BREAKING: Benazir Bhutto Assassinated by Al Qaeda

zawahiri-dajjal.jpgbenazir-bhuttoii.jpgUnconfirmed Confirmed reports are coming out of Pakistan that Benazir Bhutto has been slain in the latest suicide bombing attempt against her. This comes 12 days prior to elections in Pakistan, and it’s unknown at this time who PPP will rally behind, if anyone. I will be following this through the day. More to come.

Getty Images photos from the scene.

  • Flights Canceled
  • SSG (Special Forces) Scrambled to all cities in the wake of spreading riots
  • Elections Postponed

My prediction: Re-institution of emergency rule. 

More at Little Green Footballs

Eulogy for Benazir from Mark Steyn, her one-time neighbor

Update: Cars being burned by Bhutto supporters in Rawalpindi and Karachi, Train set on fire, minor shutterdown in Multan.

UPDATE: PML-N Nawaz Sharif will boycott the elections. In a live NDTV interview he vacillated on whether he would sit down with PPP and’/or Musharraf to work things out. He also implied that the “policies of Musharraf” were at fault, rather than Al Qaeda, who has already claimed credit for the assassination.

More on this at the Drudge Report

 Live NDTV video coverage streaming link.

From BBC:

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack, a military spokesman has announced on TV.

Earlier reports said Ms Bhutto had only been injured and taken to hospital.

Ms Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.

At least 15 other people are reported killed in the attack and several more were injured. Ms Bhutto had twice been the country’s prime minister

More from Metroblogging Islamabad

OPINON:

My quick and thoroughly unsubstantiated analysis: Al Qaeda has refocused most effort on this country since June or prior – this is an attempt to ignite civil war in Pakistan. It’s something that can be pointed at Musharraf, and many others with false-flag signs; I would wager that Baitullah Mehsud or Zawahiri are behind this however. Just as the sectarian violence has been re-ignited in Parachinar, and the steady campaign in the frontiers shows the goals. AQ has failed in Iraq, and they have failed in Afghanistan, so they seek a home in Pakistan. Let us hope that cool heads prevail, but that’s not likely in Pakistan.

More unsubstantiated analysis – PML-N & PPP activists are painting this as a Musharraf action too quickly — now that AQ publicly declared credit that might backfire. In the past six attempts have been made against Musharraf, and two against Sherpao. I haven’t heard the stance of the two MMA parties yet.

With elections postponed, the Islamists have achieved their initial aim.

The purpose of the assassination was to invalidate the coming elections, and by boycott Nawaz Sharif is choosing sides with those who do not want democracy.

With SSG deploying around the country I expect we will see a large-scale round up, and if calm does not come soon we will see emergency rule.

End of Opinion

UPDATE: Reports now have Al Qaeda Claiming credit for the Assassination.

Karachi, 27 Dec. (AKI) – (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) – A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.

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.

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.

More at The Long War Journal

More at Jammiewearing Fool

More at Lawhawk’s

More from Bloomberg:

Bhutto attributed her interest in politics to the assassination of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister overthrown by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq in a 1977 military coup.

Zia ul-Haq went on to become president in 1978. The elder Bhutto, founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party, was hanged in 1979 after his conviction on charges of authorizing the murder of an opponent. Both Bhutto’s brothers were also murdered.

`It Chose Me’

“I didn’t choose this life, it chose me,” Bhutto wrote in the preface to the second edition of her autobiography, Daughter of the East, in April 2007. “Born in Pakistan, my life mirrors its turbulence, its tragedies and its triumphs. Pakistan is no ordinary country. And mine has been no ordinary life.”

Bhutto was imprisoned for five years, mostly in solitary confinement, just before her father’s execution. She later lived in London, returning to Pakistan in 1986. She was married to a man from a land-owning family of agriculturists in 1987.

“An arranged marriage was the price in personal choice I had to pay for the political path my life had taken,” she wrote in her autobiography. “My own parents had married for love and I had grown up believing the day would come when I would fall in love and marry a man of my own choosing.”

Zia ul-Haq’s dictatorship ended when he was killed in a plane crash in 1988. Bhutto then became the first elected woman prime minister of an Islamic nation. Her government was dismissed in 1990. She won a second term in 1993 and was dismissed once again on charges of corruption in 1996.

Ron Paul: the Polypundit Populist

[Editor update: When I wrote this I used the word “Polypundit” in the sense that there are multiple conspiracy pundits supporting Ron Paul. I was unaware that there is a blog out there called Polipundit – that blog is not related to this article, and I am not implying that they are Ron Paul supporters.] 

Ron Paul is running a campaign of “the way things ought to be” — with little reference to political reality. Vague policy papers and appeals to yesteryear, conspiracy theory, tradition, culture, and nostalgia attract a many-faceted crowd of followers, each of whom sees Ron as the saviour for their single issue.

He throws the right code words into most speeches to gather that fringe — military industrial complex, big corporations, corporatism, constitutionalism, trade-protectionism, gold standard, big government, anti-war, blowback etc. etc. It all sounds fine on the surface, but he’s trolling at the wrong depth by the manner and order in which he presents the ideas and the words he chooses.

These single-issue fringe groups each see what they want to with this posturing, but when you place all of them into the mosh-pit arena of political reality they collide and crush each other. His populist campaign has acquired a rich field of kook-pundits and their flocks to pimp for him however, and it’s time to question how this populist movement of marginalized splinter groups would work.

Some of that is evident in how his grassroots campaign is careening out of his control. At the same time Ron Paul was disavowing white nationalism Don Black and other members of Stormfront were registered in Ron Paul forums and posting there.

Don had six posts, five of which got removed because they were of the “we aren’t racists, we are racialists and not so bad” variety of persuasion. The one Don Black post left up at the forums is the one that discredits Bill White who “outed” Ron Paul’s alleged meetings with white nationalist groups. Bill White is a “fringe of the fringe” character, actually in the American Nazi party, and someone whose veracity has been questioned.

[editor: I’m not linking to Stormfront, they are easy enough to find, their forums are public and you can find a lot support for Ron Paul there in fresh posts daily. The large white nationalist sites have also run campaign ads for Ron Paul since October or prior until just recently. I found these side and header ads prominently displayed while researching European White Nationlist groups tied to Stormfront.]

Regardless, Don Black and other Stormfront people are involved. At the Stormfront site you can also find the old instructions from August on how to get to the Ames straw poll and how to register. Even with the multi-state “storming of the Ames Straw Poll,” Ron Paul still finished a disappointing fifth, with Romney and Huckabee the leaders.

Does this make Ron Paul personally a racist? No, I don’t think so. Does it make him a politician willing to pander to that fringe for support? Yes, as evidenced by his speaking engagements at the Robert Taft club and refusal to return their donations. Note the plural there, it’s not just Don Black’s $500.00 I am talking about, it’s also the money raised from the banner ads for Ron Paul at Stormfront and VNN.

 He also has clear associations with 9/11 truthers, as well as support from them, and his “blowback theory” caters to that crowd. This even though the original 9/11 truther, Hamid Gul, is a foreign politico allied with the MMA, Bin Laden, and theTaliban. Hamid came out three days after 9/11 and laid the whole plot out to cover for the Pakistan ISI and Bin Laden. Here’s the interview. [Sorry to link to the fever swamp at Fisk’s site, but this is the verbatim UPI interview that begat the “Troofers.”]

How much of the money-bomb’s content came from these groups? Probably something we will never know since it would take a couple months of combing the reports that come out in January for the details — and by time that research was done Ron Paul probably won’t be in the running anymore.

One of Ron Paul’s supporters is Alex Jones, pimp for every whack-job conspiracy theory out there, from the Bilderbergers, to the Illuminati, to 9/11 Truthers. Leftover survivalists from the 80’s pant after his every word on his radio show, and the gold currency standard theorists are there as well.

Everything that happens is controlled by some super-secret group in Alex’s miscreant brain. He calls himself the “grandfather of the 9/11 truth movement”, however as you can see above we know where the theory originated.  [Editor: I won’t link to Alex Jones sites any sooner than Stormfront; both are houses of fear and hate where the stench of madness flies up the flue.]

So at some point you have to ask what unites Ron Paul supporters besides gullibility? If he somehow made it into the top tier of candidates, how would the Prison Planet folks get along with the VNN folks? What about the Tea-cup racialists at Storm front and the Troofers?

His campaign carried much further will self-destruct, but from that destructive self implosion will come tanker farms of bile and political ill-will. The debate will be poisoned by his disillusioned followers, so please be prepared to wade through a lot of bile, piss, and vinegar before we get to the main campaign. With net anonymity the mob of commentors that follow these conspiracy theories  are more vocal, and like a mob they will attack anything or anyone that differs with them.

Just remember to step back and look at the bigger picture when that comes — the President is somewhat powerless to change 90% of what Ron Paul says he is campaigning for. It’s Congress that makes the law, the executive branch just follows them, and congress holds the power to change the things he says he is worried about. If he’s so darned fired up about changing things, then why is he wanting to leave Congress? Maybe it’s like his earmarks, he voted for them before he voted against them.

UPDATE: There’s a must-see video at Politcal Party poop.com

Christmas Moon

christmas-moon.jpgSanta brought me a new tripod, so I had to try it out with a few long exposure long distance shots.

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mars-christmas-night.jpg And here’s Mars with some faint stars in the background. You can tell I don’t have an equatorial mount and that this is a very long exposure from the track.

Merry Christmas!

This is beautiful and you must watch it !


Carol of the Bells – Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

Lumps of Coal for Congress

After a year of spending their time on non-essential business Congress actually did some real work yesterday, but there is much they left town without doing. What earmarks are in these? What waste? Who knows?

Congress is much more responsible than the president is for the domestic direction of this country – for all the pandering of the current crop of presidential candidates, they really can’t do much for or against change without good legislation from congress, which is about as likely as Polar bears greeting the dawn in Antarctica.

By dumping this all the day before Christmas they have guaranteed there will be only light review if any. From PR Newswire:

In a late-year flurry, Congress passed many bills last week. Among others, Congress passed an all-in-one spending bill. It combined eleven spending bills and additional spending for the Iraq war into one.

H.R. 2764, now called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, is the bill. Its cost per U.S. family is a little over $9,400, about $720 of which is for the additional military spending.

H.R. 2764

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008

Costs $9,439.54 per family

What People Think: 28% For, 72% Against

http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/110_HR_2764.html

Congress also passed “AMT reform.” The Alternative Minimum Tax originally affected only the very rich, but it was beginning to threaten middle class taxpayers.

The article goes on to cover the other bills they passed beyond the omnibus one above, it was a flurry of sloppy crammed legislation without precedent.

One More Gift

christmas-gifts.jpgOnce more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our shopping dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of carols blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.

Rudy’s New Campaign Commercial

Rudy Guiliani has a new advertisement out, and I’m curious about your reaction to the ad — not about who you are voting for, what candidate you like or dislike, or which policy of Rudy’s that you hate or love. Instead, tell me what you think of the ad, is it effective, does it fall flat, does it inspire, or does it sound old-hat?
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Terminus Est 12/21

dark-and-light.jpgIn the far North Solstice has a bit more meaning; it is the divisor, boundary, or terminus between heat, light, and life as opposed to cold, dark, and death.

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terminus :
      n 1: a place where something ends or is complete [syn: end point
           , endpoint, termination, terminus]
      2: the ultimate goal for which something is done [syn:
         destination, terminus]
      3: (architecture) a statue or a human bust or an animal carved
         out of the top of a square pillar; originally used as a
         boundary marker in ancient Rome [syn: terminus, terminal   figure
         , term]
      4: either end of a railroad or bus route
      5: station where transport vehicles load or unload passengers or
         goods [syn: terminal, terminus, depot]

terminus – Thesaurus:
  
     anchorage, apodosis, border line, bound, boundary,
     boundary condition, boundary line, bourn, branch, break boundary,
     breakoff point, catastrophe, cease, ceasing,
     ceiling, cessation, circumscription, close, coda, 
     conclusion, confine, consummation,
     crack of doom, culmination, curtain, curtains, cutoff,
     cutoff point, deadline, death, decease, delimitation, denouement,
     desistance, destination, destiny, determinant, division line, doom,
     effect, end, end point, ending, envoi, epilogue, eschatology,
     expiration, extremity, fate, final solution,
     final twitch, final words, finale, finality, finis, finish,
     finishing, floor, frontier, full development, goal,
     haven, hedge, high-water mark, junction, last, last breath,
     last gasp, last stop, last things, last trumpet, last words,
     latter end, light railroad, limen, limit, limitation,
     limiting factor, line, line of demarcation, low-water mark,
     lower limit, main line, march, mark, maturation, maturity, mete,
     metro, monorail, omega, payoff, perfection, period, peroration,
     port, quietus, rack railway, rack-and-pinion railway, rail,
     rail line, railroad, railway, resolution, resting place, ripeness,
     roadbed, roadway, rounding off, rounding out, sidetrack, siding,
     start, starting line, starting point, stop, stoppage,
     stopping place, swan song,  switchback, target date,
terminal, terminal date, terminal point, termination, threshold.

Belgium Releases? 14 AQ Terrorists

nizar-trabelsi.jpgIn great work from police in Belgium, 14 Al Qaeda aligned terrorists were arrested in a plot to free imprisoned terrorists from a jail there. From My Way:

 BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Fourteen Muslim extremists were detained Friday on allegations they sought to free an al-Qaida sympathizer imprisoned for planning a terrorist attack on U.S. air base personnel, Belgian authorities said. Security was heightened across the capital, at airports and subway stations out of precaution, officials said. “Other acts of violence are not to be excluded,” Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said. He said authorities had “elements of information which point to the preparation of an attack.”

Lieve Pellens, spokeswoman of the federal prosecutor’s office, said security also was being stepped up at Christmas markets.

“Since it could not be excluded that the group had other plans and because of the heightened terror threat this time of year, it was decided no risk should be taken,” Pellens said.

The suspects sought to free Nizar Trabelsi, a 37-year-old Tunisian who played soccer for several German teams and who was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison four years ago, authorities said.

He had admitted planning to drive a car bomb into the canteen at Kleine Brogel, a Belgian air base where about 100 American military personnel are stationed and where U.S. nuclear weapons are believed to be stored.

Trabelsi testified that he intended kill American soldiers.

UPDATE: It appears authorities found nothing….. they are now all released. More at Little Green Footballs on the Belgian catch and release program.

Hats off to the authorities in Brussells for a job well done!

Second Failed Suicide Attack on Aftab Sherpao

charsadda-mosque-bombing.jpgaftabsherpao.jpgAl Qaeda has murdered 41 more Muslims in a failed attack on former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao. This is their second failed attempt, last April they murdered 25 Muslims and injured his son in a failed attack on him, this time Sherpao is uninjured but his son was hurt again. The attack took place inside the Mosque in Sherpao’s home town of Charsadda. More from Reuters:

CHARSADDA, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed at least 41 people in a mosque in northwest Pakistan on Friday where a former interior minister was offering Muslim Eid festival prayers with worshippers, officials said.

Intelligence officials said as many as 50 people may have died when the attacker detonated explosives inside the mosque but the number could not be immediately confirmed by police.

The former minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, survived unhurt but at least 61 people were wounded in the blast. Ten of the wounded were in a critical condition, Federal Secretary of Interior Syed Kamal Shah told Reuters.

Previous articles:

Taliban Attacks Minister; Warnings to Sherpao

Suicide Attack Injures Sherpao and Son, Kills 25 

PREVIOUS ATTEMPT:
AP and CNN are reporting a Suicide Bomber attack on the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Aftab Khan Sherpao. Sherpao is one of the most visible and popular leaders in the NWFP, and although he sits on the opposition bench, he’s been very supportive of Musharaaf’s moves in the region. Sherpao has also long been seen by some as a possible successor to Musharaaf if the PML ever got pushed aside by the PPP (it’s unlikely that Benazir Bhutto could ever return and hold office except by proxy due to the widely unpopular corruption of her tenure.)

From CNN:

A suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a public meeting in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and wounding the country’s interior minister, police said.

Security guards blocked the attacker as he tried to get close to Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao after he had finished his speech at the meeting in Charsadda, an intelligence official said. The attacker detonated the bomb moments later.

Mohammed Khan, a police official, said the minister suffered minor injuries and was in stable condition. He was being shifted to a hospital in the nearby city of Peshawar.

Khan said at least 24 people were wounded, at least 10 critically.

Khan said the son of Sherpao, Sikandar Khan Sherpao, and some lawmakers and security officials were among the injured.

The intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job, said investigators had found the head of the suicide bomber. He had no details on the attacker’s identity. 

Things are heating up in Waziristan, and it’s possible this could be a retaliation strike. Please stop by The Fourth Rail to see what might be driving the retaliation.

More on the the Sherpao family’s rise to political power in Pakistan here and here.

Update: The death toll has now risen to 25 28 31 and newer reports state that the suicide bomber was Afghani. In the Daily Times a former Intelligence Bureau employee states the raids are “retaliatory”. While both statements could be agitprop, they have the feel of truth to me. 

More and more refugees who have been taken in the past few years are being pushed out of Pakistan, and some are losing property, wealth and positions in the process. There’s bound to be some pushback, however if Pakistan wants a reasonable future it can’t continue to host refugees who have no good reason not to return to their native lands.

The other thing in the background are the old-guard ISI who use these disaffected refugees as tools by paying the mullahs bribes. Whenever something like this occurs it’s an almost automatic that if you dig deep enough you will find some connection to Hamid Gul — I have not seen one here yet, but certainly would not be surprised if I did.

From Daily Times:

Former Intelligence Bureau chief Massod Sharif while talking to a private TV channel on Saturday said suicide blasts in Pakistan were the reaction to military action in the tribal areas of the NWFP. This is the internal reactionary force resorting to suicide attacks to register their protests against incidents like the bombing of Bajaur madrassa and military action in Waziristan, Sharif said in Geo television’s programme “Meray Mutabiq.” Muttahida Qaumi Movement Convener Dr Imran Farooq condemned the blast saying the moment had come for all the people against religious extremism to join hands and make a joint strategy to counter terrorism and religious extremism. Awami National Party head Asfand Yar Wali said if the present situation continued the future of Pakistan was in danger. He said the security situation in NWFP was alarming. Suicide bombers register and ensure their presence by killing innocent people whenever they want and if the country’s interior minister is in danger, then the people have much to fear, said Geo television’s senior analyst Dr Shahid Masood while commenting on the Charsadda blast. He said the suicide bombers were reminding the government that they were still strong and could hit anyone. He suspected that in the present situation it would become very difficult for Aftab Sherpao, Asfand Yar Wali and all the liberal forces in NWFP to continue their politics in the province.

Yet another possible motive is speculated on in the Editorial section Daily Times. This one is as possible as the others, even if this isn’t the motive, the editorial is an interesting read that I recommend.

One last note : As of now Pakistanis in general are pretty mad about this, now that the crows are roosting in their faces they are angry.