Majid Khan Charged with Musharraf Assassination as Musharraf Accused of Sheltering Bin Laden

As Carol Rosenberg first reported, the government charged former US resident Majid Khan in Gitmo’s military commission on Monday. One of those charges–attempted murder in violation of the laws of war–pertains to his alleged attempt to assassinate Pervez Musharraf on March 8, 2002.

In that Majid Shoukat KHAN, a person subject to trial by military commission as an alien unprivileged enemy belligerent, did, on or about March 8, 2002, at or near Karachi, Pakistan, in the context of and associated with hostilities, intentionally and unlawfully attempt to kill Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in violation of the law of war, by wearing a vest containing an improvised explosive device and traveling to a mosque where he expected President Musharraf to be with the intention of detonating the vest and killing President Musharraf, which actions amounted to more than mere preparation and apparently tended to effect the commission of the offense of Murder in Violation of the Law of war.

That’s pretty ironic given that the same day Rosenberg reported the Khan charges, the Daily Beast reported an accusation, made by the former head of Pakistan’s ISI, Ziauddin Khawaja, that Musharraf knew one of his close allies was sheltering Osama bin Laden.

Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.

Ziauddin first made the accusation last October.

I’m sure time will sort out both these accusations. But it sure doesn’t make (much) sense that Khan was trying to kill Musharraf at the same time as Musharraf was watching a close ally construct a compound for OBL.

Although maybe it explains how Musharraf knew not to show up on the day Khan allegedly waited for him wearing a suicide belt.

Update: Alternately, if KSM sent Khan with a “suicide vest” containing no explosives to a location where Musharraf was not scheduled to appear, would it really amount to an assassination attempt? This is from Khan’s Gitmo file, and appears to be based on his interrogation in CIA custody from 2004.

Detainee said he checked the vest and did not see any explosives inside, and also noticed there was no increase in security at the mosque as would be expected during a presidential visit.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. Bob Schacht says:

    Who is wearing the white hats and who the black hats looks different through a Western prism. “How could he?” may indicate a failure to appreciate the realities of a foreign perspective. Besides, the mark of a good politician is to have sources and allies on both sides of every fight who would kill each other if you put them together. We’ve lost that art in the U.S.

    Bob in AZ

  2. PeasantParty says:

    Questions:

    Why are we holding this man instead of Pakistan?
    Did I misread or not understand the part about “former US citizen”?
    Is Pakistan and their leader’s threats now our responsibility?
    Should these hearings and trials not take place in Pakistan instead of Gitmo and under US?

    I just have too many questions or am not understanding the threat here to US troops.

  3. Bill Michtom says:

    I’m with Peasant Party. This makes NO SENSE at all. I know the US acts in loco sovereignty in countries it occupies, but that hasn’t happened in Pakistan, yet.

    WTF?

  4. JTMinIA says:

    Why is it against the rules of war to try to kill the leader of your enemy’s military? Or was it only illegal because he wasn’t in uniform? And if it’s the latter, do the guys controlling the drones all wear uniforms at work or are they committing war-crimes, too?

  5. Jeff Kaye says:

    Strange re the charges of assassination. They read, as you quote:

    In that Majid Shoukat KHAN, a person subject to trial by military commission as an alien unprivileged enemy belligerent, did, on or about March 8, 2002, at or near Karachi, Pakistan, in the context of and associated with hostilities, intentionally and unlawfully attempt to kill Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in violation of the law of war, by wearing a vest containing an improvised explosive device and traveling to a mosque where he expected President Musharraf to be with the intention of detonating the vest and killing President Musharraf, which actions amounted to more than mere preparation and apparently tended to effect the commission of the offense of Murder in Violation of the Law of war.

    As you noted, Khan’s Gitmo file says there were NO explosives in the vest. Furthermore — and this is all from Khan’s tortured testimony, no doubt — that this was a “test” by KSM of Khan’s “willingness to die for the cause.” In fact, more than once the Gitmo report refers to this incident as “a pseudo-suicide assassination attempt against Pakistani President Musharraf.”

    As I read it, it makes it seem more as if Khan was set up by KSM or AQ (if this event even really ever happened), to make it look later as if Khan were, as the charges maintain, trying to assassinate via suicide vest Musharraf. I’m not saying that’s what happened (how would I know), but anyone looking at this might question the whole thing.

    And that would call into question who KSM worked for. It is odd that KSM was at large for so long. Also, it is clear that military intelligence had its sights on KSM pre-9/11, knew right where he was, but were called off and made to stand down on this. (I’m talking about the testimony of the former head of the Asymmetric Threats Division of Joint Forces Intelligence Command, in a letter sent to the DoD IG and later published by Jason Leopold and myself. JFIC’s work in this regard was deliberately withheld from Congressional investigators in 2002.)

  6. PeasantParty says:

    @Jeff Kaye: Thank goodness I’m not the only one with questions.

    Jeff,

    Would we not have to be at war within Pakistan for all this to be legal? Heck, the more I see and read, and can’t understand it makes me think these Gitmo holdees were once working for the US. Stinky, Stinky, Stinky. Something has gone bad here.

  7. emptywheel says:

    Folks

    Some of the rest of the charges allege involvement in other attacks, both in Bali and plans in the US. So while the Mush attack should be a Pakistani thing (though they were involved in capturing Khan), the rest are global.

  8. MadDog says:

    I wonder if Majid Khan’s defense team will attempt to get KSM to testify, and then, whether the Military Commission judge will allow it.

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