Plot to assassin Mush uncovered

Islamabad, December 18:

Pakistani police have unearthed a plot to assassinate ex-president Pervez Musharraf and the revelation forced the former strongman to flee the country, a media report said today.

Police have alleged the conspiracy was masterminded by Sheikh Omar, a militant linked to al-Qaeda, who is on death row in a prison in the southern city of Hyderabad for the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

According to a report in the English-language daily The News, Omar directed his colleagues via mobile phone from his cell to kill Musharraf in the southern city of Karachi or in Rawalpindi, a garrison town adjoining the capital Islamabad, with a suicide car bomb.

The plot was uncovered in late November, the paper said. The militants from the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi organisation were monitoring Musharraf’s movements in Rawalpindi, where he has lived with his family since he resigned as president August 18. Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said Omar also phoned Musharraf on his personal mobile phone number and threatened to kill him without identifying himself, saying: “I am after you, get ready to die.” Musharraf, a former key ally of the US in the fight against terrorism, immediately left the country for London November 22. He returned a few days later and is now staying at a heavily-guarded, palatial residence formerly used by the country’s military chiefs.

Investigators traced the threat call to Hyderabad prison and police recovered three mobile phones, six batteries and 18 SIM cards from Omar’s cell.

Six prison officers, including the jail superintendent, were suspended for “criminal negligence.” Omar was arrested in February 2002 for the murder of Pearl and

sentenced to death the following year along with three accomplices. He reacted defiantly

to the court verdict and vowed to exact revenge against those who had “arranged” his death sentence.

Outside the court, his lawyer read a message from Omar saying, “We shall see who will die first. Either I or the authorities who have arranged the death sentence for me.” Six months later, Musharraf survived two assassination attempts in Rawalpindi. Authorities believe Omar had links with the two suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on the former president.

Omar, who once attended the London School of Economics, has managed to delay

his execution by making repeated appeals against the verdict which are still pending in

various courts.