A book ‘Inqilab Mehsud South Waziristan: From British Raj To American Imperialism’ released on Nov 30, 2017, claiming to have been written by one Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali, reportedly a senior leader of Taliban, claims responsibility for the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. It is for the first time that Taliban officially on record have confessed the murder of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The earlier investigation done by JIT headed by a senior officer of FIA has also concluded that the Taliban/TTP and Al-Qaeda had carried out the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. TTP Chief Baitullah Mehsud and his associates hatched the said conspiracy in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency.
According to the earlier investigations, two suicide bombers provided by Baitullah Mehsud were identified. One was Bilal a/k/a Saeed who blew himself at Liaquat Bagh resulting in Shahadat of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, whereas Ikramullah, the second suicide bomber escaped from the scene and his current whereabouts have recently been reported in Afghanistan. He is presently in the area of Paktia, which falls under the control of Afghanistan.
The claims made by the author in the recently published said book are summarised and analysed here. About the first attempt on Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at Karachi known as Karsaz incident the writer claims that “Prior to return of Benazir Bhutto for elections of 2008, Baitullah Mehsud had already planned action against her as she was coming back to carry out plans against ‘Mujahideen-e-Islam’ as per desire of America. In order to frustrate the American plan, two suicide bombers namely Mohsin Mehsud and Rehmatullah Mehsud carried out suicide attacks on Benazir Bhutto at Karsaz, Karachi, in October 2007, which resulted in killing of approximately 200 people but Benazir Bhutto escaped the attack. The reason for the unsuccessful attack was the deviation of the instructions by the suicide bombers. The suicide bombers abandoned their place of position, which was near the stage, and carried out their attacks in hurry. Both the suicide bombers were associated with the training camp of Maulvi Azmatullah. Planned attack on Benazir Bhutto at Larkana could not be carried out due to a tip off to police by a so-called Taliban Mujahid, Mehraj Kaikhel”.
The writer in the said book has made claims about the assassination attack at Rawalpindi and writes as “Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, carried out by TTP. Two suicide bombers Bilal a/k/a Saeed and Ikramullah were tasked to carry out the attack on Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007. The first suicide bomber Bilal a/k/a Saeed, hailing from Badar, first fired at Benazir Bhutto from his pistol and the bullet hit her neck. Then he detonated his explosive jacket and blew himself up in the middle of the participants of the procession. The second suicide bomber Ikramullah, a resident of Makeen town in South Waziristan, escaped from the blast site and is still alive.
\According to Maulvi Imran, who was interviewed by the author of the book, he [Maulvi Imran] was assisted by Ahmed, Qari Ismail and Mullah Ehsan in the assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto. Since Commander Nasrullah Ahmed, resident of Said Ghai Barmal Rabot, had come under the spotlight of the secret agencies after his participation in the assassination attack on Benazir Bhutto as such he shifted to Mohmand Agency from Peshawar. In 2008, when he, along with one of associates Ismail [Qari Ismail] and a teenage suicide bomber Naqeebullah Mehsud was on his mission of suicide attack in Mohmand Agency, they were checked by the army at Nakai check post at Mohmand resulting a fight took place between them and the army consequent to which all the three suicide bombers were killed. Although Benazir Bhutto had escaped assassination attempt at Karachi yet the government did not provide her adequate security due to which the suicide bombers ‘Fadayeen’ managed to reach to her close proximity. After blast at Rawalpindi, the whole evidence was destroyed to frustrate the investigation”.
The above claims have been made by the author Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali and here are the comments have been made based on the investigation of FIA JIT, which is part of the court trial. The FIA investigation had earlier identified Ikramullah as second suicide bomber who had fled from the scene after the attack by Bilal a/k/a Saeed. In the investigation, he was declared proclaimed offender by the trial court. It may be mentioned here that one of the arrested accused persons namely Rashid Turabi in his confessional statement had stated that Qari Ismail a/k/a Nadir, along with Nasrullah a/k/a Ahmed had stayed at his hostel room Madrassa Munbah-ul-Aloom, Miranshah, on his way to Baitullah Mehsud to collect suicide bomber and on their way back along with the suicide bomber Saeed a/k/a Bilal, who was tasked to carry out suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto. Qari Ismail had taken the suicide bomber to Akora Khattak where he was handed over to Nasrullah to take him along with another suicide bomber Ikramullah to Rawalpindi. Qari Ismail a/k/a Nadir Khan was, consequently, declared Proclaimed Offender by the trial court.
According to the conclusion of the investigation of FIA, Nasrullah Ahmed was the handler of the suicide bombers who had stayed overnight along with the suicide bombers at the house of Rafaqat Hussain, an arrested accused, and he was present at the Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi at the time and date of assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto. His presence at the house of accused Rafaqat Hussain and at the crime scene was proven through geo-fencing and forensic evidence. Nasrullah was also declared Proclaimed Offender by the trial court.
This was also the conclusion of JIT that the government of General Musharraf did not provide security despite knowing the level of threat and according to Taliban they had identified the lack of provision of security to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto during her public addresses, of which they took advantage to penetrate in the gathering and to reach to the close proximity of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The book authored by Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali, who is a senior leader in the TTP group based in Afghanistan, has corroborated the facts of the investigation carried out by the JIT of FIA such as: (1) Baitullah Mehsud had directed the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto; (2) the conspiracy/planning for the assassination attack on 27th December 2007 was made at a hostel room of Madrassa Haqqania; (3) Bilal a/k/a Saeed and Ikramullah, had been identified as suicide bombers; (4) Nasrullah Ahmed, was identified as handler of the suicide bombers of Rawalpindi attack and (5) identification of Qari Ismail a/k/a Nadir Khan, who brought suicide bomber Bilal a/k/a Saeed from Baitullah Mehsud to Madrassa Haqqania.
The investigation by the JIT of FIA had further established that it was Madrassa Haqqania from where Nasrullah Ahmed had taken two suicide bombers namely Bilal a/k/a Saeed and Ikramullah to Rawalpindi on the intervening night of 26 and 27 December 2007 where they were received by Hussain Gul and Rafaqat Hussain under the instructions of one Ibad-ur-Rehman – another proclaimed offender who was later killed as a result of a solo drone attack at Khyber Agency, when FIA had started hunting the accused.
The revelations in the book, therefore, indicate that the material/evidences submitted in the trial court in the form of a challan was authentic, duly substantiated with the evidence against all the accused persons, whether arrested or proclaimed offenders.
The trial took nine years eight months and three days and despite irrefutable evidence, it acquitted five main accused namely Hasnain Gul, Rafaqat Hussain, Abdul Rashid Turabi, Sher Zaman and Aitzaz Shah. The government of Pakistan has filed an appeal against the acquittal and the matter is now pending in the high court.
It has been confirmed from reliable resources that Ikramullah is present in Paktia province of Afghanistan and has now become a senior leader of TTP. It is reported that he had survived a murder attack last year. He is the second suicide bomber who proceeded to Rawalpindi for the said suicide attack. He is therefore very important accused who is alive and can reveal certain more information regarding Shahadat of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The surviving suicide bombers and proclaimed offender namely Ikramullah and the TTP leader and author of this book namely Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali, is required to be investigated by Pakistani authorities/agencies on urgent basis for further investigation.
I demand from the federal government to have these new disclosures verified and get Ikramullah and author Abu Mansoor deported from Afghanistan to Pakistan for investigation to collect more information from them and take further legal action.
The writer is Chairman of think tank "Global Eye", Senate Standing Committee on Interior & former interior minister of Pakistan. He can be reached at Email: rmalik1212gmail.com, Twitter Senrehmanmalik, GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393