan. They had to cancel some meetings they had planned for Friday in Pakistan, Brand said.
    Specter said in a telephone interview Thursday from his Islamabad hotel room that he and Kennedy were to dine with Musharraf and meet later in the night with Bhutto.
    Our foreign policy had relied on her presence as a stabilizing force,” Specter said, emotionally describing her death as “a real, real, real shock.”
    I think our politicans suffer from a political form of Munchausen Biproxy Syndrome ..they make countries sick and then get loads of attention and support as the responsible caretakers of their victims.


  4. Carroll says:

    For further thought….this is what Richard Sale wrote earlier this year about Pak nukes:
    “As early as 2000, the Clinton administration created a joint commission, a liaison group, consisting of American and Pakistani scientists. The purpose of this group was to help the Pakistanis create command and control codes for the use of such weapons that would be unbreakable. In the course of such work, America basically gained full knowledge of Pakistan’s command and control system.
    The US then used snatch teams to kidnap Pakistani scientists who were peddling Pakistan’s nuclear technology or knowledge of it to undesirables. A bunch of such scientists disappeared from Burma while traveling, for example. But the kidnaping disrupted the alleged 200 links between the Pakistan nuclear community and terrorists such as al Queda. Other Pakistanis sympathetic to al Qaida Sultan Bashiruddin, a much decorated scientist for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, were arrested and interrogated.
    The US had thoroughly infiltrated the nuclear procurement-peddling ring without telling the Pakistanis about it, which is why the US got Libya to abandon its program and why Iran, another Pakistan client, disclosed its own activities to the IAEA..
    After 9/11, American aid to the Pakistanis to safeguard and control its nuclear arsenal was stepped up, with Bush using the proposed $3 billion in US aid as a bludgeon. Pakistan has 40 nuclear weapons, but within two days of the attacks, Pakistan’s military began to secretly relocate critical nuclear weapons components to six new secret locations, known to the Bush administration. When Pakistan joined the war on terrorism, it submitted to additional US oversight.
    Lastly, Musharaff shuffled top military and intelligence personnel just before the US attack on Afghanistan on October 7. A new Pakistani Strategic Planning Division was set up, headed by a three-star general to supplement the control of such weapons by the National Command Authority.. There were also changes made to keep nuclear technology out of the hands of jihadis in the event Musharaff was assassinated. The US again had a big part to play in this.
    So while the nukes of any country are allegedly in danger of hijacking, apparently the new safeguards are such that the slightest error in procedure renders the weapon null and void, a system much like the one the Russian used with their portable nuclear weapons systems.
    So for now, the danger of jihadis seizing a Pakistan nuke seem minimal.
    With greetings to all,
    Richard Sale”
    Sooooooo….if their nukes are more or less secure…..wasn’t it rather stupid to introduce Bhutto at this time and risk the chaos that (was predicted to occur) has occured upsetting this nuke applecart? Was that such as success that the adm figured it was o.k. now to give them their democracy surgery?


  5. Carroll says:

    Our candidates need to be made to sign off on a job description acknowledging that it is not the US’s job to “spread democracy” around the world.


  6. Steve Clemons says:

    DigDug — Haven’t you read any of my commentary about the Cheney wing of the national security establishment, or about David Wurmser? I think your view of this blog is not accurate. I worry about the impact of factions and divided government here — and the messages that has sent — all of the time.
    best regards,
    steve clemons


  7. Carroll says:

    On the other hand I can believe that Mrs. Universe continues to meddle and stir the pot.
    Clinton demands Bhutto probe, slams Musharraf
    by Stephen Collinson Fri Dec 28, 5:32 PM ET
    STORY CITY, Iowa (AFP) – Hillary Clinton Friday called for an independent, international probe into Benazir Bhutto’s murder, as the turmoil wracking US anti-terror ally Pakistan reshaped debate in the White House race…


  8. Carroll says:

    I can’t believe Bolton finally said something I agree with.
    “John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said it was a mistake to collaborate with Bhutto’s “desire to get back into the game in Pakistan” and view her as an alternative to the country’s current leader, Pervez Musharraf.
    “We in effect helped — helped — precipitate this dynamic that led to her tragic assassination,” Bolton said Thursday on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes. “It’s hard to see how that was the road to success.”
    Bolton said the primary concern of the US needs to be the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. With Bhutto’s death plunging the country into chaos, there is now a “very grave danger” the weapons will fall under control of radical Islamist militants within the Pakistani military.
    “What we have now is a prescription for chaos,” Bolton said.
    Thursday night, Bolton told Fox viewers that Musharraf is “the person to put our money on” in hoping for an acceptable resolution to the crisis in Pakistan, although even he faces the threat of assassination.
    As soon as Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October — part of a deal brokered by the US — she was targeted by assassins in another suicide bombing. US diplomats viewer her as the only hope for maintaining stability and promoting democracy, but Bolton argued perhaps the US acted to quickly in attempting to reform the country.
    “You can’t say this wasn’t foreseeable, and it’s obviously led to her death,” Bolton said. “Hardly a successful strategy.”


  9. digdug says:

    Why is it that Americans, especially establishment insiders like Mr. Clemons, are quick to see conspiracies and political factions acting illegally in other countries, yet so adamant in denying that such things can happen in our own country?


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, if “Al Qaeda” killed Bhutto, what reason would the Pakistani government have to conceal the manner of her death?
    Bhutto’s spokeswoman Sherry Rehman, who was in the vehicle with her boss, disputed the government’s version.
    “To hear that Ms. Bhutto fell from an impact from a bump on a sunroof is absolutely rubbish. It is dangerous nonsense, because it implies there was no assassination attempt,” she told the BBC.
    “There was a clear bullet wound at the back of the neck. It went in one direction and came out another,” she said. “My entire car is coated with her blood, my clothes, everybody — so she did not concuss her head against the sun roof.”


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Of course the fact that Bhutto told David Frost in an interview that Osama Bin Laden was dead won’t enter into this debate.
    It seems that Steve is not only willing to cheerlead for the very people that are refusing to represent their constituents, he is also willing to help sell the boogie men that have been used to cower the American poeople into accepting “grave and intentional breeches of the President’s authority”. When you hear the words “Al Qaeda” used to explain a world event, if you aren’t immediately suspicious and leery, you’re a damned fool.
    At least one person that was involved in the preparation of Bhutto’s body for burial is stating there was an unmistakable entry and exit wound on Bhutto’s head. And isn’t it convienient that no film of the actual instant of Bhutto’s “injury” has yet surfaced? So, does a sniper fit this horseshitty and premature invocation of Al Qaeda’s name when identifying the culprit? And, if she was sniped, wouldn’t it follow that the explosion was designed to hide that fact? So, I ask you, if Al Qaeda took her out, what reason would they have to conceal the manner in which they did it?
    Heres the deal. There ain’t NO WAY we are going to know what happened. EVER. So we have to go on what we DO know. And what we DO know is that GWB is the most dishonest criminal piece of shit that has ever resided in the Oval Office, and has demonstrated time and time again that he will lie unabashedly. And further, the so called “opposition party” refuses to hold him accountable for his lies, and have proven themselves complicit and enabling in their own actions. So doesn’t it seem just a bit asinine to offer conjecture as to who killed her? Such conjecture has no credible basis upon which to be formed, for we know everyone supplying us with that “basis” is a lyin’ scumbag.
    BOO!!!! That sums up Bush’s foreign policy, and also provides the basis for the Dem’s complicity.
    And how convienient that this “crisis”
    has arisen to take our eyes off the CIA tapes, that very likely could incriminate our president and vice president in war crimes. Pffft, that issue will dissappear now, just like the Downing Street Memo did, and Phase Two, and the second round of Abu Ghraib photos, and the anthrax investigation did. Pffft, right down the same black hole the Congressional subpoenas keep dissappearing down.


  12. Carroll says:

    “But this raises the question of how groups might exploit the fragility of the Muslim world right now — particularly across the Middle East. I’ve been particularly concerned about some violent group — within or outside Iran, perhaps even from Iran’s own IRGC al Quds force — staging an attack on Iran in some form that made it appear that Israel or the West had struck Iran”
    Huummm….that is one speculation I hadn’t seen before. What would Iran’s al Quds desired outcome of that be?
    To have an excuse to strike back at Israel or the US in Iraq?
    How would that be in their favor or in the favor of any democratic opposition forces in Iran?
    Seems much more likely Israel would stage a false flag operation on themselves in order to have an excuse to bomb Iran. Particulary since the
    NIE doesn’t do anything for their Iran cause.
    I could see ALQ doing staging something like this to keep drawing Jaws into the shallows and drown him.


  13. jhm says:

    This is the basis of my main complaint with the discussion (not only here) of this assassination. Every source of information that we have is not only subjective, but intensely partisan. So, faced with this turmoil, what do we focus our attention on? the consequences for the PPP? no (the fact that this democrat was the leader of the party in perpetuity, with no succession plan is hardly mentioned). The thing we pay attention to ad nauseam, is which of the conflicting reports from parties with every motivation to lie are telling the truth about something that really doesn’t matter any way. However she died, it was certainly not of natural causes, and the political future of Pakistan seems to me to be more important a discussion than whether a window latch or shrapnel or a bullet was the cause of death.


  14. Jim Ramsey says:

    The aftermath of this assassination reminds me of the aftermath of the Madrid bombing. In Madrid, the sitting government wanted to blame anyone but al Qaeda. In Pakistan, the sitting government wants to blame al Qaeda in order to avoid looking too closely at the internal forces of Pakistani politics.
    In both cases, what actually happened is of less interest than what will keep the sitting government in power.
    Musharaff needs to be careful he doesn’t fall in the same trap the Madrid government fell into and be caught in an obvious cover up.


  15. ckrantz says:

    AQ, Neo-talibans, or cells controlled by elements within ISI. Does it matter? Frankly BB was crazy to do open campaigning the way she did in the situation she was.
    As todays WAPO piece suggests the afghan-pakistan war is now linked. A war NATO is slowly losing. The Bush legacy will not just be the destabilized ME region. The forgotten war in afghanistan will have to be solved and with it the whole structure of a future NATO alliance.


  16. bob h says:

    In denying Bhutto the security she demanded, Musharaff is complicit in her murder. And given that Bush and Rice must have had pleas from her to do something about the security situation, but did nothing, they have blood on their hands as well.


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