"He had no involvement in this attack," spokesman Maulana Omar said in a telephone call. "This is a conspiracy of the government, army and intelligence agencies."
"It is against tribal tradition and custom to attack a woman," Omar said.
He said the transcript released by the government, allegedly of a phone call between Mehsud and a militant discussing Bhutto's death after the fact, was a "drama" and expressed sadness over her assassination on Thursday.
He said it would have been "impossible" for militants to get through the security cordon around the campaign rally where she was killed.
"Benazir was not only a leader of Pakistan but also a leader of international fame. We express our deep grief and shock over her death," Omar said.
Not guilty for "tradition" of not targeting women? There is evidence supporting that "tradition". Baitullah and his previous ally, Qari Hussain Ahmad, went to battle for control last summer over disagreements with Ahmad's brutal methods and excessive killing of women and children. Baitullah was not at all pleased, and neither was Afghan Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.
The internal battles between these Taliban elements exposed what Ray Robison has been repeating for months now... that the global Islamic Jihad movement is splitting at it's base. These summer battles were part of a larger inter-Taliban family war.
But would this "tradition" of hands-off women extend to Benazir? Only this October, Baitullah had this to say of both Musharraf and Benazir. From one of Bill Roggio's stories at the LongWarJournal:
"My men will welcome Bhutto on her return," Baitullah told a Senator. "We don’t accept President General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto because they only protect the US interest and see things through its glasses. They’re only acceptable if they wear the Pakistani glasses."
It is also noted that he had publicly made threats on Bhutto's life, even before she returned and, according to Anthony Bruno at CrimeLibrary, instructed AQ operatives to kill Benazir in Karachi. Perhaps he spoke more clearly of his methods with his January statement, "As far as jihad is concerned, we will continue to wage it. We will do what is in the interest of Islam.". And that may very well involve murder of a female politician, publicly advocating western notions.
Also a released transcript of the conversations between Mehsud and one referred to as Maulvi Sahib (which, translated I believe means Mr. Cleric) seems to indicate Baitullah doth protest too much... Transcript, courtesy and HT to Lt. Col. Caveman at Ramblings from the Rock.
Maulvi Sahib (MS): Asalaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)
Baitullah Mehsud (BM): Waleikum Asalam (And also with you)
MS: Chief, how are you?
BM: I am fine.
MS: Congratulations, I just got back during the night.
BM: Congratulations to you, were they our men?
MS: Yes they were ours.
BM: Who were they?
MS: There was Saeed, there was Bilal from Badar and Ikramullah.
BM: The three of them did it?
MS: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.
BM: Then congratulations.
MS: Where are you? I want to meet you.
BM: I am at Makeen (town in South Waziristan tribal region), come over, I am at Anwar Shah's house.
MS: OK, I'll come.
BM: Don't inform their house for the time being.
BM: It was a tremendous effort. They were really brave boys who killed her.
MS: Mashallah (Thank God). When I come I will give you all the details.
BM: I will wait for you. Congratulations, once again congratulations.
MS: Congratulations to you.
BM: Anything I can do for you?
MS: Thank you very much.
BM: Asalaam Aleikum.
MS: Waaleikum Asalaam.
"Yes, they were ours..." Speaks volumes to the involvement.
So what is this consistent and deliberate attempt by both media and some members of the Pakistan ministry to portray Taliban tribal leader Mehsud as AQ instead of mentioning his newly created position as head of Pakistan Taliban (aka Tehrik Taliban-i-Pakistan)? And why would Baitullah and the Taliban not wish to take credit for a successful mission? For despite Benazir's actual cause of death, the events - if meant to take her life - were ultimately successful.
My only guess at this time is if Baitullah and the Taliban claim responsibility, they invite more of what Musharraf is already doing... running thru the tribal areas with heavy military to clean house... all while their former allies, MMA militants, stand idly by. Obviously the tribal belt and Taliban cannot afford any more rifts and divides. Throwing all of Pakistan into chaos offers them no benefit, and instead makes them the target of their own countrymen.
However, AQ... everyone's favorite "catch all" terror group... can always benefit from even false claims of responsibility, and any ensuing chaos. So it's entirely possible that Baitullah gave the orders to kill, and planned never to take credit for the event but remain sheltered from condemnation under the AQ umbrella of confession.
Lt. Col. Caveman has a very interesting perspective on Pakistan's behind the scenes path. He suggests Musharraf needs and desires a PPP (Benazir's party) PM. What I find especially interesting is the second to last paragraph. Her death was quite inconvenient to the election/power-sharing plans. But the vengeful nature of Pakistanis against a perceived AQ plot (not necessarily Taliban) for her murder may provide the popular support Musharraf needs to widen the fight not only the tribal Taliban, but to AQ in total.
Getting the election over and done with and getting a PPP Prime Minister into power to establish a popularly elected coalition against Al Qaeda and the foreign Taliban is crucial to Musharraf if he is to begin using US assistance to bring the war to Al Qaeda in the FATA region.
His Army can prevent any infiltration of insurgents out of the FATA region and American high tech UAVs and airpower can systematically destroy Al Qaaeda/foreign Taliban safe havens all in the name of retribution and vengence for Bhutto's assassination.
The end result is this buys Musharraf a few more years until subsequent elections where he and the PPP will have to answer to the people again. If successful, his popularity will increase as will the PPP's, Al Qaeda and foreign Taliban will be significanlty degraded if not defeated, and Pakistan will once again be united, moving forward with economic projects to enhance his country's wealth to include several oil pipelines, here and here the recently completed (and soon to be enhanced) port in Gwadar to bring these oil supplies and other goods to the Arabian Sea and to the international market.
Noting the route of both of these pipelines, especially the one from the Caspian Sea, it is critical to the future prosperity of Pakistan to assist Afghanistan in it battle against the Taliban. However, until Bhutto's assassination, he has not had the popular support to wage full up war against Al Qaeda.
Her assassination and the upcoming January elections may change all that. One can only hope that Pakistan can go forward with US assistance in a battle against Al Qaeda as the FATA region is Al Qaeda's current unassailable base from which it continues its campaign of exporting terror and economic depression, not only in Pakistan, but also in Afghanistan and to the rest of the world.
I like the way this guy thinks.... Thanks for the link to his blog, Ray.