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Home > News > Report

What the Lal Masjid cleric said before he was killed

July 11, 2007 02:52 IST

Hours before he was killed in a massive military operation by Pakistani forces, the deputy head of Lal Masjid Abdul Rashid Ghazi alleged that the action against him was being orchestrated by the United States.

The 43-year-old fiery cleric claimed that former prime minister Shujaat Hussain, also the chief of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q, and Religious Affairs Minister Ijazul Haq, who held talks with him over phone yesterday, wanted him to bow down and had threatened to launch the military operation against the militants inside the Lal Masjid.

As the security forces suddenly launched the operation soon after Hussain announced the failure of talks at a nationally televised press conference, Ghazi appeared on TV channels at 0400 hrs, undaunted by the heavy explosions that rocked the besieged mosque complex in the heart of this city.

"I said to Shujaat (Hussain) that kill us, but people will not allow you to go in peace," Ghazi, who was reportedly holed up in a basement bunker, told Geo TV, using a mobile given to him by the negotiators.

Referring to Operation Silence, the codename of the military operation, Ghazi said, "This is gross injustice. The people conducting the operation are American agents and are carrying it out on the US' bidding. Now I am sure to be martyred soon."

Asked what would be his message as the operation got underway, he said, "The prevalent system is creating problems, where some families are in possession of powers and are afflicting everybody with misery. These problems will stay unresolved until the Islamic system is established."

Ghazi criticised a number of clerics, including the head of the outlawed militant group Harakatul Mujahideen Fazalur Rehman Khalil, who he said had tried to persuade him to opt for a negotiated settlement to end the eight-day-old siege.

"The ulema (Islamic clerics) expressed fear and they did not want to take any stand. They should have sided with the truth," he said. "We did not commit any crime for which we are being punished so tremendously. The government is using naked aggression with reckless blind force against us.

"In talking to the ulema, I acceded to the handover proposal in front of the media so that the whole world may see how many weapons we possess. This was my last conversation with them. I put forward this condition because they (the government) have already been deceiving and have killed many mujahideen."

Ghazi claimed he and his associate had 14 Kalashnikov rifles. "With these weapons, we resisted for eight days."

He claimed that his 30 associates had held back the security forces and given them a tough time. "If some stand is taken, then you can fight for it."

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