Cablegate: Security Status Update - Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
PP RUEHDE RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #4692/01 3071652
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031652Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2935
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 6600
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 1661
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 7838
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 3893
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 2405
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 004692
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2017
TAGS: PREL ASEC PTER PINR PK PGOV
SUBJECT: SECURITY STATUS UPDATE - FORMER PRIME MINISTER BENAZIR BHUTTO
REF: A. KARACHI 756 B. ISLAMABAD 4531 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: RSO RANDALL BENNETT, REASONS 1.4 (B, C, D)
1. (C) SUMMARY - According to the Sindh Inspector General (IGP) of Police, the suicide bombing attack of October 19 against former PM Bhutto (reftels) was carried out by two persons and was probably made possible due to the thorough advance public revelation of her plans and the snail-paced movement of the motorcade, which was advised against by Pakistani Police, PPP advisors, and outside associates and contacts. The casualties were 140 dead and almost 500 wounded. There were 200 Karachi Police Officers assigned to protect the former PM at her residence and during motorcade movements. (Note: Bhutto is now in Dubai. End Note.) This is augmented by a mix of armed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) personnel. During an interview with the Sindh Province Inspector General of Police (IGP), RSO Karachi was told that the police are not permitted inside the former PM's Bilawal House perimeter walls due to fears that she will be attacked by men in police uniforms. This was verified by a ConGen Karachi Surveillance Detection Team Supervisor who lives in the neighborhood and spoke with the perimeter police officers. RSO Islamabad has been in touch with Bhutto's Chief of Security, retired Major General Ahsan, who, though fanatically devoted to the former PM and the PPP, does not seem to know much about actual personal protective security procedures or methods. END SUMMARY.
SUICIDE BOMBING ATTACK UPDATE
2. (C) On November 01, RSO Karachi met with the Sindh Province IGP for a lengthy two-hour meeting to discuss various aspects of former PM Benazir Bhutto,s security. The IGP was very forthcoming in his comments and stated that prior to the arrival of Bhutto to Karachi, four high level meetings were held between the GoP and officials of the PPP representing Bhutto. Two meetings were held in the IGP Office and the other two were in the office of the Sindh Home Secretary. In these meetings, it was made clear to the PPP
SIPDIS representatives that certain dangers were inherent in the return of Bhutto to Karachi, mostly directed by elements from the northern areas. A detailed security plan was worked out for her arrival and a practice motorcade was even conducted over the same route. RSO Karachi was shown the planning file, which was about two inches thick. The Police felt the plan was sound and effective but advised the PPP representatives that the motorcade could not move as slowly as they wanted and should not take more than one hour to cover the 20 Kilometers. This proposal was rejected.
3. (C) The IGP stated the motorcade was moving at literally a walking pace. Two suicide bombers apparently approached from the left. The first bomber came from the left rear wearing an explosive device around his waist that was approximately 5 kilos in size. ( Note: This was originally thought to be a thrown grenade. End Note.) The device detonated about 20 feet from Bhutto,s vehicle. One police vehicle took the brunt of the initial blast. Approximately one minute later, the second bomber came from the left front wearing the device on his chest, which was about 12 kilos of high explosive material and detonated approximately 25 feet from Bhutto,s vehicle. This device had been heavily packed with ball bearings to maximize its destructive effect. Much of this blast was initially taken by one police vehicle and two parked PPP cars. 140 people died from the two blasts, of which six were police officers. (Note: Earlier reporting indicated 18-20 police officers were killed. End Note.) There were also about 500 persons wounded. The heads of the bombers were recovered and it appears they are from the northern areas and received assistance from "handlers" in Karachi. The IGP commented to RSO Karachi that this attack is described to be essentially the same in design as eleven previous attacks throughout Pakistan.
BHUTTO,S CURRENT SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS
4. (C) The IGP Sindh advised RSO Karachi that the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Imtiaz, was personally chosen by Bhutto to be the police officer in charge of her police security element since he was known to her. SSP Imtiaz currently has 200 police officers working the physical security issues of the residence/party headquarters (Bilawal
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House) and her vehicle motorcades. The PPP has also forced their own armed personnel into the protective mix to compensate for their low trust level of any GoP support. It should be noted that no police are permitted inside the Bilawal House perimeter walls, allegedly due to Bhutto,s belief the next attack will come from people wearing police uniforms. When Bhutto travels by motorcade in Karachi, there are 3 to 4 police escort vehicles with 20 officers and 2 armored vehicles with tinted windows for Bhutto. These armored vehicles were imported for Bhutto by the PPP prior to her arrival. The motorcade is assisted by police motorcycles clearing the way. The armed PPP security people also travel in these motorcades and have been given permission to display their weapons in public. A ConGen Karachi Surveillance Detection Team Supervisor lives in the same neighborhood as the Bilawal House and through innocuous conversations with on-duty police officers has corroborated the security arrangements. He was also told that the police are unhappy because they are not given any access to basic conveniences like bathrooms or potable water. The PPP and police are also in conflict over accusations that the police are tearing down the pro-Bhutto posters in the neighborhood.
SECURITY ELEMENTS OF THE PPP
5. (C) RSO Islamabad made phone contact with Bhutto,s Chief of Security, retired Major General Ahsan. Ahsan is a staunch, even fanatical, protector of Bhutto and defender of the PPP and proudly told the RSO of how he still carries a bullet in his leg from some previous political-related incursion. RSO Islamabad told Ahsan that his only interest was to follow up on a couple of items the USG was interested in. (See Ref. B) Ahsan agreed completely that this was a PPP and GoP issue. The RSO asked him if they had reviewed the list of three Pakistani security companies he submitted to them for their consideration and if they had made a decision or at least made contact. Ahsan stated that he and the PPP are completely against any outside organization overseeing their security and that he only trusts PPP personnel. Ahsan advised RSO two PPP men were arriving to work with him to oversee all security issues and they would use only PPP personnel since no one else could be trusted. Ahsan also stated update briefings on the bombing investigation were not being provided to Bhutto as promised. Ahsan stated that they still want the Pakistani Police to conduct the investigation but they want foreign involvement in the forensic areas, specifically the FBI and Scotland Yard. Major General Ahsan also requested that the RSO not mention his name to any Ministry of Interior officials due to some conflicts he had with them in the past. The RSO will attempt to validate this information through the Secretary of the MOI and will continue to monitor any changes to the situation.