Al Qeada and Taliban Named in Bhutto Hit

Officials in Pakistan say Al Qaeda planned the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which was carried out by the Taliban.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Taliban Fighters
Taliban Fighters

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malek revealed Wednesday that investigators have traced all the people behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Malek and public prosecutor Khalid Quraishi detailed the plot to assassinate the former prime minister for lawmakers, which they said was the work of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Abu Ubaida Al Misri of Al Qaeda hatched the conspiracy and Baitullah Mehsud got the plot executed through Haqqani network," Malek said.

Both Al Misri and Mehsud were killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan's South Waziristan region that borders Afghanistan. The Haqqani network is the most active terrorist insurgent group in Afghanistan.

Among the accused, five were arrested, three fled Pakistan, and six killed were during raids by the security forces in Waziristan or drone attacks.

Malek also noted the assassins stayed at a seminary run by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, the chief of the recently formed Defense of Pakistan Council.

"I am not accusing the Maulana, but five militants stayed at the seminary and finalized the [Bhutto] murder plan," Malek said.

During his briefing, Malek said that among the people accused in the assassination of Bhutto are former military dictator and president Pervez Musharraf, and two senior police officers.

Musharraf, who went into self-exile in Britian in 2008, is primarily accused of neglecting Bhutto's security. The current government is run by Musharraf's political rivals, and the president is Bhutto's widower.

Malek vowed to bring Musharraf back to Pakistan to face charges with the help of Interpol, though it is not clear how the agency would respond if Pakistan chooses to issue a warrant.

Musharraf has announced he plans to participate in hotly contested elections later this year and is expected to return to Pakistan of his own accord.

He denies all culpability for the slaying and accuses Pakistan's government of "playing politics" with the case to ruin his re-election bid.

"This is all politics," he told ARY television station yesterday. "It's just point scoring and nothing else."