Mustafa Abu al Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, in a propaganda video in May 2007.
Al Qaeda’s central command is taking credit for today’s successful assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A senior al Qaeda military leader in Afghanistan has contacted Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist for the Asia Times and Adnkronos International with close connections to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and bragged about killing Bhutto.
“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Mustafa Abu al Yazid, al Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, told Mr. Shahzad. The attack was reportedly ordered at the highest levels of al Qaeda.
“It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October,” Mr. Shahzad also reported. “Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto.”
Mustafa Abu al Yazid has long been the leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. In May, Yazid was officially appointed al Qaeda’s military commander in Afghanistan.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangavi and other indigenous Pakistani terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammned and Lashkar-e-Taiba (which is now Jamaatud Dawa) essentially serve as muscle for al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Based on the sophistication of the Bhutto assassination, al Qaeda and the Taliban were very likely assisted by infiltrators and sympathizers in the Pakistani military and Inter Services Intelligence agency.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.