The meeting between senior al Qaeda leaders and high-ranking members of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network at a safe house the city of Peshawar, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, broke up in disarray after the musicians turned up at the heavily-guarded compound and burst through the gates performing its repertoire of classic Mexican wedding music.
The incident has raised diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Pakistani governments and has drawn demands for a formal apology from opposition politicians, who have long complained about U.S. drone strikes carried out unilaterally inside the country, which they claim mainly kill civilians. A spokesman for the main opposition group in parliament, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), told the Dandy Goat, “This is yet another flagrant American violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
A spokeswoman for wedding planners Days To Remember told the Dandy Goat the band was supposed to perform at a wedding taking place at the U.S. consulate in the city. “They saw a crowd of people gathering in and around a compound with a large number of SUVs parked outside, and assumed that was where the wedding was taking place,” said the spokeswoman. “It’s an easy mistake to make.”
“We would never deliberately send a mariachi band to play at a meeting of terrorists,” she added. “They were expecting to perform for an audience consisting mainly of innocent women, children and old people. They didn’t expect to encounter a large number of armed fighting-age males.”
The Haqqanis and al Qaeda are known to go to great lengths to ensure their security. “They avoid using cell phones or satellite communications, as emissions from these devices can be used by the Americans to guide airstrikes or drone attacks,” said one leading security analyst. “But they reckoned without a band of gaudily dressed musicians in sombreros simply walking through the front gate strumming funny guitars and shaking maracas.”
Witnesses say they observed a number of men fleeing the building in the early hours of Wednesday morning with their hands over their ears, screaming. The hard-line interpretation of Islam embraced by groups such as al Qaeda and the Haqqanis forbids any public performance of music, particularly upbeat Mexican ballads about passionate young newlyweds locking their mouths in endless kisses.