Warrants for Baitullah, four others issued

March 11, 2008

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RAWALPINDI, March 10: An anti-terrorism court issued here on Monday non-bailable arrest warrants for Baithullah Mehsud, the self-styled leader of the militant Taliban Movement, and his four associates for their alleged involvement in the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

The warrants were issued in the name of Mehsud and Ikramullah, the second would-be suicide bomber on Dec 27 last year, both belonging to South Waziristan, Abadur Rehman, Abdullah alias Saddam of Mohmand Agency and Faiz Muhammad alias Kaskat of Swabi, who belongs to the Madressah Haqqania in Akora Khattak.

According to police report, Aitzaz and Sher Zaman, who were arrested from Dera Ismail Khan, had accused Baitullah and his companions of having planned the PPP leader’s assassination. In his confession, Aitzaz Shah later identified one of the voices on a telephone conversation intercepted by the interior ministry as that of Baitullah Mehsud.

Rafaqat and Hasnain Gul alias Ali had named Nadir Khan alias Qari Ismail of Swabi, Narullah alias Ahmed of Waziristan and four other wanted men as their accomplices.

The accused had identified Saeed alias Bilal of South Waziristan as the suicide bomber in the Dec 27 attack. Some of his personal effects were found in Hasnain Gul’s house in Rawalpindi.

According to police, Nadir and Nasrullah had been killed by Mohmand Rifles on Jan 15.

Establishing Baitullah’s link with Ms Bhutto’s assassination, the investigators said that Rasheed Ahmed, the fifth man arrested in the case, had also accused Baitullah and others of being involved in the Dec 27 attack. According to Rasheed, Baitullah Mehsud had provided suicide vests and Rs400,000 to Nadir, Nasrullah and Abdullah to kill the PPP leader.

Meanwhile, copies of indictments in four suicide attack cases –near the Qasim Market, near the GHQ in RA Bazaar on Sept 4, 2007, near the Army House at a police picket on Oct 30, 2007 and near the Liaqat Bagh on Dec 27 last year – were distributed among the accused. The hearing was deferred till March 18.

Hasnain Gul and Muhammad Rafaqat are accused in all four cases because police said they had known who would carry out the suicide attacks. Three other men, Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman and Abdul Rasheed, were arrested for withholding information about the plan to mount a suicide attack against Ms Bhutto.

A case was registered against Hasnain and Rafaqat in the Westridge police station on Feb 7 and both men are being tried on charges of carrying illegal explosives, weapons and suicide vests.

They were arrested from Misrial Road while carrying explosives in a taxi owned by Rafaqat.