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Archive for August, 2009

Aide says Pakistani Taliban leader killed by US

Posted by :) on August 7, 2009

Source- AP ( Associated Press)
By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD and MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writers Ishtiaq Mahsud And Munir Ahmad, Associated Press Writers 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – Pakistan’s Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, who unleashed a fearsome campaign of suicide attacks and assassinations that made him the country’s most-wanted man, was killed in a U.S. missile strike, an aide said Friday.

The U.S. put a $5 million bounty on his head in March. Increasingly, American missiles fired by unmanned drones have focused on Mehsud-related targets.

While his demise would be a major boost to Pakistani and U.S. efforts to eradicate the Taliban and al-Qaida, it won’t necessarily deal a definitive blow because he has deputies who could take his place.

Already, Taliban commanders were meeting Friday in a shura, or council, in the lawless tribal area of South Waziristan to choose his successor, according to intelligence and militant officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. It was unclear when they would reach a decision.

Considered by Pakistan to be its top internal threat, Mehsud had al-Qaida connections and was suspected in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials said the CIA was behind the strike Wednesday that killed Mehsud. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Pakistan publicly opposes the missile strikes, saying they anger local tribes and make it harder for the army to operate. Still, many analysts suspect the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.

In June, Pakistan said it was launching an operation against Mehsud in South Waziristan. But although airstrikes began, the offensive never went full-scale. In the meantime, the U.S. missile strikes continued, increasingly targeting Mehsud and raising speculation that the Pakistanis were hoping — or even coordinating with — the Americans to kill Mehsud first.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said intelligence showed Mehsud had been killed in his father-in-law’s house in Pakistan’s lawless tribal area, and authorities would travel to the site to verify his death.

“I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,” Taliban commander Kafayat Ullah told The Associated Press by telephone. He would not elaborate.

For years, the U.S. considered Mehsud a lesser threat to its interests than some of the other Pakistani Taliban, their Afghan counterparts and al-Qaida, because most of his attacks were focused inside Pakistan, not against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

That view appeared to change in recent months as Mehsud’s power grew and concerns mounted that increasing violence in Pakistan could destabilize the U.S. ally and threaten the entire region.

Last year, Mehsud held a rare news conference the town of Kot Kai in South Waziristan to discuss his fight against the U.S.

“It is the top desire of my life to obtain martyrdom, I have strong feelings for the martyrdom in my heart,” he said. “To be a martyr, to be wounded or arrested we consider it as a sacrifice.”

He said the Taliban supported suicide bombings as a response to American bombs.

“America is bombing us and we are facing cruelty, so we will support these suicide attacks.” he said. “They (suicide bombers) are our atom bombs. Although the infidels have the atom bombs, our atom bombs are the finest in the world.

“They use the atom (bomb) and it destroyed everything while our one bomb just targets one target to be destroyed.”

Analysts say the reason for Mehsud’s rise in the militant ranks is his alliances with al-Qaida and other violent groups. U.S. intelligence has said al-Qaida has set up its operational headquarters in Mehsud’s South Waziristan stronghold and neighboring North Waziristan.

Three Pakistani intelligence officials said the likeliest successor was Mehsud’s deputy, Hakim Ullah, a commander known for recruiting and training suicide bombers. Two other prominent possibilities, the officials said, were Azmat Ullah and Waliur Rehman, also close associates of Mehsud.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A local tribesman, who also spoke on condition his name not be used, said Mehsud had been at his father-in-law’s house being treated for kidney pain, and had been put on a drip by a doctor when the missile struck. The tribesman claimed he attended the Taliban chief’s funeral.

The Pakistani intelligence officials said Mehsud was buried in the village of Nardusai in South Waziristan, near the site of the missile strike.

Last year, a doctor for Mehsud said the militant leader had died of kidney failure, but the report turned out to be false.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration could not confirm the death of Mehsud. “There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he said, adding that if he is dead, “without a doubt, the people of Pakistan will be safer as a result.”

Another senior Pakistani intelligence official said phone and other communications intercepts — he would not be more specific — had led authorities to suspect Mehsud was dead, but stressed there was no definitive evidence yet.

An American counterterrorism official said the U.S. government was also looking into the reports. The official indicated the United States did not yet have physical evidence — remains — that would prove who died but said there were other ways of determining who was killed. He declined to describe them.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter publicly.

Whether a new leader could wreak as much havoc as Mehsud depends largely on how much pressure the Pakistani military continues to put on the network, especially in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal belt. The mountainous region has a leaky border with Afghanistan and fiercely independent, heavily armed tribes hostile to interference by outsiders. The Pashtun tribes from which the Taliban draws most of its fighters straddle both sides of the border.

Although Mehsud’s stronghold in South Waziristan does not directly border Afghanistan, he was known to have ties to other commanders acting on the frontier and was believed to give refuge to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan who move freely back and forth across the border.

In Afghanistan, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said Mehsud’s fighters would cross the border into eastern Afghanistan occasionally to help out one of most ruthless Afghan insurgent leaders, Siraj Haqqani.

“He was an international terrorist that affected India, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Azimi said, without confirming Mehsud was dead.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Pakistan’s military was determined to finish off Pakistan’s Taliban.

“It is a targeted law enforcement action against Baitullah Mehsud‘s group and it will continue till Baitullah Mehsud’s group is eliminated forever,” he said.

Pakistan’s record on putting pressure on the Taliban network is spotty. It has used both military action and truces to try to contain Mehsud over the years, but neither tactic seemed to work, despite billions in U.S. aid aimed at helping the Pakistanis tame the tribal areas.

Mehsud was not that prominent a militant when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to Mahmood Shah, a former security chief for the tribal regions. In fact, he has struggled against such rivals as Abdullah Mehsud, an Afghan war veteran who spent time in Guantanamo Bay.

But a February 2005 peace deal with Mehsud appeared to give him room to consolidate and boost his troop strength. Within months of that accord, dozens of pro-government tribal elders in the region were gunned down on his command.

In December 2007, Mehsud became the head of a new coalition called the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistan’s Taliban movement. Under his guidance, the group killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide and other attacks.

Mehsud has no record of attacking targets in the West, although he has threatened to attack Washington.

He was suspected of being behind a 10-man cell arrested in Barcelona in January 2008 for plotting suicide attacks in Spain. Pakistan’s former government and the CIA named him as the prime suspect behind the December 2007 killing of Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister. He denied any role.

___

Munir Ahmad reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Elena Becatoros, Nahal Toosi and Zarar Khan in Islamabad, and Pamela Hess in Washington contributed to this report.

File photo shows Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud ...

File photo shows Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud (C) speaking to media representatives at his stronghold in the tribal district of South Waziristan near the Afghan border. Pakistan said it believed that Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack, which if confirmed would score a coup in the US-led fight against Islamist militants.

(AFP/File/Ijaz Mehmood)

Map showing South Waziristan in Pakistan. Pakistan said it believed ...
Fri Aug 7, 10:24 AM ET


Map showing South Waziristan in Pakistan. Pakistan said it believed that the nation’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack, which if confirmed would score a coup in the US-led fight against Islamist militants.

(AFP/Graphic)

Posted in AF-PAK, Deadly missions, Hizbul Mujhahideen, KILLING AND BLASTS, Lashkar -e - taiba, Pakistan based terrorism, Suicide Bomber, Taliban, Terror Target | 1 Comment »

IN PICS -2003 twin Mumbai blasts convicts sentenced to death

Posted by :) on August 6, 2009

Source : ibnlive.com

CONVICT NO 1

CONVICT NO 1

Ashrat Shafiq Mohammed Ansari, one of the accused in the 2003 Mumbai bombings, is escorted by policemen outside the Arthur Road Jail on the way to the court in Mumbai on August 4, 2009.

A special POTA court last week had found Fahmeeda, her husband and another man guilty in twin bombings that killed 52 people and wounded 100 in Mumbai six years ago.

CONVICT NO 2

CONVICT NO 2

Syed Mohammed Haneef Abdul Rahim, one of the accused in the 2003 Mumbai bombings, is escorted by policemen outside the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai on August 4, 2009.

CONVICT NO 3

CONVICT NO 3

Fahmida Syed Mohammed Haneef, one of the accused in the 2003 Mumbai bombings, is escorted by policemen outside the Byculla Jail before being taken to court in Mumbaion August 4, 2009.

DAMAGE DONE

DAMAGE DONE

In this 2003 file photo, a policeman looks at a car damaged in a bomb blast at the Gateway of India, background, in Mumbai.

SENTENCED TO DEATH

SENTENCED TO DEATH

Police officials escort Mohammad Hanif, convicted for plotting two coordinated blasts in Mumbai in August 2003, from a jail in Mumbai.

Posted in Mumbai Terror attack, Mumbai Terror in Pictures, Mumbaikar's anger, Terrorism, Terrorist attack, Woman terrorist | Leave a Comment »

3 sentenced to death for ’03 Mumbai twin blasts CNN-IBN

Posted by :) on August 6, 2009

Mumbai: Six years after the twin blasts at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar, which left 53 people dead, a special POTA Court in Mumbai has sentenced three convicted persons – Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida and Ashrat Shafique Ansari – to death.

The prosecution said that this was the rarest of rare case. Prosecution had asked for a death sentence for all three convicts in the last hearing, pointing out the blasts were carried out with “exceptional cruelty”. The prosecution also said that the twin blasts were a gruesome crime.

After the sentencing, Special Public Prosecutor for the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Ujjwal Nikam said that 54 people lost their lives in the twin blasts.

Arguing for the death penalty, Nikam had said they intended to target foreign tourists who throng the Gateway of India and the famous Mahalaxmi Temple. However, since their vehicle developed a snag, the second blast took place in Zaveri Bazaar, the hub of the jewellery trade in the city.

“This is a significant judgement. It’s because of these ‘devils’ that 54 persons lost their lives and another 244 were injured,” Nikam, who led the prosecution case during the six-year trial, said.

He revealed that the three convicts have been sentenced under Indian penal Code Sections 302 and 307, and Explosives Substance Act.

“The conspiracy was hatched in Dubai and some Pakistani nationals were also involved. The bomb that was planted in Ghatkopar was of less intensity. That is why they planned to carry out blasts in Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India. There was also a conspiracy to carry out blasts at Mumba Devi Temple,” said Nikam.

Ujjwal Nikam had said that the sentence was a “big blow to Lashakr-e-Toiba with the three accused being convicted”. The three had been convicted under POTA section 3(5).

“They planned to put a bomb in a BEST bus on December 2, 2002 but it did not go off. They then put a bomb again in a BEST bus in July 2003 and two people were killed in the explosion. But their commaders allegedly told them to plan high-intensity blasts. That’s how Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar blasts happened. It’s the first case where a family – husband, wife and their daughter – were involved in the attack,” Nikam had said.

A terror module of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit was allegedly involved in planting the powerful bombs in two cabs and triggering them by timers on August 25, 2003.

It was one of the most awaited judgement in a terrorist case after the Special TADA Court completed the March 2, 1993, serial blasts trial in 2007 which led to the conviction of 100 people, including Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, now a Samajwadi Party leader.

The court observed that “it was the murder charges levelled against the the three that led the court to give death penalty”.

Defence lawyers — Wahab Khan (representing Hanif), Sudesh Pasgola (Fahimida) and S. Kunjuraman (Ashrat) — had said their clients were innocent.

“This is a baseless and meaningless judgement. There is not an iota of evidence against my client (Ashrat) to hold him guilty. I shall move the Bombay High Court,” Kunjuraman said after the ruling came in.

Khan had argued that this was not “the rarest of rare cases” so it did not warrant the death penalty.

“My client had no personal grudge against any of the victims in the incidents, they were simply misguided and indoctrinated,” Khan had said.

Defence had also argued that Fahmida should be given a lenient sentence as she followed the orders of her husband and that she had her children to look after but the argument was rejected by the court.

HISTORY OF THE CASE

Soon after the twin blasts, Mumbai police arrested six people including one woman.

The accused were Mohammed Hanif Sayed, his wife Fahimida, Ashrat Shafique Ansari, Zahid Yusuf Patni, Rizwan Laddoowala and A Shaikh Batterywala.

Sayed’s daughter Farheen was also arrested but was then let off almost immediately by the POTA court for lack of evidence.

The chargesheet filed on February 5, 2004 accuses them of conspiring with the Lashkar-e-Toiba to carry out terror strikes in the country. Police found that the conspiracy was hatched in Dubai and the motive was allegedly to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots.

One of the accused, Zahid Yusuf Patni turned approver in June 2004 and confessed to his role in the attacks. He revealed how he lived and worked in Dubai where he met Hanif, who had gone there to work as an electrician. There they met some other persons who provoked them “to take revenge for the Gujarat riots of 2002”.

After hatching the blasts conspiracy in Dubai, they prepared themselves for the assignment with all the required resources and finally carried out the terror strikes in Mumbai.

In 2008, Laddoowala and Batterywala were let off for lack of evidence. The matter was challenged before the Supreme Court which finally ordered their discharge in November 2008, proving a setback to the prosecution case, spearheaded by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

A total of 103 witnesses were examined, prime among them a taxi driver whose vehicle was used to plant the bomb.

Three Special POTA Judges conducted the trial – AP Bhangale, SS Joshi and currently, Special Judge Puranik.

WHO SAID WHAT

A victim of the blasts, Rajin Ranjan Mahto says, “I am very happy that they have been sentenced to death. Had it been done two or three years earlier, it would have been better. I was very close to blast site at Gateway of India but I survived the blast since I was behind some tourists. There were people who died instantly. I was in the hospital for four months after that. The accused have children, but they have to realise that those who died in the blast had family members to take care of as well. Considering this, they have been awarded appropriately.”

Suresh Wallishetty, who was the ACP at the time of the blasts, welcomed the sentence too. He said, “I am happy with the judgment and very proud of the Mumbai Police. In this case, we had very good recovery and technical evidence. There were good witnesess, all of whom deposed before the court.”

Posted in death, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Indo-Pak static quo

Posted by :) on August 5, 2009

Source – TOI

Jug Suraiya


The babblocracy – the collective name for the policy formulators and so-called opinion-makers in government and media – have put Manmohan Singh in the doghouse. In a joint statement he made in Egypt together with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, the PM deviated from the official ‘line’ on Pakistan. He did not recite the ritualistic mantra that there can be no talks with Islamabad unless Pakistan renounces its covert
support of cross-border terrorism. Secondly, he allowed inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement. Islamabad has accused New Delhi of fomenting insurrection in Balochistan, in much the same way as India charges Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in this country. The PM’s detractors claim that by permitting use of the B-word, he implicitly admitted to India’s clandestine involvement in that troubled province, thus legitimising Pakistan’s role in Kashmir.
Such non-reasoning is both specious and paranoid, and it totally misrepresents Manmohan Singh’s intentions and objectives. What were these? To try and break the stalemate that has deadlocked Indo-Pak relations for over 60 years – to the economic, political and social detriment of both countries – by creating a broader, mutually acceptable space for negotiation. In short, Manmohan tried – foolhardily, as it turned out – to try and find a viable and lasting solution to the Indo-Pak enmity which has bedevilled the subcontinent for over six decades.
Sinking into the quicksand of its internal conflicts and contradictions – army rule versus democracy, Taliban versus civil society, regionalism versus central authority – Pakistan needs all the help it can get to save itself. And Manmohan thought – wrongly, as has been made clear to him – that India, in its own best interests, might be able to go not an extra mile, but perhaps an extra inch, in trying to reduce tension between the two countries.

Manmohan’s conciliatory move triggered a virulent backlash in India, with critics making it only too clear that New Delhi should not concede even half an inch to Islamabad, particularly not when the wounds of 26/11are still bleeding in public memory. The Indian PM’s initiative may have been mistimed. But the reaction that it has provoked has brought one aspect of Indo-Pak relations to light: namely, that it is not just Islamabad, but New Delhi as well which has a vested interest in maintaining what might be called the static quo between the two countries.

The general perception in India has been that Islamic, feudal Pakistan has always needed a perpetually adversa
rial India in order to exist. India, on the contrary, with its pluralist democracy and rapidly expanding and increasingly inclusivist economy, has never required the bogey of Pakistan the better to cohere together. The fallout of Manmohan Singh’s statement, however, suggests that democratic, secular, economically buoyant India needs a demonised Pakistan as much as a feudalistic, fundamentalist and bankrupt Pakistan needs a hated and feared India.
Both countries need a whipping boy in each other to keep their respective constituencies in a state of diversionary fear. The ruling establishments in both countries – in Pakistan, the army and the feudal political class; in India, our netas, babus and mediacrats – find it not just convenient but necessary to keep alive the image of an ill-intentioned neighbour who can be used to whip up nationalist emotion, often at the expense of rationalist thought. Unrest in Balochistan? Blame it on India. Militancy in Kashmir? Blame it on Pakistan.
If there had been no Indo-Pak problem, both countries would have had to invent one. Fortunately, there is an Indo-Pak problem. And Manmohan Singh has rightly been rapped across the knuckles for being so irresponsible as trying to disinvent it. What was he thinking of?

Posted in 26/11, AF-PAK, Terrorism, Terrorist attack | Leave a Comment »