Red Mosque leader Abdul Rasheed Ghazi killed during assault

Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Click to view.

Mosque compound still being cleared, over 100 reported killed

The assault by Pakistani forces on the radical Islamist mosque known as the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, has resulted in the death of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, the mosque’s leader. Ghazi was shot and killed in the basement of the Jamia Hafsa, a madrassa adjacent to the mosque, along with upwards of 100 “militants.” Last evening, it was reported Ghazi was captured. Ghazi had sworn he would not be taken alive, but would die as a martyr.

The Pakistani government confirmed Ghazi was killed in the fighting, however, his body has not been recovered. “He was spotted in the basement and asked to come out. He came out with four or five militants who kept on firing at security forces,” said Brigadier Javed Cheema, a spokesman for the Inter Services Public Relation branch. “The troops responded and in the crossfire he was killed. … There are still certain areas to be cleared. The body is in the compound. The other militants were also killed in the fighting.”

Ghazi’s wife and daughter were captured alive in the mosque, along with 27 women. At least 27 children had emerged from the fighting unharmed. Another 50 students of the mosque have been captured.

Commandos of the Special Service Group, backed by the elite 111 Brigade of the Pakistani Army, the Pakistani Rangers and the Islamabad police launched the final assault on the Red Mosque after negotiations broke down late Monday evening. Eight members of the security forces have been killed in the fighting so far, including a captain.

Security forces are said to have cleared a majority of the Red Mosque and the Jamia Hafsa madrassa. Searches are underway in the basements of the compounds for holdouts. There is no word if tunnel systems were built under the mosque.

The mosque and madrassa are said to have been heavily fortified. Pakistani security forces have encountered booby-trapped doors and windows, and have been blasting through walls to bypass the explosive traps. Bunkers were built in the backyard of the children’s library. It was thought suicide bombers were inside the mosque, however, there have been no reports of suicide attacks on government forces at this time.

The repercussions of the government storming the mosque and the death of Ghazi and the capture of Abdul Aziz, his brother and co-leader at the Lal Masjid, are unknown at this time. Ghazi and Aziz were strong supporters of the Taliban and allied Islamists movements. They had personal contact with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. The Taliban and al Qaeda launched a series of bombings inside Pakistan, including in Islamabad, this winter and spring after airstrikes on Taliban camps in the Northwest Frontier Province. Prime Minister Aziz and Interior Minister Sherpao were targets of suicide attacks; Mr. Sherpao barely escaped the assassination attempt.

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



  • Marlin says:

    The repercussions of the government storming the mosque and the death of Ghazi and the capture of Aziz are unknown at this time.
    Somewhere recently I read that the Pakistani population roughly breaks into 10% who support the military, 30% who support the Islamic ‘militants’ and 60% who support the establishment of a secular society. The 30% who support the Islamic ‘militants’ are obviously going to be upset and create more violence.
    However I suspect Syed Saleem Shahzad is quite close to the truth with the following repercussion prediction.
    It is only a matter of time before the US-led “war on terror” formally crosses the Pakistani border.
    Asia Times Online: Pakistan’s iron fist is to the US’s liking

  • GK says:

    The 70% who don’t support Islamism are a much more reliable group than, say, the equivalent in Iraq. This 70% of Pakistan is very Indian-like in culture and priorities, and will never prefer Taliban-type tule.

  • Tony says:

    I’m extremely reluctant to rely on polling data for such assertions.
    In a nation like Pakistan that has comparatively low rates of households with telephones, phone polls (which this one almost certainly is) skew results unacceptably.
    In other words, disaffected and marginalized people are less likely to have telephones and so polls conducted by telephone dramatically underreport their views.
    So to base policy decisions on such flawed data can be most unwise, bordering on the foolish.

  • crosspatch says:

    “So to base policy decisions on such flawed data can be most unwise, bordering on the foolish.”
    Agreed. For some reason we continually judge events and actions in other countries by our own cultural standards.
    The crucial test will be to see what happens with those allied with the Red Mosque crew who have threatened to unleash a campaign of terrorism should the government put down the uprising in Islamabad.
    There is another shoe yet to drop.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Their are only 2 countries in this world who were ‘established’ in the middle of the last century on the basis of religion and guess who they are. One is ISRAEL & the second one is PAKISTAN.
    So by definition their is no such thing as ‘secular’ Pakistani. Pakistan was created as a homeland for the Indian Muslim because they felt that they could not live under ‘Hindu’ domination.
    Hence by definition the founding creed is Islamic and were things went wrong is that the creators of Pakistan were not forceable enough in establishing Shariat i.e. Islamic Law as the law code for Pakistan at the begining. The founders of Pakistan hedged their bets and tried to have a foot in both camp i.e Secular law & Shariat law and quite correctly the followers of Ghazi decided that a Islamic country needs Islamic law.
    However the irony of the present situation is that in Pakistan which was created as the Fort of Islam a mosque in the capital is attacked, its imam and 50 ‘mujahideen’ killed because they dared touch some Chinese kaffir’s.

  • Thanos says:

    They did more than “touch” the Chinese nationals, and three were killed yesterday. The TNSM followers are also blockading the silk road at present, and there are riots, with foreign NGO offices burnt.
    It will be very interesting to watch the next week as there are multiple factions involved in this event, and different groups are going to spin it various ways.

  • Tony says:

    It will take more than one week to accurately assess the aftereffects of this.
    Sometimes there are long latency times associated with responses to these events; as just one example, look at the 6-month lag between the 1984 storming of the Sikh Golden Temple and the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards as a direct response to that action.

  • Neil Chapman says:

    Your thinking like a westerner. Most of these folks have cell phones and not land lines as their primary phone. It’s entirely possible/probable that these folks are polled over the cell phone and not the land lines.
    Great site and even greater insight. Thanks to all that contribute!
    Kindest Regards,
    Neil in NC

  • Tony says:

    I’m thinking as someone thoroughly familiar with the methodology of polling data and the mathematics behind same.
    According to the following figures, which are not completely current but still relevant, there are far more landlines than cell phones and there is one land line for every 148 people in Pakistan. It’s a backward country where 60% of the people are illiterate, Musharraf’s feel-good propaganda notwithstanding.
    Are you somehow claming that the percentage of persons in Federally Administered Tribal Areas with personal and direct access to telephones is equivalent to that of the capital?
    This is not rocket science.

  • Thanos says:

    Tony, I completely agree, but within the week we will be able to see the general direction.

  • anand says:

    “According to the following figures, which are not completely current”
    Telephones – 2.861 million (1 Phone for every 148 People)
    Cellular – 158,000
    Radio stations – AM 27, FM 1, Shortwave 21
    Radios – 13.5 million
    Television stations – 22
    Televisions – 3.1 million
    Internet Service Providers – 26}
    “Not completely current.”

  • VA Joe Blog says:

    Milblog Roundup

    Highlights from Milblogs Around the Net
    One soldier notices that a difference is being made in Falluja. [Badgers Forward]
    Something almost everyone can relate to: Having a bad roommate. [From my position…on the way]
    President Bush’s big an…

  • hamidreza says:

    If 30% of Pakistanis supported Ghazi and the red mosque, they would have been in the streets a week ago and would have shown their muscle. The western media generally exaggerate the role of the Muslim radical because they are so romantically enamoured with the power of Islam to move poor, uneducated and backward thinking people.
    Fact is that few pious Pakistani muslims care about these radicals who takfir the other sects, to the point that they have killed 40,000 Pakistani shiites in the past decade or so.
    Let us not romanticize these thugs, and lets see them for what they are.
    A good case in point is Moqtada Sadr that once boasted that 50% of Iraqis back him up. The western leftists, media, and post-colonialists went gaga over him, and declared him the new Che Guevara and the new Messiah.
    And today, he is reduced to a fugitive paid agent of the enemy of Iraqis. When he calls demonstrations, few people show up, or the demo is cancelled.
    The real danger in Pakistan is that the security forces (army and intelligence services) have been Islamicized, and Musharraf’s problem (and also Behnazir’s problem, even though she is too foolish to acknowledge it) is how to take these fanatic forces on.

  • Tony says:

    The most rational indicator of a country’s development is the Human Development Index, which uses factors such as life expectancy, education level, infant mortality, and standard of living. The rigourous methodology behind these rankings are explained at:
    On that list, last year Pakistan was ranked #136, below Laos and Botswana and just above Papua New Guinea and the Congo.
    That is nothing to boast about.
    You state there has been no single successful terror attack against the US since 9/11.
    I’m amazed at how this myth is propagated by the MSM and widely accepted as fact in the USA.
    For some reason unknown to me, the clear majority of Americans have somehow forgotten the anthrax terror attacks which occurred after 9/11.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The 30% number came from Strategy Page, which never sourced it. I’ve never seen anything to support this.

  • Lal Masjid Stormed

    I am rather curious why this story isn’t bigger news considering that it involves a possible mass casualty event, hundreds (or thousands) of hostages, Islamists, terrorists, jihadis, and could spawn violence throughout Pakistan. You’d think the geopo…

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 07/11/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Jim says:

    AQ just called for jihad against Pakistan.
    Good news. Pakistan likely to be more cooperative in helping US root out AQ.

  • templar knight says:

    Jim, mayhap in the short run Pakistan might be a little more coorperative, but I wouldn’t count on it. My interpretation of Zawahiri’s speech called for the focus of jihad to be in Afghanistan. Quite a wise strategy, IMO, as it will allow the Taliban and AQ to build strength in the tribal regions with little or no interference from the Pakistani government.
    If they were successful in Afghanistan, and I truly think they have a decent chance given the political situation in the US and Europe, they will have the military strength to take on the central government in Islamabad. Musharraf would not be in an enviable position.

  • crosspatch says:

    Just a note on Pakistan public communications resources. According to the Pakistan Telecom Authority in 2004 there were about 5 million cellular users. In October 2005 there were 15 million and they were expecting a minimum of 30 million by 2007. That was what they were saying in 2005. Currently as of May 2007, there are double that or nearly 61 million users according to the page at the link below:
    Pakistan should easily reach 100 million cell phones by the end of 2007.
    This bodes well for us and not so well for the Taliban as it will allow for greater access to information and communications. It prevents the people from being as easily isolated and having their view of the world managed by the mullahs.
    And if al Qaida has declared war on the government of Pakistan, they have now sown the seeds of their own destruction AND will likely need to pull global resources in to Pakistan in order to engage in that fight. If they are indeed serious about this and if it isn’t just so much hot air, then we can expect to see any resources for operations in Iraq, Thailand, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and other places being diverted back to Pakistan.

  • Doug S. says:

    From the latest story on breitbart, it seems that the outcry over the Red Mosque consists of a 500-strong protest in Peshawar and 15 MPs pouting. It hardly sounds like Pakistan is aflame over this.

    It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago, some friends of mine went to travel the Karakorum Highway as tourists. But from what they told me about Pakistan, it seems worth keeping in mind that the Pashto highlands are very different from the lowlands, where Islamabad is located. The highlands is where support for AQ and Taliban is focused, but the more numerous lowlanders have always seen them as kind of alien and crazy, which is why the central government kept paramilitary police with automatic weapons in the NWFP.

    I suspect that the lowlanders are generally less keen on Islamofascism than the highlanders, and for that reason, I think it’s premature to concede Pakistan to the enemy. I suspect that the issue is still much in doubt, and that the aftermath of the Red Mosque incident will tell much.

  • Thanos says:

    Templar — that’s a valid observation, especially considering the number of AQ arrests they’ve had at the Taftan border crossing the past weeks — my guess they are transiting from Iraq to Pakistan.
    Also, I know the visible source of trouble is the frontier provinces, but please don’t take your eyes off the Kashmir — I am beginning to think it’s the real wellspring. Note the groups involved, and this from last October.

  • Beyond The Red Mosque

    A sobering analysis from Richard Fernandez; The same people who argued Iraq was “lost” because a Saddam was toppled will now argue that Pakistan is about to be lost because we won’t help ease Musharraf out of power. Frederic Grare…

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Looking back a bit, I think the infighting among the Teliban factions this spring set them back more than we thought at the time. They lost a lot of momentum and while they have steadily gained ground they wasted a lot of chances too. Afghanistan is in a violent summer offensive but the Teliban hasn’t really penetrated to the degree some feared at the beginning of the year. The are going to be a big problem but toppling the government seems a lot less likely now.
    I think the Pakistani government has done this about as well as could be wished for. It hasn’t made any new enemies and seems to have most of the population on it’s side at least this time.
    It’s never enough to win an engagement like this. Getting the population behind you counts every bit as much.

  • Neo says:

    “toppling the government seems a lot less likely now.” (Pakistan or Afghan government, either works)

  • templar knight says:

    No, one can never dismiss the ongoing jihad in Kashmir. As a matter of fact, the jihad in Kashmir predated the crisis in the tribal regions, and likely contributed, due to its success, to the jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan conducted from inside Pakistan.
    The Taliban movement began in the tribal regions, but the influence and success of the jihad in Kashmir was a contributor to the Taliban with both personnel and training.
    I really believe that it would take a massive undertaking of the Pakistani government to root out AQ and the Taliban from the frontier, and I don’t think Musharraf is up to the task. The fact that he has made peace and given control of N. and S. Waristan to AQ leaves me pessimistic. I pray I’m wrong.


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