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Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3100052.ece December 27, 2007 Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects Jeremy Page, South Asia
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2007
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      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3100052.ece

      December 27, 2007
      Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects
      Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent

      The main suspects in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination
      are the Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who
      saw her as a heretic and an American stooge and had
      repeatedly threatened to kill her.

      But fingers will also be pointed at Inter-Services
      Intelligence, the agency that has had close ties to
      the Islamists since the 1970s and has been used by
      successive Pakistani leaders to suppress political
      opposition.

      Ms Bhutto narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in
      October, when a suicide bomber killed about 140 people
      at a rally in the port city of Karachi to welcome her
      back from eight years in exile.

      Earlier that month, two militant warlords based in
      Pakistan's lawless northwestern areas, near the border
      with Afghanistan, had threatened to kill her on her
      return.

      One was Baitullah Mehsud, a top commander fighting the
      Pakistani army in the tribal region of South
      Waziristan. He has close ties to al Qaeda and the
      Afghan Taleban.

      The other was Haji Omar, the “amir” or leader of the
      Pakistani Taleban, who is also from South Waziristan
      and fought against the Soviets with the Mujahideen in
      Afghanistan.

      After that attack Ms Bhutto revealed that she had
      received a letter signed by a person who claimed to be
      a friend of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden threatening
      to slaughter her like a goat.

      She accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her
      with sufficient security and hinted that they may have
      been complicit in the bomb attack. Asif Ali Zardari,
      her husband, directly accused the ISI of being
      involved in that attempt on her life.

      Mrs Bhutto stopped short of blaming the Government
      directly, saying that she had more to fear from
      unidentified members of a power structure that she
      described as allies of the “forces of militancy”.

      Analysts say that President Musharraf himself is
      unlikely to have ordered her assassination, but that
      elements of the army and intelligence service would
      have stood to lose money and power if she had become
      Prime Minister.

      The ISI, in particular, includes some Islamists who
      became radicalised while running the American-funded
      campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan and
      remained fiercely opposed to Ms Bhutto on principle.

      Saudi Arabia, which has strong influence in Pakistan,
      is also thought to frown on Ms Bhutto as being too
      secular and Westernised and to favour Nawaz Sharif,
      another former Prime Minister.
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