The Pakistani people deserve an explanation as to who is Dr. Usman aka Muhammad Aqeel who has been acquitted by a Rawalpindi Anti Terrorism Court today due to “lack of evidence” in the Marriott Bombing case of 2008.
According to this report by Long War Journal, this Dr. Usman is the same Dr. Usman who led the attack on the GHQ in October 2009. At the time, Dr. Usman was the only terrorist caught alive after the rescue operation. After the operation, according to this report in The News, a committee was formed whose mandate was to investigate the GHQ attack. In November 2009, it presented its report to General Kayani. According to this report:
During the investigation, most of the information was provided by Aqeel Ahmed alias Dr Usman, the mastermind behind the attack, security sources told Online. The investigation team, comprising senior intelligence officials, was constituted by the Army chief, the sources said.
After Dr. Usman’s capture following the GHQ attack, the authorities announced that he was the mastermind of several terrorist attacks such as the attack on the Sri Lankan team, and an attack on President Musharraf. However it was never clarified that this was the same Dr. Usman who had been arrested following the Marriott bombing.
The Pakistani public deserves an explanation regarding this mysterious individual on several counts:
1. Is the Dr. Usman of the Marriott attack the same as the Dr. Usman of the GHQ attack?
2. If this is the case, then why has Dr. Usman been set free by the Rawalpindi ATC in the Marriott Bombing case and why is he not being tried for the GHQ case?
3. If this is the same Dr. Usman then why and when was he set free in the middle of the Marriott Bombing investigation?
4. Dr. Usman was allegedly being interrogated in the Special Intelligence Agency’s office in Model Town shortly before it was bombed. Is there any relation between his presence at the office and the attack on it?
5. What is the connection of Dr. Usman with the army medical store or medical corps as has been previously alleged?
6. Has the military privately made some kind of deal with Dr. Usman, securing his acquittal on the Marriott Bombing charges in exchange for information provided to the committee investigating the GHQ case?
See also this letter published in The News on October 14 2009 which asks the same questions, none of which have been answered to this date by the government:
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
If one goes back a year or so and reads local papers, one will find that the alleged mastermind of the attack on GHQ, Aqeel alias Dr Usman, had in fact been arrested by the secretariat police in October last year, for suspected involvement in the attack on the Marriott hotel. Reports published in national newspapers on Oct 25, 2008, said that an anti-terrorist court (ATC) in Rawalpindi had been told that four people had been arrested by the police in connection with the attack on the hotel. The report said that investigation officer Altaf Khattak had informed ATC Number 2 that the Secretariat police had arrested Dr Usman, Rana Ilyas, Muhammad Hameed Afzal and Tehseenullah Khan.
This means that the police — otherwise much-maligned for not doing their job and generally having a very shoddy performance in such matters — were actually able to get hold of at least some people who were quite clearly terrorists. May I ask why Dr Usman, whose arrest in 2008 is part of the published record, was released? May I also ask that was, upon his release, any effort made by the authorities — civil and/or military — to keep him under surveillance? Quite clearly, had this been done, perhaps the GHQ attack could have been pre-empted.