And then, sympathizers would accuse government forces of destroying the mosque themselves. Lal Masjid Update. “Suicide bombers hiding in mosque, claims Musharraf,” from Reuters:
ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf yesterday said suicide bombers from an Al Qaeda-linked militant group are holed up in a mosque in the centre of the capital, Islamabad.
Authorities have been locked in a tense standoff for months with clerics and students associated with Lal Masjid, who are pushing for imposition of Taliban-style social values in Islamabad.
at the mosque had threatened suicide attacks if government used force against them. Speaking to reporters, Musharraf said militants of Jaish-e-Mohamed, an Al Qaeda-linked group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, were hiding in the mosque.
“They are indoctrinated people,” he told a workshop on journalism. “There are also people associated to Jaish-e-Mohamed. They have explosives. Many of them are ready to carry out suicide attacks,” he added.
Musharraf, who survived two Al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempts, said the
government had tried to resolve the standoff through negotiations to avoid bloodshed in the
sprawling mosque complex.
“Action is ready but timing is important,” he said. “I am not a coward person … but the issue is tomorrow you will say what have you done. There are women and children inside,” he said.
Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of the mosque, said his followers would carry out suicide attacks if the government used force.
The date of this statement is unclear from the article, but nonetheless telling, and the cleric certainly has not retracted it:
“If the government carried out an operation then we will follow the way of jihad… our male and female students can carry out suicide attack as a last option,” he said, his face covered with a scarf.