Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Anatomy of October 19 Blasts

by Adnan Gill

The way Pakistani government covers up every single bomb attack by declaring that it was an action of the suicide bomber has become a regular theme. Mostly people buy the government’s version with little or no questions asked. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for the establishment, the October 19 twin-bombing attacks (allegedly) on Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto were captured by numerous private TV cameras and by the print-media photographers. Most of these videos and still-photographs which are available on the Internet for the public to view potentially suggest a cover-up going up to the highest levels.

If one were to study these videos (widely available on YouTube), and the still-photographs (available among others on AP, AFP, Reuters, and the Daily Dawn's websites) one can argue that the nation has been once again misguided by the establishment, because pictures tell a story totally contradictory to what the latter wants us to believe. The contradictions are so shockingly obvious that it suggests that either the establishment likes to mock our intelligence, or its agents tasked to disseminate its story of suicide-bombers are highly incompetent; because even a 10th grade student with a basic knowledge of laws-of-physics can put together the sequence of events that took place on October 19. The motives behind the establishment’s possible cover up are a subject of another debate, so for now, first we will lay down some facts, circumstantial evidence, and ground rules to evaluate the evidence.

Rule # 1, laws of physics do not bend, twist, or change to anyone's liking or for that matter disliking.
Rule # 2, for the purpose of this column we will assume that the face of Ms. Bhutto’s armored truck was pointing to 12 o'clock, while its tail was pointing at 6 o'clock.
Rule # 3, fashioning an explosive device is more of a science than art.

Circumstantial evidence # 1, per PPP's statement Ms. Bhutto retreated to her heavily-armored cabin just minutes before the bombs exploded.
Circumstantial evidence # 2, every PPP leader standing on the top of the armored truck escaped the blasts virtually unscathed.
Circumstantial evidence # 3, numerous TV cameras and still photographs captured the images of the bombings and their aftermath live.
Circumstantial evidence # 4, government’s experts claimed the second (and the deadlier) bomb used approx. 14-15 kg of RDX explosives and hundreds of nails and ball bearings.

Fact # 1, RDX explosives are one of the most powerful and stable explosive. The velocity of RDX detonation at a density of 1.76 grams/cm³ is 8,750 meters per second.
Fact # 2, the shock-wave from the blast travels like a bubble and in a circular manner.
Fact # 3, the dispersal-pattern/direction of the shrapnel resulting from the blast can be managed and fashioned according to the need.

AAJ-TV was broadcasting live when the two blasts took place. Judging from the video images AAJ-TV cameras caught, one can safely assume that the first blast was of a restively low-intensity, and second blast was of much higher-intensity. It should also be kept in mind that the initial blast did not trigger the (what demolition experts call) sympathetic blast or the second explosion. That is most probably due to the stable nature of RDX explosives.

The other evidence one can safely gather from this video are:
1. Virtually everyone and everything stayed upright and intact on the right and backsides of the armored truck. This suggests the second explosive was a shaped-charge from which the shrapnel spread in an arc-pattern, and away from the truck. In other words, either by sheer luck or deliberately the trajectory of the blast was directed away from the truck in a cone-shape that spread from seven o'clock to one o'clock (relative to the truck).
2. People can be seen jumping off the armored truck and others climbing down the stairs after the blasts. This suggests that none of the people standing on top of the truck were seriously injured, which suggests that the shrapnel and the force/shockwave of the blast stayed closer to the ground. Typically, a well-directed shockwave generated by 14-15 kg of RDX from such a close proximity can turn the internal organs into gel. Another sign, it was probably a shaped-charge.
3. Before the second blast the left door of the truck could be seen in open position. Some unconfirmed reports claimed that just minutes before the blasts the truck was stopped to switch the drivers. Either way, it can be argued that the driver vacated the truck before the second blast. Which could mean, that the standard operating-procedure of immediately escaping the scene was not followed.
4. A vehicle can be observed to the front-left side (9-10 o'clock) of the truck and exactly in the front of a white Suzuki Alto engulfed in flames. Some reports alleged that the Suzuki Alto carried the bomb, but a spare wheel could be seen on the backside of the burning vehicle. Therefore it can be argued, that the burning vehicle was a Jeep rather than a small car. When this vehicle is observed from the other angles in the still pictures it shows its front was ripped open. Could this be the vehicle that carried the bomb? We will return to this question in a moment.

When asked, how the government can be so sure that it was an act of a suicide-bomber wearing a suicide belt, they immediately give a ready-made answer that since no crater/hole was found, it had to be a suicide bomber. It's difficult to tell if they give this ready-made answer out of ignorance or in an effort to cover-up the reality? Because a cleverly designed shaped-charge/explosive can easily leave no crater, which means such a signature could also be left out by other kinds of improvised explosives, like by a car-bomb.

If one would meticulously study the widely available still-pictures of the blasts, one could figure out the origination-point of the blast and the direction the shrapnel and debris traveled, which belies government’s version. Since the shockwave from an ordinary explosion travels in a circle, it knocks down objects around it like petals of a flower. If the blast was caused by a suicide-bomber then how did he/she managed to control the direction of the explosion and that too into the opposite direction of its alleged target? Another lucky coincidence or there is something more than meets the eye?

The pictures also show that the majority of victims lost their lower limbs and the clothing on their legs was either singed or torn apart by the blasts, while their torsos and shirts on them were relatively in better condition. Even the small trees and plants around the center of explosion told a story that the brunt of the shockwave traveled closer to the ground and not in a bubble shape. This is another telltale sign of controlled explosion, which was directed away and closer to the ground. Could it be another fortuitous coincidence for the alleged primary-target?

Some people could be seen as far as (roughly) hundred feet from the center of blast lying in the pool of blood. Strangely, the armored truck which was barely a 10 feet away from the center of explosion only sustained minor damage like flattened tires and few shrapnel penetrations in its windshield. A police van on the front-left side of the armored truck can be seen severely damaged. However, no evidence of even minor damage could be seen above the driver’s cab of the armored truck. This could be another sign that the explosion was caused by the shaped explosive whose trajectory was not pointed upwards where the PPP leadership was standing. Yet another fortunate coincidence?

Based on debris tracks, never mind from where one draws a line, they all triangulate to a point roughly where the vehicle on fire could be seen. From a front angle one can see the face of the mysterious burning vehicle spread open. Based on all of these educated and conservative observations, one could argue that either the government investigators are not qualified to conduct such investigations, or the establishment is hiding something and deliberately fooling the nation into thinking it was another merciless, cruel and deliberate action of suicide bombers. Because the circumstantial evidence suggest, that the origin of the second blast, which was in all likelihood a shaped-charge, took place on the front-left side of the armored truck that Ms. Bhutto was traveling in, and most importantly, it was directed away from her heavily-guarded and heavily-plated truck.

At this point it is hard to speculate about the motives and the forces behind the gruesome tragedy, but one can argue with high level of certainty, that the second blast was caused by a shaped-charge that was directed closer to the ground and away from the armored truck that was used by the high and mighty of PPP. It also cannot be disputed that while virtually all of PPP leadership came out of these deadly attacks literally unharmed, but hundreds of loyal foot soldiers/jialas of the same party miserably failed to escape the cold hands of death. It is said that due to this tragedy hundreds of jialas will remain maimed and handicapped for rest of their lives, hardly a matter of conciliation.

It is hard to believe that nature could be so compassionate and heartless at the same time. On one hand it spares the lives and well-being of every single member of PPP leadership, then simultaneously it blew up hundreds of its workers to smithereens. A one in a billion coincidence? You decide!

Attock News
The Frontier Post
Pakistan Observer
The Statesman


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