While al Qaeda is considered by the U.S. to be a likely suspect in the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Banazir Bhutto, U.S. intelligence officials say they cannot confirm an initial claim of responsibility for the attack, supposedly from an al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan.Let's speculate on the assumption that this claim of responsibility is true --- what would be the motivation? Is it a simple defensive move against a prominent politician and leader who has made strong anti-Al-Queada statements? Or is there something else that could be going on?
An obscure Italian Web site said Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told its reporter in a phone call, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedeen."....
Bhutto had been outspoken in her opposition to al Qaeda....
"She openly threatened al Qaeda, and she had American support," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism adviser. "If al Qaeda could try to kill Musharraf twice, it could easily do this," he said.
Al Qaeda had claimed responsibility for the bomb attack Oct. 18 during Bhutto's homecoming rally that killed 140 people but left the former prime minister uninjured.
If it is not only a defensive move against a probable power broker after the probably postponed/suspended elections, then what else could Al-Quaeda have been seeking? I have two ideas. The first is an audacious attempt, and most likely terminally dumb idea for Al-Quaeda in the Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas, to force a social systempunkt similiar to the Samarra mosque bombing forced in Iraq where the society fragments along pre-exisiting fault lines and civil war ensues. There are early reports of chaos and disorder already. We'll know more in a couple of days if these riots do not calm down. If this is the goal, then it is a dumb goal from the long run viability view of Al-Quaeda as it gives the state legitimacy to wage total war , which is its core competency against the group(s).
The other, and smarter goal if this was an Al-Queada attack may be a civil space shaping operation. If Mushareff continues to crack down against Western aligned, middle class, indepedent political oppositions, then the only source of legitimate opposition is in the religious organizations. Islamists are not that popular in Pakistan but there active, and implicit support would increase if they become the only viable opposition to an unpopular and foreign backed military ruler. It would feed into the Al-Queada meta-narrative against rulers in Islamic nations that are propped up by the United States.
This is all speculation at this point, and we need to see how things play out before any real analysis can begin.