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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ISLAMABAD2352
2008-07-10 11:11:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

BOMBING MARKS RED MOSQUE OPERATION ANNIVERSARY

Tags:   PGOV  PK  PREL  PTER 
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FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
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RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 5743
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RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4134
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 002352 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2018
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL PTER
SUBJECT: BOMBING MARKS RED MOSQUE OPERATION ANNIVERSARY

Classified By: Ambassador Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b), (d).



1. (C) Summary: The latest suicide bombing on the one-year
anniversary of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) military operation
in Islamabad demonstrates just how potent a symbol the mosque
remains in the militants' battle with the Pakistani
government. We believe the bombing was more a demonstration
of still smoldering anger over the military operation than it
was a signal of a renewed suicide bombing campaign against
Pakistan. Along with the collapse of the Waziristan
agreement in 2007, the storming of the Red Mosque sparked a
bloody year in which over 600 Pakistanis were killed in
suicide bombings. The Army and the new government's efforts
to negotiate peace deals with militants and tribal leaders
largely has been a reaction to this violence and an attempt
to redirect militant anger it cannot contain away from
Pakistan. End Summary.

Police Targeted


--------------------------





2. (U) A suicide bomber targeted security forces following
a rally to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Lal
Masjid (Red Mosque) operation in Islamabad. The bomber
specifically attacked a police contingent several hundred
meters from the mosque, killing at least 19 people, including
14 police officers and injuring more than 50 people. Press
reports quoted an explosives expert who assessed the
locally-made bomb contained upwards of 17 pounds of
explosives. The bombing mirrors a similar attack against
police in the same area on July 27, 2007. The attacker
executed the bombing outside the heightened security corridor
arranged in anticipation of the rally. A police force ranging
from 3,000-4,000, some from neighboring regions, provided
security.



3. (C) The GOP made a conscious decision to allow the rally
to go forward; unlike the peaceful lawyers' Long March
protest, however, this one turned violent. The Ministry of
Interior (MOI) has been widely criticized for its naivet in
believing it could control what was predictably going to be a
problematic event. MOI is offering a 5 million rupee reward
(USD 71,000) for information relating to the bomber. It has
also announced a new policy of restricting demonstrations to
certain pre-approved sites in Islamabad.

Threats of Anti-U.S./Musharraf Jihad


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Students attending the Red Mosque rally wore red
prayer caps in memory of deputy cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi,
who died in the raid. Rally speakers called for jihad
against the U.S. and demanded that the Jamia Hafsa girls'
Madrassah be rebuilt. A senior police official on July 7
asserted Umm Hassan, wife of Abdul Aziz and head of the
demolished Jamia Hafsa, was preparing suicide bombers to
attack President Musharraf. According to press reports, many
in attendance called for the government to release Ghazi's
brother and chief cleric Abdul Aziz, who security forces
arrested when he fled the mosque disguised as a woman in a
burqah. The Supreme Court has granted Aziz bail in all but
one terrorist-related charge; on July 7, Aziz's lawyer
petitioned the Court for bail on the remaining charge.



5. (C) Comment: Along with the collapse of the Waziristan
peace agreements in 2007, the Red Mosque operation sparked an
unprecedented spate of suicide attacks by militants,
primarily against Pakistani security targets. The operation
and its aftermath demonstrated for the first time how Islamic
militancy had spread beyond the tribal areas into Pakistan
proper. In a television address, President Musharraf flatly
stated that Pakistan was now at war with the militants; the
militants then displayed their power to respond. Since July
2007, approximately 600 persons have died in more than 70
suicide bombings in Pakistan. Efforts by the Army and the
new government to renew discussions with militants and tribal
leaders largely stems from the desire to again redirect
militant operations away from Pakistan.



6. (C) Comment Continued: Last year's military operation
continues to provoke debate. Liberals initially complained

ISLAMABAD 00002352 002 OF 002


that Musharraf waited too long to oust militants from the
heart of the capital; after the operation, they complained it
had been too violent and questioned why it took 8 days for
the military to complete its action. Families of those
killed during the operation continue to believe there was a
government cover up and that many thousands remain
unaccounted for in unmarked graves. The GOP never fully
responded to a Supreme Court demand to investigate the
incident. During the political campaign, Pakistan Muslim
League-N leader Nawaz Sharif repeatedly used the Red Mosque
operation as an example of the anti-Islamic nature of the
Musharraf regime. By itself, this latest bombing probably
reflects the still smoldering anger over the operation at Lal
Masjid; we have no indication it is connected to a decision
by Baitullah Mehsud or others to re-launch suicide attacks
across Pakistan. End Comment.



PATTERSON