Assassination attempt against Pakistan’s President

The latest attempt in a string of attacks against Pakistani government officials

Pakistani security officials examine a long barreled anti-aircraft gun and a light machine gun, found on the rooftop of a house in Rawalpindi [AP Photo]. Click to view.

As the Lal Masjid standoff nears the end of its fourth day, a report surfaced of an assassination attempt against President Pervez Musharraf. An anonymous intelligence officer told Pakistani television that “there was an attempt, that was missed,” against President Musharraf’s airplane as it took off from the military airport in Rawalpindi. Some reports indicate the plane was fired on with anti-aircraft guns, while others said a missile was fired. An anonymous American military intelligence told The Long War Journal that the attack did indeed occur, and that “it came very, very close to taking him out.”

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) denied an attack took place and reported President Musharraf is safe in Baluchistan. But the ISPR spokesman conceded Pakistani commandos seized two anti-aircraft guns and a light machine gun on the roof of a home directly in the flight path of the Rawalpindi military airfield. Ammunition was also found at the home.

Al Qaeda and other allied Pakistani jihadi groups have conducted several assassination attempts against President Musharraf over the past several years. There were three attempts to killed President Musharraf over the course of 2002, and two attempts within 14 days in December 2003.

The 2003 attacks, both which occurred in Rawalpindi, were sophisticated. The first attack, on December 14, was designed to blow up a bridge as Musharraf’s convoy crossed it. The attack was foiled by a jamming device. The second attack consisted of two suicide car bombers directed at his convoy. Al Qaeda operative Amjad Farooqi carried out the 2003 attacks along with former al Qaeda in Pakistan leader Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who is now in U.S. custody. Farooqi, who was involved in the murder and beheading of Daniel Pearl and sheltered 9-11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was killed by Pakistani security forces during a raid in 2004.

The Taliban and al Qaeda have attempted to assassinate other senior Pakistani officials over the past several years. In February 2007, a suicide bomber attempted to kill Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the Islamabad airport. The suicide bomber was stopped in a parking garage before he could reach his target.

In April 2007, the Taliban targeted Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao with a suicide strike while he was addressing his political party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao Group), in the settled district of Charsadda in Northwest Frontier Province. Abdullah Mehsud, a powerful Taliban commander based out of South Waziristan, was behind the attack. Abdullah Mehsud is a member of the same tribe as Baitullah Mehsud, another senior Taliban tribal leader in South Waziristan. Baitullah Meshud conducted a suicide and bombing campaign against the Pakistani government in the late winter and spring of 2007.

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



  • Raj Kumar says:

    This is looking more and more like a stage play. Something which I have been saying from the start.
    Please see the link below
    I also post the relevant bit which talks about the Mullah meeting his ISI handlers time and time again.
    ATol: Maulana Abdul Aziz has been arrested. Many people believe the way in which he was arrested does not match the actions of a person who preaches to others to sacrifice their lives for the cause.
    Aziz: This is all government propaganda. The night Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested and brought to [state-run television] PTV, I had just finished a talk show and was on the way out with Ejazul Haq [minister for religious affairs] and the anchor of the program. I saw Maulana Aziz along with security officials. He hugged me, but only touched fingers when Ejaz tried to shake hands with him.
    He immediately told me that he had been deceived. He said he was called by a senior official of an intelligence agency with whom he had been in touch for a long time. Since the official could not enter the mosque to meet him [to save his cover and identity] he asked Maulana Aziz to come to Aabpara police station [in walking distance of the mosque] and asked him to dress in a burqa to avoid being identified. [Aziz admitted that he and his brother Ghazi had done this many times before when they were declared wanted by the government]. But as soon as Maulana Aziz left the mosque he was arrested.

  • 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…

  • Neo-andertal says:

    With regard to the capture of Maulana Abdul Aziz.
    I’m quite sure that Maulana Aziz’s allies will try to push some sort of double cross story to maintain support for the cause. I’m also sure it will suffice for many of his supporters regardless of truth. Those who oppose Maulana Aziz and his cause appear to be rallying around the circumstances of his capture. Those who oppose are badly in need of a rallying point. To them it is the ideal vehicle to discredit Maulana Aziz and his cause. It does appear that there is a good deal of theater behind reality here on both sides. Than again, the reality behind the theater can be just as deadly.
    I have to agree all the political in-plotting behind this one is almost operatic. Lets hope all the theater doesn’t turn out like ‘Pagliacci’ at the end though.


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