Sunday, September 21, 2008

Was it an attack on US Marines?

Ansar Abbasi

The News

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Was there a top secret and mysterious operation of the US Marines going on inside the Marriott when it was attacked on Saturday evening? No one will confirm it but circumstantial evidence is in abundance.

Witnessed by many, including a PPP MNA and his friends, a US embassy truckload of steel boxes was unloaded and shifted inside the Marriott Hotel on the same night when Admiral Mike Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad.

Both the main gates (the entrance and the exit) of the hotel were closed while no one except the US Marines were either allowed to go near the truck or get the steel boxes unloaded or shift them inside the hotel. These steel boxes were not passed through the scanners installed at the entrance of the hotel lobby and were reportedly shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the Marriott.

Besides several others, PPP MNA Mumtaz Alam Gilani and his two friends, Sajjad Chaudhry, a PPP leader, and one Bashir Nadeem, witnessed this mysterious activity to which no one other than the PPP MNA objected and protested.

A source present there told The News that after entertaining them with refreshments at the Nadia restaurant at midnight when Mumtaz Alam, along with his friends, was to leave the hotel, he found a white US embassy truck standing right in front of the hotel's main entrance.

Both the In-gate and the Out-gate of the hotel were closed while almost a dozen well-built US Marines in their usual fatigues were unloading the steel boxes from the truck. No one, including the hotel security men, was either allowed to go near the truck or touch the steel boxes, which were being shifted inside the hotel but without passing through the scanners.

Upon inquiry, one of the three PPP friends who was waiting for the main gates of the hotel to open to get his car in, was informed that the suspicious boxes were shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the hotel. Mumtaz Alam was furious both at the US Marines and the hotel security not only for the delay caused to them but also for the security lapse he was witnessing.

On his protest, there was absolutely no response from the Marines and the security men he approached were found helpless. Mumtaz Alam told the hotel security official that they were going to endanger the hotel and its security. He was also heard telling his friends that he would never visit the hotel again. He also threatened to raise the issue in parliament.

One does not know whether the PPP MNA revisited the hotel after that mysterious midnight but his brother Imtiaz Alam, who is a senior journalist, was in the same hotel when the truck exploded at the main gate of the hotel. Imtiaz Alam had a lucky escape and found his way out of the hotel with great difficulty in pitch darkness.

One of the lifts he was using fell to the ground floor just after he forced the door open on the 4th floor and got out of it.

Comments:

This is the US Marine activity mentioned in the comments to the Pavocavalry article below. If there's a domestic militant linkage, it would have to be this.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Zee, I don't know where you are, but thank god you are safe.

Darn it, you have completely abandoned chowk, which is probably the best thing, under the circumstances.

Zeemax said...

Anonymous,

Thanks I'm fine, though stressed for obvious reason.

Re Chowk, it was only with a very heavy heart. You know I had probably been its biggest loyalist since a decade, but now I felt I have nothing to say there anymore - and the provocations were turning me into a juvenile.

One must never fall into those traps.

Zeemax said...

The Czech Ambassador has just been confirmed amongst the dead.

There we go. The 'new' Europe will join in too.

Zeemax said...

Oh ... Rehman malik has just revealed in his Press Conference the Czech ambassador was there with a friend whom both died. When pressed who it was by reporters, he let it slip it was his girlfriend.

What a price to pay for a fling.

Zeemax said...

Another significant fact he (Rehman Malik) revealed is that it was incendiary material mixed with TNT and RDX meant to set fires.

This sets it apart from the FIA Building attack in Lahore which was destroyed but didn't catch fire. He said it was a very sophisticated attack targeting upper floors, and fires were in the upper floors, not in the lower ones.

We all saw that on TV. Only the top floors were on fire.

He also admitted a dozen or so US Marines were staying there.

Anonymous said...

zee, what does all this "tough-talk" from zardari mean? Since he depends heavily on American support (I am assuming), is he going to be further isolated as he drags his country into war the 'terrorists.' He surely doesn't have the balls to look the US in the eye, does he?

Zeemax said...

Anonymous,


well, the theory goes - which makes a lot of sense - is that the NRO was sponsored by the US and the British to replace Musharraf who had simply become too unpopular to continue with WOT. No one was willing to believe Musharraf in "It is our war", while chances were people would believe an elected representative.

So, as we see none of Musharraf's policies have been changed, but rather accelerated, and whatever Zardari says is just for public consumption. Only the baton has been passed in the relay race.

cliftonbridge said...

If this was an attack on US marines surely someone would have claimed responsibility by now?

Zeemax said...

cliftonbridge,

As it's turned out, it wasn't an attack on US Marines. That was just my initial question given the news report. The Marines just happened to be there and two were killed as per US Embassy. The attack was bigger than that. It was an attack on a major symbol of Pakistan's Capital to send a signal.

I believe it was the sectarians who have the suicide bombers, but not other resources to carry out an operation like this. They had outside help. Maybe from within the borders, maybe outside.

If Pakistani Taliban had done it, they would have claimed responsibility, just as they did at Wah Ordnance factory.

I asked the question in the other article here. How does a six-wheeler dumper truck laden with a ton of a volatile mix of incendiary explosives travel all the way from Waziristan to Islamabad - on a day of a security lock-down due to the joint Assembly Session - and blow up the Islamabad Marriot? It would have been equipped in Islamabad itself.

If someone had to have such a base in a small city like Islamabad, it could only be with connivance of the Government. I don't see how else is it possible.

But using this as a ruse, now they're going to pile into Waziristan, Bajaur etc as far as they can and allow US troops in too, and make it even worse.

Tribal Areas are being purposely turned into an enemy foreign country, and that's a huge tragedy for Pakistan. We've turned upon the most loyal of our citizens.

cliftonbridge said...

Zee if AQ can car bomb the twin towers in nyc (a much harder thing to do)then why cant they bomb islamabad without govt assistance.

I agree that this doesnt seem trademark taliban but before i blame zardari as despicable and oppurtunist as he is .....i think id blame the 1000 pound gorrilla who does exactly this sort of thing for a living.

cliftonbridge said...

ps- miss you on chowk but your website is so much more cool :)

Zeemax said...

cliftonbridge,

Back then when the first WTC bombing took place, there was no concept of anyone doing such a thing and no security at all. In fact, once when I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama around that time, my cousin was waiting right outside the aircraft on the taxiway! It's now inconceivable anyone unauthorized could get anywhere near.

In this instance there was a security lockdown on Islamabad because of the Joint Assembly Session and lots of VVIP movement in the city. I just don't see how a ton of explosives could be riding around on a six-wheeler dumper truck stolen from Taxila!

Hey thanks for your later comment. I don't think there's anything for anyone to gain on Chowk anymore, only lots to lose - like one's sanity!

Anonymous said...

You know, zee, there is something most remarkable here. It is about you. I have said it before, but will repeat it since you don't visit chowk (often?) anymore.

For entirely personal, emotional reasons, which have not a whit to do with reason, reality or argument, I just can't bring myself to accept the possibility that anybody within the Pakistani government could have played any role in perpetrating this heinous crime. I didn't accept similar arguments when violence occurred in India, and can't seem to accept them in the case of Pakistan.

But arguments come and go (and this is not even a disgreement since mine is a purely emotional response in this situation).

What really matters (to me at least) is intellectual and moral integrity. And zee, you have it, and you are unique.

Absolutely unique. There has not been a single other Pakistani (or Indian liberal) who has openly made the suggestion you have. That is totally inexplicable and strange, considering that for the last 10 years, people on chowk have thought in almost no other terms.

OK, I gotta to run, so probably this will not make any sense to you (LOL, sorry!). I just wanted to say that although I have a hard time accepting the theory of Pakistani government's involvement (for what it is worth, some group seems to have claimed responsibility now), I feel proud to think of you as a friend, and wouldn't change that for anything in the world. Cheers and stay safe, please.

P.S.: Ijaz gul is another consistent person. He too made some suggestion along these lines but from what I understood, he was hinting not at Pakistani involvment but more at the usual suspects - US/Israel/India being behind the attack - you know the kind of thing that HP would say if and whenever it suited his purpose. :)

Later!

Anonymous said...

By the way, given Zardari's close linkage with the US, if one accepts Pakistani government's involvement (in some measure) then US involvement would not be far fetched either.....

Zeemax said...

Anonymous,

Re: "I just can't bring myself to accept the possibility that anybody within the Pakistani government could have played any role in perpetrating this heinous crime."

Alas my friend, the truth is that in far-reaching geo-political projects, a few lives hardly matter for those who believe, in all earnestness, they're playing a part in shaping history.

Consider for a moment:

(1) There were two vehicles immediately behind Benazir's - one an armored stand-by vehicle for her, and the other a Police Mobile. Yet at the time of the blast, there was none. When her vehicle was disabled on the way to hospital, there was no car available to rush her to hospital till Sherry Rehman's driver reached the spot.

2) Whether there was a postmortem remains a mystery and the body was hurriedly stuffed in a coffin which was too small - a bigger one arranged only on the protests of Naheed Khan.

3) The crime scene was hosed down at someone's orders, removing all evidence including the crucial shell-casings.

All these strange acts i.e. missing police mobile, events at the Government hospital, hosing of the crime scene were obviously ordered by some Government officials who would still be around to answer why.

Is it conceivable that Zardari would insist on a UN inquiry, but not launch a domestic one, to find out who in the Government ordered things like the above?

In the meantime his own Security Chief is eliminated in a targeted attack, and that of his wife who failed in his responsibility to ensure her security made the Federal Interior Minister.

Does any of the above make any sense at all?

In the Pakistani public perception, it was never 'Our War'. So, in my view, a decision was taken to 'make' it 'Our War' - by hook or crook - and you may have noticed the changing perception of Pakistani public as a result.

Zeemax said...

Anonymous,

BTW Thanks for your very generous comments, which I have no doubt are quite undeserved.

Regards