Elimination of Malik Ishaq no fatal blow to sectarian killings

Malik Ishaq

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Although elimination of Malik Ishaq, chief of his own major faction of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a ‘police encounter’ in Muzaffargarh district of Punjab on late Tuesday is being seen as a serious blow to sectarian outfits, a recent study shows the group only claimed 14% of the total sectarian killings carried out in the country, and numerous groups responsible for similar attacks are still ‘on the run’.

Ishaq was killed when along with his two sons was being taken by counter terrorism department (CTD) officials to Muzaffargarh for identification of detained men on suspicion of being members of Ishaq’s group. On the way, in a bid to release the LeJ chief, a group of men on motorcycles ambushed the convoy near Shahwala Jungle, and as a result, in the exchange of fire, 14 suspected militants, including the group’s chief were killed.

Ishaq’s second-in-command, Ghulam Rasool and other top leaders were also slain in the shootout, a Punjab Home Ministry spokesperson told media.

The killing is being seen as a step towards the end of killings based on sectarian motives; however, according to the CRSS Security Report Jundullah, another terrorist organisation, is responsible for most of the sectarian killings in Pakistan. It has claimed 23 per cent of sectarian killings in the country.

The second highest number of sectarian attacks in Pakistan was claimed by the Jundul Hafsa group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), killings 83 people of rival sects. Similarly, the TTP Ansarul Islam claimed killing 60 people with sectarian motives, attaining the third position.

According to the report, the LeJ claimed responsibility of 53 killings – just 14 per cent of the total 366 sectarian murders – and that too before the start of Zarb-e-Azb operation, the military offensive against militants in FATA and other areas in Pakistan.

Other prominent claimants of the sectarian killings include Da’ish or the Islamic State (IS) and TTP-Jamaat-al-Ahrar. Both the outfits claimed 45 and 26 murders, respectively.

During the first two quarters of the current year, TTP-JA claimed killing 26, Jundullah 82, Jundullah/IS 45, whereas three killings out of the total 156 sectarian deaths were claimed by other groups.

The data shows 85 casualties, including 64 fatalities and 21 injuries, during the last three months, May-July 2015. May remained the worst with 72 attacks, almost 85 per cent of the total during the period.

Comparative analysis of killings in general

A comparative analysis of sectarian of the killings in 2014 and first six months of the current year shows Punjab, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan controlled the menace as not even a single killing was reported in the respective administrative units.

In Sindh, 79 casualties, including 72 fatalities and seven injuries were reported in 2014, whereas 48 per cent of the victims belonged to this region in 2015. This mostly included victims of Safoora carnage, when over 40 Ismaili Shias were gunned down in Karachi. .

In Balochistan, 14 killings with 10 injuries have been reported so far against 34 fatalities and 25 injuries in 2014, making it the region with second highest number of killings of sectarian nature.

Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has also performed well in controlling the killings – only one person was killed on the basis of one’s sect in 2015 as compared to eight murders and 12 injuries on the same grounds in 2014.

In total, 270 casualties, including 129 killings 141 injuries were reported in 2014 whereas 64 persons were killed and 21 wounded until 2015. This includes 104 and 18 Shia killings in 2014 and first six months of 2015.

Meanwhile, at least 16 of those killed so far in 2015 belonged to the Christian faith, 11 were Sunni Muslims, three Bohras and 47 Ismaili Muslims. Identity of 13 is unknown.

The report adds that despite a considerable improvement in the security situation of the country, and a significant reduction in number of killings in all forms of violence; religiously-driven militancy and politically patronised criminal syndicates remain the most formidable challenges for the security agencies.

“As the terrorists – most of whom are inspired either by local or external drivers as ploys of instability – are feeling the heat and are resorting to new tactics; picking up new targets through different tactics, followed by claims of responsibility by more than one groups” the report says.

Appeared in The Frontier Post – Peshawar originally

Pakistani Gays, Fashion Designers at militants’ hit-list

saad aziz safoora incident

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Siding with government and military that supports American led invading forces and not airing or publishing the militant’s point of view has been the criteria for making it to the hit-lists of Taliban and other proscribed organizations but Al Qaeda’s militants – presently in custody of law enforcers – have disclosed they had some more reasons as well, we have reliably learnt.

“Deep neck, skirts, mini-skirts, sleeveless dresses are promoting obscenity in the country and fashion designers are setting up foundation for an obscene and vulgar Pakistan” this was one of the reasons, which Saad Aziz – the alleged killer of Sabeen Mahmud and Safoora bus victims – shared in response to a question posed by interrogators as Why fashion designers be attacked.

For TV artists they perceived were gay and spreading homosexuality in the country, which was curved out of the Indian sub-continent in the name of Islam.

The hit-list recovered from Safoora’s suspects also includes the names of at least five Fashion designers and same number of television artists, highly credible sources told this scribe.

All journalists, fashion designers and artists, SP Raja Umar Khattab – In-charge Counter Terrorism Unit of Karachi police – claims, are saved after the lethal network has now been busted.

“By killing the selected ones we wanted to make them a lesson for others who are bent upon making Pakistan a vulgar and obscene country and like the west, in most parts of which the homosexuality has been legalized”, Saad Aziz told interrogators.

Many terrorist acts like attack on American Professor, murder of Director T2F Sabeen Mahmud were brain child of Saad Aziz, who due to his association with upper strata of the society would always think out of box and to the level to which the mind of Taliban and other militants from lower and middle classes would hardly reach, a police officer associated with case told while demanding anonymity.

Aziz, a former graduate of the prestigious Institute of Business Administration (IBA) – an institute that had been alma-matter of incumbent president Mamnoon Hussain, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain among others – offered some unique reasons for attacking the artists.

“The hit-list has enlisted artists who, Saad Aziz and his fellow perceived, were Gays and working for spreading it in Pakistani society” sources said.

According to sources Aziz was influenced by the news items appeared in some section of Pakistani media that the United State embassy in Islamabad, which reportedly hosted a meeting of Pakistani gay and lesbians in July 2011, has actively launched a campaign to “spread homosexuality” in the country and “tainting” the posh areas of Lahore and Karachi.

“The U.S. embassy doled out huge funds to Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to oversee the campaign and it helping homosexuals to get Canadian and American visas on priority basis” stated a Urdu Daily while quoting its sources, adding the campaign was so widespread that lawyer body in Islamabad had to submit a formal complaint to Senior Superintendent of Police to lodge case against U.S activities for the “protections of humanity.”

With this background in mind and legal battles in the USA and west for legalizing gay marriages, Aziz wanted, according to his account before investigators, to have a pull stop to spreading homosexuality in Pakistan by killing the said artists.

According to police sources the fashion designers who made it to hit-list were also believed by the Al Qaeda youth network as Gays.

It is worthy to note that the hit-list, which police claimed to have recovered from Safoora suspects, also includes the names of journalists and law enforcers.

Originally Published  “The Frontier Post”

Veiled threats

Women are increasingly playing key roles in terrorist attacks

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Sadia Jalal, a university teacher, was arrested earlier in July for her role in the Safoora terrorist attack in which 43 Shia Ismaili passengers of a bus were shot and killed one by one.

Sadia was a professor in a private university, and is the third wife of Jalal, a leader of Al Qaeda in Pakistan who is accused of “facilitating the suspects of the Safoora carnage.” An investigation team that questioned the suspects said the woman “had been brainwashing students for recruiting them in a terrorist outfit”, according to media reports.

The arrest – made during a law-enforcement operation in the central district of Karachi – came as a shock to many. “A possible involvement of a woman, and that too a teacher, in such a high profile case of terrorism is worrisome,” said Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat – founding chairman of the Department Criminology at the University of Karachi.

According to Raja Umar Khattab, a senior officer in the counter terrorism department of Karachi police, wives of militants are often facilitators of terrorism. “They remain loyal to their husbands and protect them from being arrested,” he said. Khattab said the militants often intermarried, forming “militant families”. “Many Arab Jihadists married Mehsud girls from local Jihadi families,” he said.

Last month, Karachi police nabbed several members of Swat Taliban in the Mominabad area of Karachi. The militants were living along with their wives and children in a house which was also used as an explosives factory. Police officials say the wives of the militants who die often remarry another militant.

But Islamabad-based journalist and militancy expert Hasan Abdullah says women have pivotal roles in some jihadi groups, not just as wives of militants or facilitators. “Groups like Al Qaeda have always tried to remain a step ahead of state institutions by often deploying means that have been regarded as against the norms,” says Hasan, who has spent time in militant camps in order to carry out his professional duties. “Their female members have played a part in their warfare. From suicide attackers to teachers, to spies, technical experts, doctors and much more.”

Women can evade snap checks

On November 19, 2012, a woman detonated her suicide vest near former Jamaat-e-Islami emir Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s vehicle in the northwest Mohmand tribal agency of Pakistan. Qazi Hussain Ahmed was accused by former Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud of being a supporter of Pakistan’s US-allied government.

A female suicide attacker was killed when she tried to smuggle explosives into an Imambargah near Khalid Bin Waleed Road in Karachi in December 2013.

In February this year, the federal interior ministry sent an alert to the provincial governments that terrorists planned to carry out fresh attacks using female suicide bombers. The reason cited in the letter was that women could evade being searched or snapchecked.

Last year, Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz said in an interview with Bloomberg News that 500 women of Pakistani Taliban were ready to carry out suicide attacks. In November 2014, a video produced by the female students of the Lal Masjid-run Jamia Hafsa seminary showed them declaring their allegiance to the Syria and Iraq based Islamic State. The girls urged Pakistani militants to join them.

The phenomenon is not limited to Pakistan. On May 17, The Mirror reported that British terror suspect Samantha Lewthwaite – sometimes referred to as the ‘White Widow’ – was likely responsible for the deaths of at least 400 people, including the slaughter of 148 people at a university in Kenya.

“The British woman – a graduate of London University, is now trusted by bosses including al-Shabaab leader Ahmad Umar to co-ordinate major atrocities, terror raids, suicide attacks and car bombings in Somalia and Kenya,” the report said.

Last month, three Bradford sisters and their nine children split into two groups to cross the border into Syria, reportedly to join ISIS.

On January 6, a woman set off explosives at a police station in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district, leaving one officer killed and hurting another.

On January 11, 2014 two female suicide bombers of Boko Haram killed at least four people in a bomb explosion in a north-eastern Nigerian market. A day earlier, a 10 year old girl had killed at least 20 people.

“I see the conscription and recruitment of women to be a significant problem,” says Rafia Zakariya. “Our society does not have many outlets for women and the consequence is that militancy is being wrongly understood as a form of ‘empowerment’. We saw that in the Uzma Qayyum case as well, where a girl trying to escape a forced marriage went into Jamia Hafsa.”

“An anti-crime society has to be developed to eliminate the menace of extremism, for which we need proactive families and education that involves ethics,” says Dr Burfat.

The writer is a Karachi based journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Originally Published in The Friday Times

Burden of proof

How will the PPP respond to corruption allegations in Karachi?

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An anti-terrorism court on Monday granted bail to Aamir Khan – an MQM leader picked up by Rangers in the predawn raid at the party’s headquarters in Karachi on March 11, along with 26 wanted suspects. According to the court, it was “due to faulty investigation into the allegations against him”.

Before he was handed over to police on June 4, Aamir Khan remained in the custody of the Rangers for 85 days. The Rangers can detain an individual for up to 90 days under the Protection of Pakistan Act of 2014.

Last week, the federal government led by the PML-N extended a similar power to the FIA. A day later, there were reports that the agency raided the house of Ali Hasan Zardari, a close relative of Asif Ali Zardari, in Ghulam Haider Shah Colony in Nawabshah, and seized seven ambulances that were given to the district administration to assist flood victims. It was a joint operation by NAB Sindh and the FIA. The ambulances were being used as passenger vans, said the reports.

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The ambulances were being used as passenger vans

Amid criticism that the law-enforcement operation in Karachi was targeting the MQM and the PPP, Rangers and NAB have expanded their operations. “Some senior officers of security and intelligence agencies have also been picked up for their role in the crime economy,” says Imtiaz Khan Faran, a veteran journalist who covers political and security issues.

On June 23, the Rangers issued ‘criminal profiles’ of eight workers of Sunni Tehreek – a largely Urdu speaking Barelvi group – detained during a midnight raid on at their central secretariat in Karachi on June 17.

According to Maj Sabtain – the spokesman of the Rangers – a total of 11 men were arrested during the raid, of which eight are wanted for murder, and the rest are accused of serious offenses, including extortion and street crimes.

But unlike the raid on MQM headquarters Nine Zero – where a central leader of the party was detained for sheltering criminals – Sunni Tehreek leaders Sarwat Ejaz Qadri and Shahid Ghori were allowed to go after “brief interrogation”.

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NAB too is now probing cases involving leaders of PML-Q and PML-F, the latter a coalition partner in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s federal government. According to reports, the bureau has questioned Kamran Tessori, a central leader of the PML-F, and former Sindh minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who is now part of the PML-N.

Imtiaz Khan Faran is skeptical. Many politicians and bureaucrats will get plea bargains, he says. Some are relatives of NAB officials.

But NAB’s recent action against former military officers, especially Brig Amjad, brother of former army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, dispels that notion.

“Over 2,000 corruption inquiries are pending in the Sindh region for the last fifteen years. Islamabad has directed the regional office to complete them in weeks,” said a NAB official, asking not to be named because he is not allowed to speak to reporters.

After Asif Zardari’s recent tirade against the army backfired, the PPP has now devised a counter-strategy, analysts say, which includes fighting NAB in the courts. They will be encouraged by the release of Aamir Khan.

On June 16, Sindh High Court granted bail to Syed Ali Mardan Shah, the provincial population welfare minister, who is facing a NAB inquiry for misuse of power and embezzlement of public funds. Former minister of education Pir Mazharul Haq, information secretary Zulfiqar Shahlwani, and Mansoor Rajput have also secured pre-arrest bails.

Shams Keerio – a local journalist who has been covering the Sindh government for two decades –

says the PPP has decided to ask Zamir Ghumro, Mardan Shah’s counsel, to help its leaders as an independent lawyer. Ghumro is known to be a critic of the PPP.

Rangers can detain an individual for up to 90 days

On June 18, NAB arrested Sehwan Sharif town municipal officer Sajawal Mumtaz Zardari, and three town officers – Zahoor Ahmed Shahani, Rehmatullah Mamon and Engineer Idrees on charges of corruption. The next day, a court handed them over to NAB for another 14 days, on a remand. The men were reported to be close to the PPP.

Also on June 18, Rangers detained Fishermen Cooperative Society vice president Sultan Qamar Siddiqui. He was produced in a court on June 19, where the Rangers said he would be detained for 90 days. According to unverified reports in the media, he told interrogators that he carried out extortion on behalf of the PPP.

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Reports on June 19 also said the FIA had stopped Zardari’s brother-in-law and Sindh education secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho from leaving the country. The same evening, Syed Owais Muzaffar, a close aide of the former president, was stopped at Karachi airport and questioned for 36 minutes before being allowed to go to London via Dubai.

Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur also left for Dubai earlier this month. Speculation had just begun in the media before Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who had accompanied his father to Dubai, returned to Karachi on June 26. Insiders say the former president will also return soon.

In an unexpected move, Sindh Local Governments Minister Sharjeel Memon suspended 37 town municipal officers on June 30, on charges of corruption. He had issued show-cause notices to 109 TMOs in September last year, asking them to provide audit details of their funds. Thirty-seven of them did not respond. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has ordered corruption cases against them.

The move signals that while the party is ready to battle it out with law-enforcement agencies in court, it realizes it needs to show resolve against corruption.

The writer is a freelance journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Published in The Friday Times

IS versus Taliban

Is the growing influence of Islamic State in Afghanistan a threat to Taliban and Al Qaeda?

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Although it is far from becoming a significant force in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Islamic State (IS) has started to worry the Afghan Taliban, Al Qaeda, and groups affiliated with them, insiders and analysts say.

On July 6, Hizb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar asked his militants to support the Islamic State in its fight against Taliban – his old rivals who formed a government in Kabul by throwing out the Afghan Mujahedeen, including himself. That is the latest in a series of bad news for Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Hizb-e-Islami, which has claimed several terrorist acts in Afghanistan, including an attack on a team of aid workers in the Badakhshan province in 2010 and a bomb explosion targeting a pair of US military vehicles in 2013 – was in contact with IS for long, sources in Peshawar say. The distribution of IS leaflets in Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar last year was believed to be the handiwork of Hizb-e-Islami, although the group’s leaders had rejected the allegation.

Many Afghans see the IS as foreigners

The organization led by the former Afghan prime minister has thousands of active fighters in Afghanistan and it is likely to help IS recruit and establish a base in the region, say analysts closely watching the activities of one of the oldest Jihadi group of the region.

Background interviews with locals suggest that a ‘threatening letter’ from Afghan Taliban – who want to be named the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – was also a sign of fears about the IS that persist among the Taliban ranks. Zubair Babakarkhail, a Kabul based journalist, agrees that the letter demonstrates the very high degree of concern.

“Taliban have declared 2015 the year of their ultimate victory, and they are now faced with a new problem in shape of the IS, which is threatening to make their decade-long efforts futile,”says Babakarkhail, who has been interacting with local Taliban commanders for his journalistic assignments.

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“Initially, the Afghan Taliban’s policy was to ignore the IS and not give them too much importance,” says Hasan Abdullah, an Islamabad based security analyst. But later, they felt that the IS was trying to create friction, polarize the jihadis, and instigate a rebellion against the leadership of Mullah Umar.”

The letter, addressed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from Al-Haj Mullah Akhtar Mansoor – the deputy of Mullah Umar – was written on June 16, and has underscored the importance of unity among jihadis, which according to the Taliban leadership could be maintained only if both the groups continued to work in their own areas of influence – Afghanistan, and the Arab world.

“It seems that through the letter, the Taliban have tried to gain a high moral ground while trying to contain IS at the same time,” says Abdullah.

The IS has warned the Taliban commanders to join them or get ready to be killed

To many, the letter is more than a threat from the Taliban to the Iraq and Syria based terrorist outfit. They say it was aimed at making it clear that Taliban don’t subscribe to the IS viewpoint. They openly oppose its presence in the region, deeming it against the Jihadi cause.

Babrak Yousafzai, a journalist from the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, however gives little importance to the letter. He says it made very little impact on the IS, which issued on its website a retaliatory ‘warning’ to Taliban commanders to either join their Khorasan (Afghanistan) chapter, or get ready to be killed.

Babakarkhail sees IS a ‘not-so-distant’ threat to both the Afghan government and the Taliban.

According to a report published on June 30, fighting between Taliban and IS has spread across several districts in the Nangarhar province. In January, Maulana Abdul Rauf, an important Afghan Taliban commander from Helmond province, paid allegiance to Al Baghdadi.

The announcement was followed by severe fighting. By now, the IS has gained Helmond, Farah and Nangarhar, three of the Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

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On July 5, the militants of IS warned local farmers in the eastern Nangarhar province to stop cultivating opium. They also reportedly slapped some local smokers and those using ‘naswar’, a famous tobacco snuff consumed by Pashtuns around the world.

On January 27, on Pakistani side of the Durand Line, an important Pakistani Taliban leader, Hafiz Saeed Khan, announced his allegiance to Al Baghdadi and reportedly took charge as the emir of IS in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some disgruntled Taliban groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Mehmond chapter, and the former TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, also announced allegiance to the IS chief – a new claimant for the title Ameerul Momineen, which was previously claimed by Mullah Umar.

Before that, IS literature was distributed in the Afghan refugees camps of Shamshato and Jalozai in September last year. The leaflets, though published in the Mohallah Jangi area of the city, could not be distributed in the settled areas. Since one of the camps is considered the headquarters of Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami, it was believed that the IS might be enjoying the support of the group.

Among the prominent activities of IS was “wall chalking” in the Baloch belt of Balochistan province — an area with little or no Taliban and Al Qaeda influence. Two recent police statements indicate IS’ growing influence over the militants already associated with Al Qaeda.

Experts sy if the IS intends to launch itself in the region, then, like other militant organizations, would have to build a proper organizational structure, which they lack at present.

Al Qaeda too has announced a South Asia chapter, which analysts see as a reaction to IS activities in Pakistan. The IS is trying hard, and the support from the Hizb will help it organize itself in the region, one expert said.

But does is it in a position to become a real threat to the much larger Taliban and their allies?

“So far it seems that the IS does not have a very strong footprint in the region,” says Abdullah. “On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban are well organised and there is a strong alliance between them and Al Qaeda.” The IS has tried to assert its authority in parts of Afghanistan but so far it seems to be lacking the grassroots support enjoyed by Taliban and Al Qaeda, he says.

That is not their only problem. The IS might fail to have a strong foothold in Afghanistan, analysts say, because the its instructions to locals to stop cultivating opium – which serves as a key source of income for Afghans – will further hurt the support they have among the locals, if any.

In background interviews, many locals see the IS as a foreign group. According to Babrak, many in Afghanistan also believe that the IS enjoys the support of the US and some European countries.

The IS has turned out to be harsher with the people of the Shia community than the Taliban, forcing the Shia Hazaras in the southern districts to form an anti-IS alliance with Taliban.

The Afghans – most dominantly Hanafi Muslims – are also opposing the IS on the ground of their typical Wahabi ideology.

Unlike Afghanistan, recent disclosures reveal that the young people in Pakistan are attracted towards the IS. On July 1, a Karachi police official, Raja Umar Khattab, claimed that the suspects in the recent attack on Ismaili Shias and liberal activist Sabeen Mahmud – said to be associated with Al Qaeda in South Asia – were also inspired by the IS.

A day later, three suspects were arrested in Peshawar. Two of them, Asmatullah and Abdur Rehman, are Afghan nationals also inspired by the Islamic State.

The IS’ gains in Afghanistan and its influence over the young minds in Pakistan may not be an immediate threat to the militants already active in the region, but possible infighting between the rival groups fighters will certainly be a threat to peace in the region.

The writer is a freelance journalist

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Originally Published in The Friday Times 

Competitor resists IS foothold in Af-Pak region

Mullah Mansoor Dadullah - the Mullah Umar's deputy - has warned  IS against interfering in Afghanistan
Mullah Mansoor Dadullah – the Mullah Umar’s deputy – has warned IS against interfering in Afghanistan

KARACHI: The reports of growing inclination of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants towards Islamic State (IS) – also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Daish – have been endorsed by a warning Afghan Taliban had given to Abu-Bakr Al Baghdadi last month, says experts while pointing towards the disclosures that the suspects of Safoora carnage were inspired of IS.

The ‘threatening letter’ reinforces the belief that the IS’ ideology and activities are not only attracting educated youths from the West but the Af-Pak region as well, security experts believe.

Addressing a news conference a senior cop associated with Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Karachi police, Raja Umar Khattab, claimed on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 that the suspects in Safoora attack and Sabeen Mahmud case – who are said to be associated with South Asia branch of Al Qaeda, a global Jihadi organization that has made allegiance to spiritual leader of Afghan Taliban Mullah Muhammad Umar – are inspired by Islamic States’ activities.

A day later on Thursday, law enforcers arrested three militants in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province separated from Afghanistan through a thin belt of federal administered tribal areas, claiming that Asmatullah, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Ibrahim – the first two Afghan nationals were also inspired by the self-styled Islamic State.

IS, an Iraq and Syria based terrorist outfit, has mostly attracted educated youth of west and the suspects of Safoora carnage are graduates from the prestigious educational institutions like Institute of Business Administration (IBA), said an investigator, associated with investigations of the case on the condition of anonymity.

Security analysts believe that though it came in the wake of deadliest clashes between the fighters of Afghan Taliban and IS in parts of the Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, the content of the threatening letter from Afghan Taliban to its competitor, IS, is aimed at making its own IS-inclined militants clear of what the Taliban leadership believes.

In a letter, which is a mix of arguments, requests and threats, Afghan Taliban had warned leader of Islamic State (IS), Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, to stay out of Afghanistan, saying Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – known as Afghan Taliban – considers “activities insides Afghanistan with separate names and flags against Islam, Muslims and Jihadi rules”.

Intelligence sources said the ‘warning’ was a result of fears among Taliban ranks developed as a result of increasing ‘influence’ of the Islamic States in Jihadi circles of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The letter addressed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from Al-Hajj Mullah Akhtar Mansoor – deputy of Mullah Umar – and written on June 16, 2015 has underscored the importance of unity among Mujahedeen, which to Taliban leadership could be maintained only if both groups continue to work in their areas of influence.

The letter has further emphasized over the unity by arguing as how much the division of Mujahedeen in the post-Afghan Jihad and pre-Taliban Afghanistan had hurt the cause of Jihad.

“To take Jihad to its ultimate target is obligatory upon all Muslims, especially Mujahedeen. That’s why you should take care of unity with brothers of Islamic Emirates [Afghan Taliban] as per your religious obligation, help to strengthen them and not to show the intents that may results in inviting the anger of Mujahedeen leaders, religious scholars and thousands of Mujahedeen, which will deprive you of their love and affection”, the letter has warned.

“The Islamic Emirate will be compelled to show reaction for the defending the accomplishments it has achieved over decades”, the letter concludes with a warning.

The story was originally Published in The Frontier Post under the title Taliban resist growing influence of IS in Af-Pak region