COVER STORY: PAKISTAN
Where the Jihad Lives Now
Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation.
Newsweek; October 29, 2007
Benazir Bhutto was worried she would not survive the day. It was, for her, to be a moment of joyous return after eight years of exile, but also an hour of great peril. Just before she left Dubai for Pakistan on Thursday, Oct. 18, Bhutto directed that a letter be hand-delivered to Pervez Musharraf, the embattled Pakistani autocrat with whom she had negotiated a tenuous political alliance. If anything happens to me, please investigate the following individuals in your government, she wrote, according to an account given to NEWSWEEK by her husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, then proceeded to name several senior security officials she considered to be enemies, Zardari said. Principal among those she identified, according to another supporter who works for her Pakistan People's Party, was Ejaz Shah, the head of Pakistan's shadowy Intelligence Bureau, which runs domestic surveillance in somewhat the way M.I.5 does in Britain. Shah, a longtime associate of Musharraf's, is believed by Bhutto supporters to have Islamist sympathies. And Bhutto had boldly challenged Pakistan's Muslim extremists, declaring before her arrival that "the terrorists are trying to take over my country, and we have to stop them."
Bhutto was certainly prescient about the threat. On Thursday, as her motorcade inched along a parade route guarded by roughly 20,000 Pakistani security forces, one or more suicide bombers set off twin explosions that killed at least 134 bystanders and police, and injured 450 others. The bombs narrowly missed Bhutto, who had ducked into her armored truck minutes before. Shaken but uninjured, she was rushed to safety. Musharraf's government quickly fingered Baitullah Mehsud, a longtime Taliban supporter and director of some of the most lethal training facilities for suicide bombers in the far-off mountains of Waziristan. Mehsud had reportedly threatened Bhutto. She and her husband, however, pointed much closer to home. "We do not buy that it was Mehsud," Zardari told NEWSWEEK. There was no immediate evidence that Shah was connected to the bombing. At a news conference the next day, though, Bhutto noted that the streetlights had mysteriously been turned off on her parade route and said: "I am not accusing the government. I am accusing people, certain individuals who abuse their positions. Who abuse their powers."
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