|Saturday, 24 January 2004|
possible al Qaeda link in assassination bids
DAVOS, Switzerland, Thursday (Reuters) President Pervez Musharraf said that Pakistan was investigating a "definite possibility" that al Qaeda ordered or carried out two attempts to assassinate him last month.
Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the "war on terrorism" survived two attempts on his life in the space of two weeks last month. The second, on December 25, killed 15 people and wounded 45.
"We have unearthed a lot. We have in fact netted all the people directly involved in the action but we are trying to see who was behind them, the real links, as they say," Musharraf told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"We think that yes, there is a definite possibility of some al Qaeda in the rear," he added. "We are now trying to see the linkage with our (Pakistani) extremist organisations, we need to establish that still." The president told politicians and business leaders that fighting sectarian and religious extremism in Pakistan was, alongside economic development, the toughest challenge he faced.
Musharraf defended the effectiveness of military operations against Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the Pakistan-Afghan border area and said they would not re-emerge as a strategic threat, despite the failure to capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
Musharraf said Pakistan was thoroughly investigating the suspected transfer of nuclear technology or know-how to Iran by individual scientists, an issue which the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog is also probing.
"Pakistan is an extremely responsible state. All the nuclear and missile assets, the strategic assets, are under total custodial control," he said.
He said nuclear transfers were an international problem, involving "an entire underworld".
Produced by Lake House