Clash at Islamabad’s Red Mosque

Batan-wielding, burka-clad, sharia-enforcing women of the Lal Masjid. Click to view.

Pro-Taliban students at the Lal Masjid attack Pakistani Rangers, one killed; The Lal Masjid calls for sucide attacks

Pakistani security forces have clashed with the followers of Taliban supporters Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed at the notorious Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in the hear of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. One member of the Pakistani Rangers, a paramilitary police force, was killed and two wounded, and seven students of the Lal Masjid were wounded after the students initiated the fighting. “The clashes began when around 150 students attacked a security picket at a government office near the capital’s Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, snatched weapons and took four government officials hostage,” police told Reuters.

“Paramilitary forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of students outside the mosque, and came under fire from automatic weapons,” according to Reuters. This account is backed by Pakistan’s The News and the Pak Tribune. The Asia Times’ Syed Saleem Shahzad said the Pakistani Rangers struck first, claiming “Pakistani paramilitary forces were on Tuesday let loose against Lal Masjid” as “the precursor to a major operation in Pakistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda.”

Yesterday, Mr. Shahzad claimed the U.S. has been given a green light to attack targets at will in the tribal areas of North Waziristan and South Waziristan. These claims have been made in the past but the Pakistani government has continued to appease the Taliban and al Qaeda from the tribal areas to Islamabad. Recently, President Pervez Musharraf said he was willing to raid the Red Mosque but feared media coverage of the assault would radicalize the population.

At first, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed ordered their cadre of suicide bombers to hold fast. “We request all those who are to carry out suicide bomb attacks not to carry out any attack at this moment,” Reuters reported. Suicide bombers from the allied Jaish-e-Mohammad are believed to be holed up in the mosque. Aziz and Ghazi have repeatedly threatened to launch a suicide campaign if the mosque was assaulted by Pakistani security forces.

Aziz and Ghazi have now issued a broadcast within the mosque calling for suicide attacks. “We had asked to stop the firing 10 minutes ago, but as the firing continues we are calling for suicide attacks,” Reuters reported.

The clash at the Lal Masjid occurred as the Pakistani Rangers were reinforcing positions around the mosque. About 1,500 Rangers, backed by 500 police commandos, have been deployed to positions around the mosque, Dawn reported. The forces were deployed in a defensive posture, “But the forces deployed near the mosque will take stern action against Lal Masjid students if they take law in their own hands or attack any massage centre or CDs shop,” a security official told Dawn. The fighters at the “Lal Masjid also had reinforced its brigade by calling more activists from other areas and seminarie” and possessed “advanced weapons, wireless systems and special masks to be used in the event of a gas attack.”

The Lal Masjid showdown intensified at the end of March, when Maulana Abdul Aziz, the senior cleric at the mosque gave the government seven days to impose sharia law, and began setting up sharia courts and sending out the burka-clad, baton-wielding female students as enforcement squads. Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leader of the Lal Masjid, stated the brigade can now enforce sharia and attack CD and video shops in the capital.

The Pakistani government has caved to Aziz and Ghazi’s demands. Kidnapped police and government officials have been held hostage for long periods of time and only released after members of the Lal Masjid were released from custody. The government has failed to enforce arrest warrants for wanted suspects inside the mosque. And the government will rebuild mosques that were demolished after being illegally built.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Tags:

15 Comments

  • Tony says:

    Reuters is now reporting that a call for suicide bombers has just been issued from inside the mosque:
    http://tinyurl.com/33tqqj

  • Taliban-style Mosque Raided in Pakistan

    Things are heating up in Islamabad.

  • GK says:

    Iran’s worst case scenario regarding nuclear weapons is close to what Pakistan already is…

  • C-Low says:

    I say the reports of Musharaf now prepared to end the appeasement give US a green light to go hot across the border and use his own forces as well against Aziz and the rest of the radicals in Paki proper and beyond. I was a little Leary of the validity’s of the report but hopefully.
    Woke up this morning very happy to see what looks like confirmation of at least half of that report. I hope we hit em hard when we move. The report I read said that Aziz used a type of conference call every night on schedule to update debrief the troops commanders. That to me just sounds like the perfect storm for say a NSA-B-2 combo. Such a coordinated move could have potential of taking a large section of their leadership out in one nights work.
    We sure are doing some very heavy mop up operations of recent across the board. One would almost think we are trying to secure our flanks or something.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 07/03/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Violence at the Red Mosque

    Here is video of the unrest around the mosque… Bill Roggio adds:

  • Red Mosque Maniacs Clash With Pakistani Police

    Background on the Red Mosque: For months now, students at one of Islamabad’s most radical mosques have been on a campaign to ‘Talibanise’ Pakistan – in other words, turn it into a state that enforces the strictest version of Islam…

  • Pakistani Forces Attack Mosque…

    Despite all the violence and mayhem perpetrated by followers of the Lal masjid mosque, Musharaf’s government is entertaining the idea of a ceasefire. These thugs had no problem starting a riot with hundreds injured and repeated calls for jihad and su…

  • Webloggin says:

    This Is What Happens When You Don’t Fight Back – A BDS Perspective

    Let’s start this story from reverse by looking at policy:
    President Musharraf has previously said security forces cannot raid the mosque for fear of reprisal suicide attacks.
    Now lets look at the result of that policy:
    At least nine people have b…

  • On Islam, at leas the violent bits we all know and loathe, and women

    The most recent London and Glasgow bombs, like Tel Aviv and Jurusalem bombs before them, were designed to kill women. Why that should surprise anyone is beyond me, and Michael Yon shows their behavior¬†to be as bad, no, worse,¬†in Iraq in this photo es…

  • crosspatch says:

    C-Low, I am not prepared to believe much of anything coming out of Pakistan. Even if you are on the ground there, you would be limited in scope to what you can actually see. I wouldn’t believe a word anyone told me.
    This is going to be a tough one but the Pakistani government has one small thing going for it; they can say that they initially gave the Islamists the benefit of the doubt and, if they so choose, can take the gloves off and go at them with no mercy.
    When/if this thing goes, it is going to be all in. It is going to be a very bloody one, I believe.

  • Tony says:

    “Going at them without mercy” will likely provoke a massive bloodbath because there is a very large all women’s school inside the compound.
    Kill 50 of them and the whole country lights up, guaranteed. Slaughtering large numbers of female Islamic students “without mercy” as you describe is an absolute guaranteed way to start a revolution. That just doesn’t work. Think it through.
    And if the women are slaughtered, the US will be hard pressed to shape and influence the massive bloodbath which will surely follow.

  • crosspatch says:

    Tony, I didn’t mean this specific mosque, I meant in general policy. The government has given the islamists the benefit of the doubt initially, so the government can now push with the mantra of “you had your chance and you blew it”. But yeah, any way you slice it, its going to be a bloodbath.

  • Irony all around on NPR and other news venues this morning – with rolling updates

    Jamie Gorelick, author of the most stringent of the “wall” memos, the ones that prevented intelligence sfrom sharing data with law enforcement prior to 9-11, AND one of the people who fought hardest to prevent the Clinton White House from s…

  • James says:

    I wonder why Aziz and, moreover, his entrenched gang of thugs, seem unmoved by their Prophet Muhammad’s injunction in the Quran that “cursed are those men that wear women’s clothing and those women that wear men’s clothing”

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis