A deadly suicide attack in Peshawar, Pakistan today that killed 10 and injured 70 was reportedly aimed at Police Commissioner Sahibzada Anees, the presiding officer in the appeal of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the man who helped the U.S. search for Osama bin Laden and is now serving a 33-year sentence on terrorism charges.
Anees was widely cited in Pakistani and Indian media as the target, though he was not harmed in the blast, which was carried out by a motorcyclist. Anees’s official vehicle passed through the area moments before the attack, and he himself was at home at the time the attack occurred. Anees has denied being the target.
Last Thursday, Apr. 25, Anees assumed his duties as the presiding officer for appeals under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, the British colonial system of tribal justice that still governs Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He heard Dr. Afridi’s re-started and long-delayed appeal for the first time.
As Breitbart News reported exclusively earlier today, Dr. Afridi’s legal team was optimistic after Anees said he would issue his ruling this Thursday, May 2–coincidentally, the second anniversary of the bin Laden raid. One of Dr. Afridi’s lawyers estimated the chances of his client’s release as “50-50,” a striking turnaround.
However, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who has led congressional efforts to secure Dr. Afridi’s release, cautioned that “until the moment that Dr. Afridi is released and is outside the jurisdiction along with his family, we do not know whether or not some radical Islamic fanatic will pound on the table and force a reversal…”.
Among the fatal casualties of Tuesday’s were two Afghan consular officials in the area, prompting speculation that they, not Anees, were the intended targets. However, other Afghan officials were not prepared to accept that explanation, indicating that there had not been any security threats against them before.
The Taliban have been involved in a series of terror attacks across Pakistan in recent days in an apparent attempt to sabotage the country’s May 11 elections. Dr. Afridi’s family have also indicated that they live in fear of Taliban reprisals for their relative’s role in the successful raid against the notorious Al Qaeda leader.