Taliban claims responsibility for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in new book

Updated on Jan 15, 2018 12:21 PM IST

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had earlier denied any involvement in Benazir’s assassination.

In this Dec. 27, 2007 file photo, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto waves to her supporters during her last public rally, in Rawalpindi.(AP)
In this Dec. 27, 2007 file photo, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto waves to her supporters during her last public rally, in Rawalpindi.(AP)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Pakistani Taliban have for the first time claimed responsibility for the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a book written by a senior leader of the banned militant group.

After Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, members of military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s regime had blamed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for the assassination. However, the group and its leaders had never spoken about the incident so far.

The Urdu language book Inqilab Mehsood South Waziristan - From British Raj to American Imperialism, written by Taliban leader Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali and published on November 30, 2017 at Maseed Computer Center at Barmal in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, makes the claim that suicide bombers Bilal, also known as Saeed, and Ikramullah were tasked to carry out the attack on Bhutto.

“Bomber Bilal first fired at Benazir Bhutto from his pistol and the bullet hit her neck. Then he detonated his explosive jacket and blew himself up among the participants of the procession,” the book says, according to The Daily Times newspaper.

Soon after Bhutto was killed, the Musharraf regime had released a recording of a conversation between the two Taliban members discussing the assassination.

The 588-page book, which contains numerous photographs of Taliban leaders, was posted online on Sunday.

The book says Ikramullah, a resident of Makeen town in South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, had escaped from the scene of the attack and is still alive. The book does not say if this is the same Ikramullah who was declared a fugitive along with five others by the anti-terrorism court hearing the assassination case.

The book further says the Taliban were also involved in an attack by two suicide bombers on an earlier procession by Bhutto in Karachi in October 2007, which killed nearly 140 people.

“Despite attacks on Benazir Bhutto’s procession in Karachi, the government had not taken appropriate security measures that made it possible for the attackers to have easy access to Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi,” it adds.

After a prolonged trial, the anti-terrorism court acquitted five Taliban suspects last year and gave 17-year prison terms to two police officers for dereliction of duty. It also declared Musharraf a fugitive. Musharraf has repeatedly denied any involvement in the matter and dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated.

Baitullah Mehsud, who headed the Taliban at the time of the assassination, was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan in 2009.

The book notes that investigators had blamed the Taliban for Bhutto’s killing but Mehsud had initially denied involvement. It says the Taliban leaders from the Mehsud clan had denied any involvement until December 27, 2017, Bhutto’s 10th death anniversary, but gives no reason why they had changed their stance.

The book also reveals that Baitullah Mehsud had approved the attack on Bhutto’s procession in Karachi in October, 2007, when she returned to Pakistan from self-exile to campaign for the 2008 elections.

“The return of Benazir Bhutto was planned at the behest of the Americans as they had given her a plan against the Mujahideed-e-Islam. Baitullah had received information of the plan,” the book claims.

“So when Benazir Bhutto arrived in Karachi, two suicide bombers Mohsin Mehsud and Rehmatullah Mehsud carried out attacks on her procession at Karsaz area of Karachi,” the book says.

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