Assassination of Benazir Bhutto – Blowback on Democracy as an International Freedom and stimulus to Suicide Bombing Plans in other countries.
1. Blowback on Democracy and risk for UK and other parts of Europe and countries - there may be an increased risk of suicide bombings where network terrorists are stimulated by successful attack on Mrs Bhutto. Her death as an iconic democratic leader, a female and an avowed opponent of militancy may be a stimulus in many countries where networked terror growth has had links to Pakistan and this will be enhanced by Al Qaeda claims of responsibility. 2. International Challenge for political candidates and leaders to prevent crowd casualties in the Pakistan January election and other elections in countries for some years to come. 3. Further attack on Swat Valley 28 December with loss of a political candidate is an indication of serious need for new forms of democratic participation to prevent crowd casualties. 4. Electronic means with internet and mobile phone voting and candidate communications to the masses could reduce mass casualties and remove fear tactics in elections in all countries– this needs trust in processes and international supervision. In Pakistan there is very high penetration of the population with mobile phones. 5. Conflicting and ambiguous information has caused some confusion and may create a more unstable situation if rumours rather than facts are given credence. Background
1. The tragic loss of Mrs Bhutto will create some chaotic scenes and problems for democratic processes in Pakistan. The location was a political rally in a park in central Rawalpindi . 2. The attack was most likely by one person at around 1730 hours using a pistol then a body borne device with 5kg of high explosive close to the vehicle. The detonation was preceded by three shots to Mrs Bhutto from behind as she was standing exposed through the run roof of the vehicle. An initial report attributed to the attending surgeons at the hospital was that there were shots to the head and neck with severing of the spinal cord. The official report on 281207 was that Mrs Bhutto had died from a fractured skull from dropping back into the vehicle after the shots were fired and hitting her head on a lever on the sun roof and had not suffered gunshot wounds or fragmentation wounds. The location of the attack may have been outside the area in which there was close surveillance and security for the rally and the photographs show the proximity of a crowd to the vehicle. Inside the rally enclosure the crowd may have been screened and therefore trusted supporters. The vehicle was leaving the venue at the north gate and may have been static or moving very slowly. She was pronounced dead at 1816 hours in hospital after arriving with no immediate vital signs. 21 persons were killed and 100 injured. 3. The conflicting evidence is not unusual in this type of incident and the cause of death may be an accidental skull fracture experienced during an attempt by Mrs Bhutto to avoid an assassination or her movements may have been instinctive or pressure induced movements onto a projecting lever which caused the fatal injury. Although the medical evidence and the process of the attack will become clearer when more information is available and the vacuum that has been created by the delays and ambiguity in this information may lead to uncertainty and loss of confidence in government statements. There has been a tactic in suicide attacks elsewhere for the attacker to wait until after an event and to make the suicide attack when the victim approaches the bomber’s location i.e. the victim approaches the bomber. The pictures of Mrs Bhutto’s vehicle suggest fragmentation damage on the vehicle but no official report has yet been made on the details of the device.
In the last month, continuing attacks on supporters of Mrs Bhutto and Mr Sharif have indicated the significant risk in the election process. Similarly the former interior minister Mr Sherpao, suffered a serious but failed attempt in December. The first assassination attempt on Mrs Bhutto in 1993 was masterminded by Ramsi Yousef the planner of the first World Trade Centre bombing and the issue was her being a female in a political role at that time.
7. The unsuccessful assassination attack on Mrs Bhutto in October 2007 killed 143 + supporters including police guarding her and over 550 persons were wounded. Two bombers took part in this attack with explosive vests and fragmentation ball bearings. The forensics placed the suicide devices in the October attack as similar to other attacks led by pro Taliban elements with links to Al Qaeda. 8. An Al Qaeda claim to the attack was made on 28 December to a news agency citing a decision by Ayman Al-Zawahiri in October to kill her as an American asset and linking it to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) an experienced jihadi group connected with the Taliban and Al Qaeda . Baitullah Mesud, named as the group by the Pakistani Government on 281207 threatened suicide attacks against her on 4 October and has been linked to suicide attacks in Rawalpindi in the past. Solutions to the democratic process in Pakistan might (as an independent assessment of solutions) feasibly be based on telephone electronic voting if crowds and voting is to be freed of fear of bombs.
10. There may be a blowback into the UK and other countries where Al Qaeda networks linked to Pakistan may be stimulated by the success of the attack on Mrs Bhutto and this may bring forward attacks that are in the planning stage. 11. There have been very serious attacks on symbols of national security including Special Forces, army and locations such as the Red Mosque and disturbances across many parts of Pakistan which have indicated an organised and committed attempt to destabilise the government that has been claimed by AlZawahiri on behalf of Al Qaeda. 12. It is to be noted that the Pakistan Government initiated changed security measures on rallies after the October attack on Mrs Bhutto, with scanning for metal for entry into enclosed locations and permission only rallies and refusal of road rallies. Despite this, the location of the attack possibly outside the security zone points to the capability of suicide bombers to penetrate strong security - as they have done also in attacking Special Forces targets. 13. This raises the issue of whether democracy itself is now under attack and whether serious solutions internationally have to be considered to ensure people and voting may continue by removing crowd events and instituting electronic voting. A balance to the influence of these attacks by removing the threat of suicide bombing from crowds in election processes is urgently needed if elections are to remain free of undue persuasion or interference from Al Qaeda inspired groups.
Dr SALLY LEIVESLEY PhD Lond.,MSPD, BA(Hons) Qld., FICDDS,FRSA,MACE firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Line 24 Hour +44 (0) 20 8660 3873 Mobile+ 44 (0) 79749 16470