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


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


Rangers’ luncheon for police offers ‘trust building’ in menu 


KARACHI: Saturday was a good day for the dwellers of seaside metropolis when chiefs of two law enforcement agencies – The Rangers and Police – met at luncheon along with their officials.

The Rangers’ luncheon for police – concluded with permit for police to investigate suspects in Rangers’ custody – would be an ordinary event had the past relationship of both law enforcement agencies not publically known.

From Rangers raid of Mominabad police station and both offices Counter Terrorism Departments in garden and civil lines to their complaints against each others in apex committee meetings and the open expression of mistrust in courts, the Rangers, police relationship could never be termed good.

However, both police officials and independent analysts now believe that granting of permission to police to interrogate suspects in rangers’ custody will produce good results as police have good experience in translating proofs into better prosecution.

“That’s step towards very close coordination,” Feroz Shah, Deputy Inspector General of Police, West Zone, who was one of the invitees, said in his short comment.

However, Kashif Farooqi, a Karachi based crime reporter and analyst, says that SOPs of such investigations, which are still to be decided, will show the productivity of such facility for police.

Farooqi informs that Police are already part of the JITs, formed for almost all suspects who have been given into the 90-days preventative detention of Rangers.

“The luncheon and then accepting police’s request are itself good gestures from the Rangers head, which will certainly evade the mistrust we have witnessed in the last few years”, Farooqi opines.

The luncheon from Director General of Sindh Rangers, Major General Bilal Akber, was attended by Karachi Police Chief, Additional IG Mushtaq Mehar, Deputy Inspector General’s of Karachi police and other senior officials of both law enforcement agencies.

Addressing the officers here at Rangers’ headquarters, DG Rangers said that the sacrifices of police force in operation against terrorists can never be forgotten.

During the meeting Karachi police Chief, Mushtaq Meher, requested Rangers’ DG to give police the permission to interrogate the suspects who are given into the 90-days detention of Rangers by courts. DG Rangers accepted the request by granting permission.

According to reports, chiefs of both law enforcement agencies also agreed on speeding up operation against the criminals. They also agreed to monitors the activities of raw agents more rigorously.

It is pertinent to recall that Amir Khan, an MQM leader arrested in the Nine Zero raid last year, was granted bail because of what a judge called “weak prosecution”. The Rangers had detained him for 90 days, but could find solid evidence against him.

According to reports submitted in the Apex Committee meeting, 80 percent of those challaned in the court by the Rangers had either been freed by the courts or were out on bails.

According to security analysts, the 90-day detentions of suspects by Rangers do not always translate to strong interrogation, investigation or prosecution. “The new development will certainly overcome the lacunas of both the forces,” they believe.

While Rangers are important in dealing with all sort of criminals free of political and other pressures, the police’s expertise of prosecution in combine with Rangers’ efforts will produced good results.

Published in The Frontier Post

A Lokhandwala? Mastermind of AbbasTown carnage killed after arrest

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

Taliban in Karachi: Exaggerated number yet miscalculated threat


Naimat Khan

Security agencies’ Inability to coup with threat & misinformation and disagreements among the anti-Taliban forces are extra weapons of perilous TTP

KARACHI: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has now declared a war on ANP, MQM and other forces which, it says, come in their way to impose an “Islamic political system”. The TTP spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan was quoted as saying Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) are their prime targets. He said targeted war had been waged against the two in the city.

It was the recent shooting of MQM lawmaker-Manzar Imam, who was killed in Orangi last month- that brought two arch rivals closer, and thus bringing the issue of Taliban’s growing influence in the city to limelight. “We (The ANP and the MQM) are political rivals, but we stand united against extremism and terrorism”, said ANP leader Basheer Jan, who himself had survived two assassination attempts in Karachi, during the funeral prayers of Imam.

Previously, there was much hullabaloo from their prime target, ANP but the voice gained strength when another secular and ethnic party found a place at Taliban hit list following Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a warning to target MQM after the later announced to hold a nationwide referendum asking people whether they wanted Quaid’s Pakistan or Taliban’s Pakistan. MQM’s referendum scheduled for 14 November 2012 was later postponed in respect for the upcoming Moharram-ul-Harram.

A well known analyst, Dr Rashid Ahmad Khan while representing the other view point wrote a piece in an English daily, stating that by holding the Taliban responsible for the worsening law and order situation in Karachi, the ruling parties were in fact hiding their failure to capture criminals.

One may disagree as who share most of the responsibility of the present lawlessness in the city- political parties and other local criminal elements or the infiltrated Taliban militants-the threat of Taliban can be seen looming over the city. Especially, when Taliban themselves declare it a battleground for attacking two parties, including MQM, the largest political entity of the city and second largest in the province.

Numbers and Threat:

Although, the presence of Taliban in the city can hardly be denied by anyone, their existence in term of physical strength had always been exaggerated, told a Karachi based security and terrorism expert AW Khan who claimed to have visited each and every street of the areas deemed as Taliban’s strongholds in the metropolis.

“There are around 1400 streets in SITE town alone, each with at least on criminal, all posing themselves as Taliban but the real Taliban are no more than 120”, he confidently stated, saying hundreds of groups comprising three to six criminals were carrying out activities in the name of Taliban. He, however, is affirmative that the presence of highly committed Jihadis, always ready to lend their lives for blowing many others, is not a minor threat to the security and peace of the city.

A high rank security official in Karachi, although, doesn’t agree with A.W. Khan, he also does not subscribe to the idea that 5000 Taliban militants have infiltrated into the city.

‘There are differences of opinion viz-a-viz Taliban number but one of the facts compelling all to forge a consensus is that the Taliban militants have overtaken the reign of terror previously held by militants with different identities, e.g. political, ethnic, sectarian and criminal. The Taliban nexus with Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the city intensifies the threat’, said source.

Signs of presence:

This scribe observed during days’ long visits of these areas that all CD shops and beauty salons were open while the life was in full swing in the areas dubbed as safe havens for Taliban. The only thing missing was the Red flags and ANP offices. But the ANP leader insisted the ANP flags had been full down long ago as a good gesture to normalize the charged atmosphere following ethnic tension in the city.

Further drawing a line between the real Taliban and fake Taliban, the security analyst AW Khan said that Taliban abduction for ransom had always been well calculated while the fake Taliban would kidnap every person making irrational demands.

Taliban were said to be involved in extortion, the only business flourishing in the city, but a Taliban militant, while talking to The Frontier Post refuted this and said they, instead, had been stopping the illegal business. “We distributed handwritten pamphlets with phone numbers for contact if somebody demands extortion money. A few people registered their complaints and we asked them to call the extortionists for collecting the money so that we may teach them the lesson”, he told and added that sensing Taliban’s involvement in the issue, the extortionists didn’t turn up.

Taliban had enormous presence in the city. He informed that after a merger between Hakimullah Mahsood, a hardliner and Waliur Rehman group which tried to avoid targeting Pakistani state, the Tehrik had gained momentum, claimed the Taliban militant who himself had joined the group a few month ago. He said, “Before joining Taliban, I was working in Jaish-e-Muhammad that I had joined in 2005”.

During interaction with Taliban militants, it emerged that the TTP didn’t intend to launch large scale terrorist activities instead the lethal group had prioritized targeted actions against ANP and MQM, both at the top of the hit list in Karachi.

Bashir Jan who gave 80 percent credit of crimes and lawlessness in the city to Taliban also accepted that many professional criminals had branded themselves Taliban for committing crimes.

He said there was clash between ANP, MQM, Sunni Tehreek and sectarian groups but it were Taliban who raised lawlessness to the present alarming level.

“There are no Taliban courts and no Taliban processions but Taliban are present”, said Jan and added that “Rehman Malik says there are no Taliban. Suppose he is right but he cannot deny the presence of terrorists in Karachi. We demand military operation against the terrorists whether Taliban or otherwise.”

He said the guns and murdering people had become a hobby of those private Jihadis recruited, trained and armed by our establishment. “They deem Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a way to Jannah. The terrorist is a terrorist, no matter he has beard or he wears pant”, he added.

Problem areas:

It is believed and reported that the Taliban militants are hiding in the Pashtoon dominated areas like Manghopir, Bhangi Para, PMR, Sultan Abad, Pakhtunabad, Kunwari colony, Mian Wali colony and Nusrat Bhutto colony of the central districts and Gadap, Sohrab Goth, Jhanjal Goth and Afghan Basti in district east. But Bashir Jan doesn’t fully agree with the claim.

“All top leadership of the TTP and its associate militant groups are Punjabis residing in the posh vicinities of the city including Gulshan-e-Iqbal”, Mr. Jan claimed, arguing since they held their meetings and did planning in the posh areas, they had chosen the slum areas, mostly Pashtoon dominated for operational activities.

Mr. Khan, a security and terrorism expert also endorses the view of Mr. Jan saying Taliban were not totally a Pashtoon problem. PPP Senator Taj Haider goes a step further and blames PML-N, especially CM Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif for allowing Taliban, to which he refers as Punjabi Taliban and their associate sectarian groups to make sanctuaries in Punjab.

“The most important question is from where do they come? Where are their sanctuaries and safe heavens? Both PML-N and Taliban are the remnants of Ziaism. He said Taliban are presently persuading a three steps line of action, “come, hit and leave” the city.

Media and Taliban:

 The media is blamed for glorifying Taliban and militancy but on the other hand the Taliban militants are ungrateful to media for what they call “misreporting the events and propaganda against TTP”. “They never point towards the killers in Liaquatabad and Gulistan-e-Jauhar where political parties are killing the people”, told a Taliban militant, adding, when explosive was found in a house inhabited by a Taliban militant, Sher Khan, media created an “explosive manufacturing factory” of it.


Threat weighed officially:

 SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam khan sees the TTP a great threat to the peace of Karachi in particular and stability of Pakistan in general. “They want to create chaos in order to capture the power for imposing their brand of Islam”. He said it is dreadfully perilous than any criminal and terror group operating in Karachi.

Eliminating Taliban:

 A security official in the city known for his daring handling of the local terrorists confirmed with the condition of not to be named that it was difficult, rather impossible to eliminate Taliban militants from the city.

“It is expected that the people making the world lone Super Power and its allies on run, will be defeated by the law enforcement agencies meant for maintaining law and order and not fighting wars”, he argued while rejecting the views of eliminating the menace with sheer force.

He said the TTP Karachi chapter has been divided into many small groups comprising 3 to 5 militants. “If we nab a militant, he doesn’t give us any clue to go after the high ranks due to his lack of knowledge about his own group”, he maintained.

Insisting that military operation is the only solution, the ANP Sindh leader Bashir Jan holds the constitution even allows a deputy commissioner to call in army in his district. The administration has not only failed but has become nonsensical. “The military operation and deweaponization is the only solution to the issue”, said Jan.

After the murder of its member Sindh Assembly, the MQM, while demanding the state machinery to mobilize to bring the culprits to book said, “We want to tell the terrorist that they cannot deter the MQM and its activists”.

Security apparatus, MQM and ANP, all three are divided as to how to deal with Taliban. On the other hand, Taliban groups have recently joined hands. In such a situation, to defeat the most dangerous Jihadi force in city would be nothing more than just a dream.

Publish on February 5, 2013