Islamabad, Dec 28: Terrorist organisation al Qaeda has claimed that they killed former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto on Thursday because she was close to the US and had vowed to finish mujahideens.
The source of the claim was apparently a small Italian news agency, Adnkronos International (AKI), which said that al Qaeda Afghanistan commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid had telephoned the agency and made the claim. "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen," the news agency quoted Al-Yazid, as saying. According to AKI, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri set the wheels in motion for Bhutto"s assassination in October.
One Islamist website repeated the claim, but security experts did not consider the website a reliable source for Islamist messages. 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.
Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally on Thursday in the garrison town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off. She had come to Rawalpindi after finishing a rapid election campaign, ahead of the January polls, in Pakistan's volatile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where she had talked about a war against terrorism and al-Qaeda.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had issued a bulletin on Thursday citing an alleged claim of responsibility by al Qaeda for killing Bhutto, a DHS official said.
The DHS official said it was "an unconfirmed open source claim of responsibility" and the bulletin was sent out at about 6 p.m. to state and local law enforcement agencies, the CNN reported.
The official characterized the bulletin as "information sharing." Ross Feinstein, spokesman for Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, said the U.S. intelligence community is monitoring the situation and trying to figure out who is responsible for the assassination.
"We are not in a position to confirm who may be responsible," Feinstein said.