Thursday, July 12, 2007

Millennial Challenges: Lessons from the failed Suicide Terror at the Red Masjid, Pakistan

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Lessons from a failed Suicide Terror Group in the Red Masjid

World given first glimpse inside bloody Red Mosque after siege
(Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty)

The walls of the madrassa are riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic girls seminary was the scene of heavy fighting leading to the death of the chief cleric
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Zahid Hussain, at the Red Mosque, and David Byers
Pakistan was braced for a wave of terror attacks by pro-Taleban extremists today after the gruesome, blood-splattered remains of Islamabad's Red Mosque - emptied of Islamist militants by the Army earlier this week - were revealed to the world for the first time.

As the Army led journalists around the largely burnt-out holy site and Islamic school for girls, revealing wide-ranging destruction within the compound, officials confirmed for the first time that 75 militants had died during the Army's siege of the site, situated yards from the Pakistani Presidential complex.

Of those pulled out, 19 were so badly burned in fires which raged through the mosque during the fighting that Major General Waheed Arshad told journalists that they could have been of "any gender, any age". 11 soldiers were also killed in the fighting.

In a move that will further fan the flames of potential Islamist anger today, it appeared that some young women in the mosque's neighbouring madrassa may have been killed.

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The Army today confirmed that 39 of the bodies pulled out of the mosque had been aged under 18, but it did not say how many of those were girls. However, a few dozen female students were reported to have been trapped in the madrassa by running battles. The Army claimed that militants had been deliberately holding them hostage.

As reporters were shown around the mosque today, what little remained of the building and its madrassa made grim viewing.

In one room within the madrassa which was almost completely black and smelled of acid and burned flesh, a Pakistani Army soldier told reporters that a suicide bomber had blown himself up, killing five. Another room used as a pharmacy within the madrassa was also completely destroyed, after another militant appeared to have blown himself up.

In the mosque's basement where the chief cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi died, the walls were splattered with blood and covered in bullet holes. On the wall of one of the basement rooms, someone had written the Urdu message in chalk: 'Oh God. Give us a martyr's death.'

Another room in the basement appeared to confirm the militants' claims that they were heavily armed, and that they had planned wide-ranging attacks if they faced an Army assault.

It was filled with heavy weaponry, including six heavy machine guns, four rocket-propelled grenade launchers and dozens of ammunition rounds, anti-tank mines and two unexploded suicide vests, as well as dozens of assault rifles.

Gas masks, electronic scanners and scores of jihadi DVDs were seen to lie among the weapons while improvised devices including petrol-filled Molotov cocktails made from Pepsi and Sprite bottles and hand-made grenades were also seen, along with a ceremonial sword.

Guiding journalists around the complex, the military gave their version of the fighting which had caused such destruction. The Army said it had started in the red-walled mosque itself on Tuesday with militants firing at soldiers who climbed up onto the roof. The battle then moved into the girls’ school and the living quarters of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, whose death proved to be the turning point of the conflict. An army spokesman did not mention whether any girls were caught up in the fighting.

Ali Durrani, the Pakistani Information Minister, said that despite the threats of revenge and a fear of terror attacks, the Government had won the battle and scored an important victory against rising extremism in Pakistan. “It is definitely the militants who have lost. They had a place like this in the heart of Islamabad, but now they don’t have it any more," he said.

The country's pro-Western President, General Pervez Musharraf, was set to give a television address to the Pakistani people later today in which he was expected to call for calm.

However, at the funeral of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, his brother Abdul Aziz told around 2,000 mourners that the siege would lead to an "Islamic revolution" in the country. Mr Aziz was caught fleeing the mosque earlier this week dressed as a woman, and was permitted to attend the funeral accompanied by police. He has been charged with multiple terrorism-related offences.

Later, the first two attacks by Islamists against Government and Army targets were confirmed with three police officers reportedly killed by a suicide car bomber in north-western Pakistan, and two Government officials dying in a further attack near the Afghan border.

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