Benazir assassination plot hatched at brigadier’s home: report

Friday, December 31, 2010

ISLAMABAD - The plot to assassinate former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 was hatched at the official residence of an army brigadier, a fresh probe report has disclosed in a dramatic revelation.

The new probe conducted under the interior ministry’s supervision has also found the role of nine men, including the army brigadier, in the Dec 27, 2007 killing of Benazir Bhutto, Express Tribune said Friday.

The startling findings have been kept under wraps and the report is in the possession of Interior Minister Rehman Malik. It has only been seen by President Asif Ali Zardari, her husband.

Bhutto was assassinated Dec 27, 2007, as she was leaving Liaquat Bagh in a motorcade after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s twin city and Pakistan’s old capital in northern punjab. A teenaged shooter was seen aiming for her head in the CCTV footage before a powerful suicide blast killed at least 24 people participating in the rally.

The interior ministry at that time accused the Taliban of plotting to kill Bhutto while the doctors said “her head banged against the lever of the sunroof of her vehicle which caused her death”.

Zardari earlier this week temporarily shelved plans to share the contents of the report as he was keen to first take the army into confidence before ordering the arrest of uniformed personnel over their alleged involvement in the assassination.

The inquiry report has said that the five of the nine conspirators are still alive and they are the ones who hired the killers and gave them shelter and logistical support.

The remaining four men, including those sent to kill Bhutto, are already dead.

Men in uniform who were part of the plot provided both logistical support and arranged for rehearsals for the murder were arranged by uniformed persons. Militant groups working in sync with the nine plotters provided the manpower.

The Express Tribune said that the joint investigation team traced two new mobile phone sim cards that were used to communicate on the day Bhutto was murdered.

Sources said that following the latest investigations, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) drew up a detailed questionnaire for General Pervez Musharraf who was then president of Pakistan.

The questions were framed once the role of the nine plotters became clear and the inquiry team managed to lay its hands on the main accused who was part of the plot to eliminate Benazir, the media report said.

Sources claimed that Zardari had deliberately withheld presentation of the inquiry report before the PPP central executive committee.

Zardari had at one time made up his mind to unveil the inquiry report on Bhutto’s third death anniversary, but he changed his mind at the eleventh hour and told the interior minister to drop the idea for the time being.

Malik, who was then Bhutto’s security in-charge, refused to comment on the inquiry report, saying the matter was in a court of law.

Filed under: Terrorism

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