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Monday, September 14, 2009
Blackwater involved in Bhutto and Hariri hits: former Pakistani army chief
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN - Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg (ret.), has said the U.S. private security company Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
Blackwater later changed its name and is now known as Xe.
General Beg recently told the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.
General Beg, who was chief of army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration, said U.S. officials always kept the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan secret because they were afraid of possible attacks on the U.S. Embassy and its consulates in Pakistan.
During an interview with a Pakistani TV network last Sunday, Beg claimed that the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.
Beg stated that the former Pakistani prime minister was killed in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile.
Beg also said he believes that the former director general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was not an accomplice in the conspiracy against Benazir Bhutto, although she did not trust him.
The retired Pakistani general also stated that Benazir Bhutto was a sharp politician but was not as prudent as her father.
On September 2, the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Anne W. Patterson, intervened with one of the largest newspaper groups in Pakistan, The News International, to force it to block a decade-old weekly column by Dr. Shireen Mazari scheduled for publication on September 3 in which Mazari, the former director of the Islamabad Institute of Strategic Studies, broke the story of Blackwater/Xe’s presence in Pakistan.
The management of The News International dismissed one of the country’s most prominent academics and journalists due to U.S. pressure. She joined the more independent daily The Nation last week as an editor.
On September 9, in her first column in The Nation, Dr. Mazari wrote:
“Now, even if one were to ignore the massive purchases of land by the U.S., the questionable manner in which the expansion of the U.S. Embassy is taking place and the threatening covert activities of the U.S. and its ‘partner in crime’ Blackwater; the unregistered comings and goings of U.S. personnel on chartered flights; we would still find it difficult to see the whole aid disbursement issue as anything other than a sign of U.S. gradual occupation. It is no wonder we have the term Af-Pak: Afghanistan they control through direct occupation loosely premised on a UN resolution; Pakistan they are occupying as a result of willingly ceded sovereignty by the past and present leadership.”
According to Al Watan, Washington even used Blackwater forces to protect its consulate in the city of Peshawar.
In addition, U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh has accused former U.S vice president Dick Cheney of being involved in the Hariri assassination.
He said Cheney was in charge of a secret team that was tasked with assassinating prominent political figures.
After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, the U.S. and a number of other countries pointed the finger at Syria, although conclusive evidence has never been presented proving Syrian involvement in the murder.