Saturday, January 19, 2008

15 Year Old Boy Arrested, Implicated In Bhutto Plot

By Cernig

The AP reports Pakistani authorities as saying they've made a breakthrough in the Bhutto assassination case:
A 15-year-old detained near the Afghan border has confessed to joining a team of assassins sent to kill Benazir Bhutto, officials said Saturday, announcing the first arrests in the case since the attack that killed the opposition leader.

...Interior Secretary Kamal Shah confirmed the arrest of two people in the town of Dera Ismail Khan in North West Frontier province, and said one — a teenage boy — had confessed involvement in the Dec. 27 attack that killed Bhutto. He said interrogators were trying to get corroborating testimony from the other detainee before accepting the confession.
Is it just me that thinks that's because it is taking longer to torture a quite possible false confession out of the grown man than it did the 15 year old boy? Just how seriously can we take this claim?
In North West Frontier province, a senior intelligence official said the 15-year-old suspect in the Bhutto assassination told investigators that a five-person squad was dispatched to Rawalpindi, where Bhutto was killed, by Baitullah Mehsud, a militant leader with strong ties to al-Qaida and an alliance with the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan.

The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the boy was arrested Thursday and was also involved in a plot to attack Shiites during the Ashoura festival on Sunday.
the plot, it seems, involved dumping a "small quantity" of cyanide into the public water supply. It's unclear just how effective such a move would be, since the Rawalpindi municipal water supply (about 200 million litres per day) would dilute the cyanide greatly and the oral lethal dose is in the order of 7 miligrams per kilo of body weight or about half a gram for an average person. Do the math - to be sure of lethal doses you aren't talking about "small quantities".
In Dera Ismail Khan, a town 170 miles southwest of Islamabad where the teenager was arrested, a district police commander said the suspect had made "a sensational disclosure." The officer also asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

But Maulvi Mohammed Umar, a purported spokesman for Mehsud, dismissed the report. "It is just government propaganda ... we have already clarified that we are not involved in the attack on Benazir Bhutto."

The CIA concluded that Mehsud was behind Bhutto's killing shortly after it occurred, an American intelligence official has said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Since CIA director Michael Hayden is already on record as saying Mehsud was responsible, it's very unclear why some other official feels the need to confirm his opinion while remaining anonymous, unless it's because press types love their cloak-and-dagger exclusives so much. The fact remains, however, that others within the US intelligence community aren't as certain as Hayden about who ordered Bhutto's killing and believe Musharraf's government is blaming one of its biggest internal rivals (who helpfully has ties to the taliban and very distant ties through them to Al Qaeda) to dupe the West and Pakistani opinion.

All in all, an incredibly convenient tale with some serious questions hanging over it that, as is depressingly common, went unasked by the stenographers of the mainstream press.

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