Counter-terror experts give no credence to LEJ-A claim of Quetta police academy assault

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Counter-terrorism experts have rejected Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Al-Almi’s claim of carrying out the Quetta police training academy attack, saying the banned outfit’s assertion meant for a mere re-branding.

The claim by Al-Almi, an offshoot of the LeJ – a Sunni sectarian outfit with its origins in Punjab – has not been established so far, says Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism official in Karachi, revealing that the claim by Afghanistan-based IS-Khurasan could be substantiated through evidences the outfit has provided with its claim on Tuesday. “Both organisations are, however, being operated from Afghanistan currently.”

Over 60 police cadets were killed when three heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the police training centre on the outskirt of the capital city of Balochistan on October 24.

Interestingly, both the proscribed groups, Islamic State and Al-Almi, claimed responsibility with the latter saying it was assisting the Khurasan branch of the Middle Eastern terrorist organisation. IG Frontier Corps Major-General Sher Afgun said calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the LeJ.

“We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan,” Afgun told reporters, adding, “The Al-Alami faction of LeJ was behind the attack.”

Read More: Elimination of Malik Ishaq no fatal blow to sectarian killings

The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency published the claim of responsibility, saying three IS fighters “used machine guns and grenades, and then blew up their explosive vests in the crowd”. A teenage attacker killed by security forces can be seen in IS media release, supporting the IS-Khurran’s claim.

“The calls may definitely be from Afghanistan as both the IS and LeJ Al-Almi are being operated from other side of the border,” the police official said. “Though LeJ and Al-Almi claimed the responsibility, the one IS-Khurasan with evidently true claim hasn’t mentioned any assistance from the sectarian outfit,” Khattab told The Frontier Post.

This is not the first terror act with multiple claims. In August, Quetta hospital was attacked that left 70 people, mostly lawyers, dead was claimed by the IS, and also by the banned Pakistani Taliban faction, Jamaatur Ahrar. However, according to Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, India’s premier spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was involved in the attack.

Though, Al-Alami earlier claimed responsibility for the targeted assassinations of four women of the Hazara Shia community in the provincial capital and the attack on a Shia Imambargah in Karachi, experts believe that the trend of attacking Shia community and law enforcement agencies by IS has emerged, without any role of the LeJ.

“Currently, several terrorist outfits, including IS, AQIS and TTP are found involved in sectarian-driven bloodletting,” the official said.

According to the police official, LeJ has the capability of target killing but it doesn’t seem to be capable of carrying out major terror attacks. “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed in 2004 by Abid Mehsud, a mastermind of Hasan Turabi murder, but the group has never excelled.”

Currently, Yousuf Mansoor is running the organisation from Afghanistan whereas its Sindh chapter’s head, Safdar alias Abu Sufian, who is also the outfit’s spokesperson, is admitting most of the terror acts to remain in the news for attracting youths with militant and sectarian tendencies.

“The organisation’s claims haven’t been verified,” Khattab told this scribe, adding that the group has been unable to establish its own camp inside Pakistan or Afghanistan and has been sending its members to camps of other terrorist outfits.

According to security experts, the Al-Alami’s mother organisation, LeJ, has almost become dysfunctional after two of its most notorious leaders, i.e. Malik Ishaq, the chief of the terror outfit, and Usman Saifullah Kurd, the head of its Balochistan chapter, were killed in encounters with law enforcers.

Moreover, Hafiz Naeem Bukhari, the head of LeJ’s Karachi chapter; Asif Chotu, the commander from southern Punjab, and Qari Ramzan Mengal, the Quetta-chapter head, are in jail.

Read More: Writing on the wall

Reports suggested that the killings and arrests of its top leadership have hampered LeJ’s operational capabilities and dented its organisational infrastructure. “LeJ has never claimed responsibility,” the official added.

Meanwhile, Balochistan government on Wednesday formed an investigation team to probe into the Quetta carnage. “The support of Punjab’s forensic agency will also be sought,” Deputy IG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema said. The team will visit the incident cite, speak to survivors and present its report soon, added Cheema.

Published in The Frontier Post

‘Death squads backed by Muslim neighbor operate in Karachi’

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KARACHI: As the Rangers’ led operation against political killers and terrorist outfits like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda has been successful, the law enforcers are facing hardship in dealing with at least one lawlessness factor due to religious resistance and sectarian leanings within police force, it has reliably been learnt.

A report by a sensitive agency, a copy of which is available with The Frontier Post, has cited “constant power struggle between various political, religious and sectarian segments of the society” as a core of Karachi problem. “The power struggle is essentially geared towards having control over the financial resources”.

“Land grabbing, china-cutting and control over water hydrants and lucrative contracts in industrial areas remains the core of such confrontations,” the report reads. According to intelligence agencies, the problem is compounded by corruption and collusion of Sindh police coupled with lacunas in criminal justice system which are effectively exploited by such mafias.

Read more:  Writing on the wall

As much has been done on this front, including effective operation against political killers, operation against TTP, Al Qaeda and IS-Inspired Jihadi network in the city’s suburbs, a problem is unresolved due to some factors, yet to be overcome, a source told this scribe. “The city is also the target of international intelligence agencies being a port city”.

According to report Karachi has been the recruitment base of Al-Qaeda traditionally. “The presence of vast number of Deobandi and Ahle-Hadith Madressahs provide a rich recruiting base for terrorist organizations”.

According to security sources, bringing Madressah registration laws is part of the efforts to overcome this issue. “But there is another issue, which is far from being addressed,” a law enforcement officer told on the condition of anonymity.

“The presence of large Shia majority in areas such as Abbas town, Jaffer-e-Tayyar Society Malir, Ancholi Rizvia, New Golimar, Shah Faisal provides an excellent operational area for Iranian intelligence to make inroads”, informs the report. Multiple Shia death squads operate in Karachi and due to significant presence of Shia officers in police and law enforcement agencies the operations against such death squads could hardly ever be successful, the report reads.

“Furthermore, being financially well off and being a well connected community any arrests of target killers in past met with immensely powerful street agitations,” according to the report, informing that the Shia death squads are cleverly operating under the garb of Shia NGOs such as Jaffria disaster cell (JDC), PYAM, OYAM and Baqiatullah.

According to the report, Majlis-e-Wihdat-ul Muslimeen (MWM), the new political face of Shia community in Pakistan – which has been contesting elections in Karachi – has also formed its own death squad.

“Target killing has been a rampant phenomenon in Karachi. MQM-A has been the prominent political party using target killing as its favored tool. Atleast 12 death squad teams operated in Karachi further assisted by sector target killer teams”.

According to report the intelligence based operations have seriously reduced MQMA’s death squads’ capabilities however there are other actors using the same tool with resilience. “MQMA started to face serious fissures within it due to its Shia members breaking away from MOMA towards MWM.

“Latest reports indicate that MWM has also created its own death squads”.

According to a report by  Samaa News channel , Police have revealed that a man recently arrested on the suspicion of target killing had been working as a translator for the neighboring country’s consul general.

The man, identified as Mehdi Moosvi, was arrested by police from Shadman Town area of Karachi.  “Officials claim the suspected hit-man, allegedly involved in sectarian killings and terrorism, has made shocking disclosures during the investigation”, news channel reported and added, “He [the accused] disclosed that he has worked as translator of a neighboring country’s consul general, and has also accompanied his country’s diplomat during meetings with former Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and other high officials”.

The accused has also worked in the cyber crime cell of FIA after he helped the agency’s deputy director Kamran Ata in recovering fake degrees. Prior his association Mehdi was officer in the Axact.  On May 21, 2016, this newspaper reported anti-IS graffiti in Shia neighborhoods of the city amid reports of several youths having joined the Assad’s battle against the Middle Eastern terrorist group, IS, in Syria.

“Thousands of Shia youths have left for Iraq and Syria from different parts of the country, including Karachi whereas anti-Islamic State (IS) sentiments are touching its highest edge in Shia neighborhoods of the seaside city,” a senior official told then on the condition of anonymity.  On other hands the experts told this scribe that the growing trend of anti-IS wall-walking in Shia vicinities indicated that the community had been exposed to recruitments by the groups who are sending youths to Syria and Iraq for anti-Daish fighting.

On May 2, 2016 Iran passed a law to grant citizenship to families of Pakistani ‘martyrs’ fighting in Syria and Iraq. It’s also pertinent to mention that an earlier report published in this newspaper informed that thousands of Pakistanis have left for Syria to fight alongwith Assad’s forces. In its letter on 13th August, 2014 National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) wrote to provincial governments that over 2000 Pakistani Shia students were studying in Madaris of Najaf, Iraq where they are “brainwashed and motivated against Sunni on sectarian line and Pakistani government for alleged killing of Shia in Pakistan.”

Tariq Habib, an Islamabad based journalist, told The Frontier Post in May 2016 that known faces of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who are being placed in fourth schedule, had been advised by leadership to leave for Syria via Balochistan.

“The Shia youth recruited under the banner of ‘Al-Zainabun’ and Sunni youth fighting alongwith Diash are sent to Syria and Iraq for three and seven months, respectively. If proper strategy wasn’t adopted to counter them the sectarian violence will break all past records of Pakistan,” Habib told.

77pc of target killing victims common citizens

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Killing in Karachi on sectarian grounds makes just over 3 percent of the total target killings in the portside city.

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Target killers in the seaside metropolis have mostly gunned down common citizens, reveals an official report obtained by The Frontier Post.

The report compiled by Sindh police has recorded the data of targeted killings that occurred during 2014 and the first quarter of the ongoing year. According to report most of those who have fallen prey to the city violence include 729 innocent citizens who make over 77 percent of the total killings.

The second highest number of victims is that of police personnel who are gunned down after short intervals, the report informs. The target killers have gunned down 130 policemen in 2014 and 13 during the first quarter of the ongoing year.

Interestingly, killings on sectarian grounds get exaggerated coverage in media but official record informs that only 10 Shia and 15 Sunnis were killed in 2014 whereas with additional quarter of the current year the number of both sects equaled as target killers shot down 6 Shia and one Sunni only in the ongoing year.

If one sums up both the killing of people from both sects are just over 3 percent of the total target killings in the portside city.

According to report four workers of Awami National Party (ANP), six members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), four workers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and two activists of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have also fallen prey to the violence in restive metropolis during the reported fifteen months period.

If one sums up the killings on political basis it makes less than two percent of the total city killings. According to report nine doctors, one professor, three polio and three media workers have also been killed in 2014 and 2015.

The terrorists have also killed six personnel of paramilitary Rangers, one PAF and one army personnel in Karachi during the reported period.

Two officials of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and National Highway Authority (NHA) were also killed in Karachi, the report states.

Originally Published here

A Lokhandwala? Mastermind of AbbasTown carnage killed after arrest

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Singam style SSP innocently says the deceased militant misled police

 

 

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The alleged mastermind of AbbasTown bombings, Aslam Mehsud, who was in the police custody, got killed during an encounter with militants in the Surjani town area of the city.

The police during investigation from the accused got information that a big terror plan was finalised and the militants were going to attack on a hospital in the heart of the city. On this, the police prepared a team and conducted a raid at the spot which was mentioned by the under-custody militant, Aslam Mehsud.

Talking to The Frontier Post, the police officials were unable to give satisfactory answer when asked as why a high profile militant involved in the bombings was taken to the spot without providing him proper security cover.

The SSP Crime Investigation Department (CID) Chaudhry Aslam Khan while talking to this scribe claimed that Mehsud was given the appropriate security of five police mobiles but as they approached towards the explosive-laden vehicle which he had spotted during the investigation, the militants opened fire on the police team in which Aslam Mehsud was killed while two cops were also seriously injured.

“He had told us about the location of car and not that the militants may also be there” the ‘innocent’ SPP told this scribe.

According to the reports, the CID police had conducted an operation in the Surjani town area late in Saturday night and claimed to have foiled a major bid of terror in the city. According to police, Taliban commander had told that the car stationed in Surjani was ready to target the AbbasiShaheedHospital to play havoc in the centre of the city.

He said other targets were MQM’s headquarters, Nine Zero and American consulate on MT Khan Road in the south of the coastal city.

A sub-inspector of police, Khalid Saeed, a head constable, Punnu Khan and the militant in custody came in the line of fire.

It may be mentioned that after arresting him along three of his accomplices a day before, the SSP CID had claimed the militant was not only the mastermind of the AbbasTown mayhem but also the commander of Taliban’s militant wing in Karachi.

It also pertinent to note that the Supreme Court had taken notice of the AbbasTown carnage but the killing of its mastermind due to police’s negligence may cease the further developments of the case.

 Published on April 15, 2013

 http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/5716/

4 Rangers perish in Karachi blast, Taliban claims responsibility

Naimat Khan
KARACHI: At least four Rangers personnel were killed and several others injured in a bomb blast which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed they carried out on Wednesday in Karachi.
According to reports, the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), planted close to the Rangers’ vehicle near the Bhittai Rangers Headquarters located in Korangi No. 5 area, went off which the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) officials said was detonated with remote control device.
Soon after the blast, rescue and emergency response teams reached the spot and shifted the injured to the Jinnah Hospital where Dr Seemi Jamali, in-charge of the emergency department confirmed four of the injured expired.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police, Tahir Naveed told media that seven people including two civilians were injured in the blast.
The vehicle of Rangers was completely destroyed in the blast which spread fear and panic among the local residents as shops and small businesses were reportedly shut after the incident.
Meantime, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Rangers force in Karachi. Speaking to media from an undisclosed location, outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the Rangers had been targeted because of their hostility towards Taliban.
The TTP spokesman said that the law enforcement agencies were protectors of secular rulers who had been following the agenda of outsiders.
Meanwhile, different political leaders condemned the attack on Rangers in the troubled metropolis. ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan and Sindh Chapter president senator Shahi Syed in a statement flayed the attack.
Chief of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain also strongly condemned the bomb attack on Rangers while expressing his grief and sorrow on the killing and wounding of Rangers personnel in the attack.
Hussain said that terrorists of banned outfits were targeting police and security forces in Karachi and they were bent upon destabilizing the country by unleashing terrorism. He said that he had been warning for a long time that Karachi was becoming a hotbed of terrorists of band outfits who were now attacking the personnel of police, Rangers, CID police, and other law-enforcing agencies besides common people.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned a blast near headquarters of rangers in Karachi and expressed heartfelt grief and sorrow over the Shahadat of rangers personnel in the cowardly terrorist act.
The President directed the authorities concerned to apprehend the culprits involved in the heinous crime and bring them to book besides submitting a report in this regard.
He also conveyed his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the victim families and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls.
The President also directed the authorities concerned to provide best medical treatment to the injured.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/3028/

Daniel Pearl Case; Rangers Arrest High Profile LeJ Man from Karachi

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The Rangers on Sunday arrested a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) leader, who had been reportedly involved in several high profile cases during a raid in the port city of Karachi.
 
The former president of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s (LeJ) Sindh chapter, Qari Abdul Hayee alias Asadullah, was allegedly involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl which got immense coverage in the international media. Subsequently, he was arrested in 2003 from Multan and implicated in the case with charges of planning and carrying out the kidnapping and murder of Pearl.
 
Hayee was also facing the charges of helping his accomplice, Riaz Basra, in fleeing from the Lahore Sessions Court in 1994.
 
After his arrest, the high profile LeJ leader was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
 
A black warrant had been issued in January, 1994 against Hayee for his involvement in the Shehr Sultan killings. Police investigations claimed that Hayee had thrown grenades on a Shia mosque in Sher Sultan and opened indiscriminate fire along with his two accomplices in the attack. About six people died in the incident and Sher Sultan police registered a case against the accused.
 
A bounty amounting to Rs2 million was announced for his arrest. 
 
Hayee was arrested and had been awarded the death sentence by the Dera Ghazi Khan Anti-Terrorism Court on six counts for killing six people in the Shehr Sultan attack.
Given internal differences, Qari had reportedly formed his own Qari Asad group.
 
Published on March 18, 2013

 

ANP faces threats in Karachi; Taliban compel ANP workers to Change loyalty, force closure of offices

 

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Naimat Khan(Afkar Affairs Exclusive)

 

KARACHI: Terming the unabated attacks on the houses and trade centers of Awami National Party’s (ANP) workers and party offices in the metropolis a very dismal state of affairs, the ANP Sindh has alleged certain political forces were doing the job in the name of an outlaw organization.

A statement issued here from Bacha Khan Markaz, Karachi on Friday further said the activists of outlaw organization were threatening ANP workers and leaders to leave their party and join a pro-terrorist party in the city.

The spokesman who did not name the political party and outlaw organization that was forcing the closure of party offices in the metropolis said “in some areas the persons claiming to be the activists of an outlaw organization are giving serious threats to the party leaders and workers, advising them to change their political loyalties”.

An ANP leader, however, on the condition of anonymity told The Frontier Post that by outlaw organization the party meant Taliban who were forcing the party to close its political business in the city.

It is pertinent to mention that several ANP leaders and workers including its Sindh General Secretary, Bashir Jan had been attacked by Taliban in the recent past. Mr. Jan has escaped two assassination attempts by the militant organization.

The party statement has, however, mentioned the most recent attack only. It says the party’s local leader Madeen Shah Afridi was attacked in Ittehad Town of Karachi twice during the last couple of days.

“Either the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are helpless or the terrorists are being patronized by very powerful forces” the spokesperson said who showed serious concerns over the closure of dozens of ANP offices “in the era of independent judiciary, free media and a democratically elected government”.

“It is very strange that for the first time in the country’s history the political workers are threatened to leave their party” he said, adding that if it was not enough they are also asked to join the parties supporting the militant organization.

“Why are we only being targeted?” asked the spokesperson, saying despite repeatedly reporting the incidents to police and officials of other law enforcement agencies and lodging complaints and  FIRs, the terrorists were freely roaming on the streets of the city.

The ANP spokesperson alleged that the hidden forces were considering ANP a threat to their evil designs. “The unabated attacks on our offices and leader do not seem to be stopped anywhere” he said, saying the threats couldn’t undermine the determination of its worker to fight for the rights of Pashtuns rather such acts give them further boasts.