"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Ansar.Abbasi
Full Name: Ansar Abbasi
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Was it an attack on US Marines?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

By Ansar Abbasi

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.

Suicide bomb guts Pakistan Marriott hotel

VIDEO | PHOTOS(Warning: Graphic)

Pakistani policemen arrive outside the burning facade of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 20, following a powerful bomb blast
Pakistani policemen arrive outside the burning facade of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 20, following a powerful bomb blast
Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty

Just hours after Pakistan's new President Asif Ali Zardari promised in his inaugural address to stamp out terrorism and extremism, militants answered with a bloody attack in his capital. A massive truck bomb at the gates of the Marriott Hotel, located in the heart of Islamabad close to parliament and other government buildings, killed at least 40 people and wounded some 100, leaving a 30-foot crater and destroying much of the hotel frequented by foreigners and well-to-do locals. Police said it was the largest bomb ever to have been detonated in the city, It is the largest bomb to have hit the city, with police estimating its payload at more than 2,200 pounds of explosives.

According to eyewitnesses, a large truck pulled up at the gates of the hotel at 8 p.m. local time, when many people inside the hotel were finishing their iftar meal to break the day's Ramadan fast. "The suicide bomber tried to enter from the main gate and blew up his truck," Sadruddin Hashwani, the hotel's owner, told reporters outside the hotel shortly after the attack. "Gas pipelines exploded because of the blast, causing the fire. Some people are still stuck, and we're trying to evacuate them."

Among the dead were security personnel and hotel staff, who were reported to have tried to stop the truck. Dawn News TV, a local English-language channel, reported that three Americans and a Danish diplomat were also killed "” although this was not confirmed by the U.S. embassy. The death toll is expected to rise, with the severely wounded including 10 foreigners from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Afghanistan. The landmark hotel is favored by foreign businessmen and government officials. Foreigners have been attacked twice before in Islamabad this year, when a small bomb killed one woman at an Italian restaurant, and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a subsequent attack on the Danish embassy.

The army was deployed to rescue survivors believed to be trapped inside the building as firefighters struggled to douse the flames that have irreparably damaged the building. Across the road, a row of cars were charred and mangled in front of an enclave of government residences, including the homes of many ministers, where the windows were smashed by the force of the blast.

The attack followed Zardari's address to a joint session of parliament, in which he vowed that his government would unite with other political forces behind a common strategy for fighting terrorism and extremism, but would not allow any foreign forces to enter Pakistan's territory "” a clear reference to the mounting controversy over U.S. military operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan's tribal areas. "We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism," said Zardari, who is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.

Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the Marriott attack, it is widely suspected that the Pakistan Taliban "” based in the tribal areas along the Afghan border "” are responsible. The Interior Ministry announced after the attack that it had received a non-specific warning, presumed to be from the Pakistan Taliban, of an attack on Saturday. After a months-long attempt at negotiating truces with militants, the Pakistani government has recently begun to act more aggressively, with a six-week long counterinsurgency operation currently underway in the Bajaur tribal agency. But, analysts say, the government has largely been distracted by internal wrangling over the fate of former president, Pervez Musharraf and the judges he sacked last year. On the day of the attack, Rehman Malik, the Interior Ministry chief, had boasted to reporters outside parliament that terrorism had diminished by "90%".

Zardari announced Friday that parliament would receive a confidential security briefing, in an effort to broaden support for his government's policy on the extremists. The government has been criticised for failing to discuss the issue with the legislature, and for lacking a coherent strategy. Pakistan's participation in the Bush Administration's "war on terror" is unpopular in Pakistan, with critics routinely describing it as "an American war" that has only succeeded in fueling extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

The attack in Islamabad was roundly denounced by all political parties and has once again raised fears of the rising ambitions of the militants. Local television channels have expressed outrage at the atrocity, and staged a fierce debate about the direction of the country. Geo Tv, the largest cable news channel, interspersed its coverage with a brief clip that mourns the loss of life against the background of the national anthem. "Ask yourself, what kind of Muslim can do this? What kind of human can do this?" a voiceover begged.

"The Taliban and the terrorists are saying this is war and we are here," says Najam Sethi, the editor of several Lahore-based liberal newspapers and a respected analyst. "This was as close as you can get to the parliament where President Zardari was speaking earlier today. They have had a lot of time to prepare for this." Sethi said that the militants had now turned on civilians, after focusing chiefly on military and law-enforcement targets in the past.

"They used to attack the military in the hoping of it isolating it from Musharraf. Then Benazir Bhutto came back and said she would take them on, and they attack her homecoming and later killed her," Sethi adds. "There are going to be two opinions coming out of this. The first, which I call the position of capitulation, will says, 'This is what happens when we fight America's war'. Then there are others, like us, who say we have to take them on. But what is needed is for all political parties, including the opposition, to come on board and take ownership of the policy."

Click here for photos of the rise and fall of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad Suicide Attacks ? An Insider Job

By Dr. Hassan Isfahani "¢ Sep 20th, 2008 

A car loaded with explosives struck at the main gates of one of the few five star hotels in Pakistan, and the hotel is in ashes and flames are engulfing the whole area. More than 50 have died and many are injured.

I have just one question:

If this attack has been carried out by the Taliban, then how it is possible that they got the car without any scanning all the way through FATA to Islamabad? That is not possible.

That means that the terrorists have the inside help and network fully active in Islamabad and it's adjoining areas. Just last month a gory attack was carried out in Wah Cantt, a suburb of Islamabad, where more than 200 people died. Last year, an attack was carried out the plane of Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi, and all those people had insider help.

This recent attack must have a thorough planning and help from within Rawalpindi or Islamabad. That is a failure of our security agencies. But what to expect of them, when all they are doing is tapping the phones of political leaders and protecting the Prime Minister House and President House and the army of ministers and advisors?

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