The story ends happily, though. Sort of:
As a gun battle raged late on Friday, with snipers on the roof of the mosque forcing the army back to its lines 100 yards away, Khan, the father who had been pleading with his two daughters to leave, called them on their mobile phone and told them their mother was outside. She had been taken ill and lay unconscious on the pavement, he said.
It was a lie but it worked. The two girls quickly left the compound and found their waiting father in the crowd. “I’m taking them back to our village,” said Khan. “They were ready for martyrdom and they’re very angry with me. I’m just happy I’ve got my daughters back, and sorry for those whose daughters are still in there.”
Saima, in a bitter, fanatical voice that belied her 10 years, told The Sunday Times her father had cheated her of martyrdom. “The teachers taught us about martyrdom and that it is a great achievement,” she said.
“I could see the fighting was in front of me and I could understand that we would die. I felt real anger about what my father did. He tricked me.”
This is day six of the standoff if you’re counting. Pakistani troops blew two holes in the outer perimeter wall last night to make it easier for women and children to escape. The worry is that having to climb over the wall would give the jihadis inside time to gun them down in cold blood before they could make it. The head zombie, Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, naturally claimed the two wall explosions had killed hundreds and hundreds of people; in fact, the only casualty appears to have been a Pakistani special forces colonel shot by jihadis while the operation was going on. He’s survived by two daughters, ages four and five.
Actually, there’s some question about whether Ghazi is still the head zombie in charge. Pakistani officials claim that the jihadis — some of them “foreign fighters,” as AQ is so often described — have taken over, with support from an outfit that’s linked to the murder of Daniel Pearl. Whether that’s nonsense for western consumption or the god’s honest truth is anyone’s guess, but given the high profile of the Ghazi brothers and the Red Mosque’s status as a jihadi icon, it’s not far-fetched.
“Ghazi is no longer in control. The hardcore militants are in control of the mosque,” Haq told AFP. “Our fear is that they may start killing the women and children to press for their demand for safe passage.”
Haq said that inside the mosque there were “terrorists who are wanted within and outside Pakistan. These terrorists have links with Arabs.”…
“We believe there are militants from Harkatul-Jihad-e-Islami, which was involved in the Pearl murder. Based on intelligence we suspect that two commanders from the group are in there,” the official told AFP.
The organisation sheltered many of the Al-Qaeda militants who fled Afghanistan in 2001. Its former chief, Amjad Farooqi, played a key role in Pearl’s 2002 beheading and a 2003 attempt to assassinate Musharraf.
Meanwhile, Afghan intel tells the Beeb that no fewer than four “senior associates” of Mullah Omar have been arrested. Anyone want to guess where? Here’s a hint: it’s the same city where the last two Taliban chieftains were arrested, which, coincidentally, also occurred shortly after the U.S. did a little arm-twisting on Musharraf. Last time it was Cheney who did the twist; this time it was probably that NSC meeting last month that Musharraf attended that did the trick. (Well, that and the Red Mosque standoff.) Why, it’s almost as though they know where all these turds are and can round them up at a moment’s notice when they feel sufficiently moved to do so.
I wonder if they waited to move on these guys until they had Burqa Boy in custody, to make it look like he rolled over on them. The Taliban’s already paranoid about being betrayed by its own people. Why not stoke it?