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

isis

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

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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

77pc of target killing victims common citizens

target killing
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

Officials in LEAs have sectarian affiliations, report reveals

1918429991Naimat Khan

KARACHI: There are officials of the Law Enforcement Agencies who have sectarian leanings and affiliations, this startling and shocking revelation has been made in a report of Pakistani intelligence agencies, which have advised provinces not to post such officials on duty for security of the Moharram processions.

NACTA Letter“

“The officials of LEAs with visible sectarian leanings and affiliations may not be deputed for Moharram duties”” reads a NACTA letter to the provinces which also suggests several measures for ensuring peaceful culmination of the Moharram processions.

The authority in its letter dated 22 October 2014 has also expressed its fears of a clash in Pindi on 10th Moharram, instructing that to avoid such clashes religious seminaries in the capital’’s sister city, Karachi and other sensitive parts of the country should be closed from 5th to till 10 Moharram.

“Special security measures may be taken in and around Rawalpindi, particularly at Jamia Taleem-ul-Quran, Raja Bazaar in view of the likely observance of the anniversary of the killings in 2013 on 10th”, it stated.

The provincial homes offices have been advised to ensure strict security and proper sweeping of procession routes besides removing provocative wall chalking. A complete ban over the use of loudspeaker and ban over provocative speeches have also been advised.

Besides, the administrations of procession have also been advised to culminate the processions before 4pm in the daylight. Deputing police on rooftops, ensuring ban on pillion riding and installations of CCTV cameras in sensitive areas are also among the recommendations. The PEMRA has also been asked to ensure balanced reporting of the Moharram events by the news channel.

Meantime, the Sindh Home Secretary Dr Niaz Ali Abbas Friday expressed fears of terrorist attacks on Moharram processions in Karachi, which he said may be carried out through water tankers, oil tankers, ambulances and DCNG vans of Media.

This story was originally published here

Pakistan asks Provinces to monitor fundraising, media coverage of JuD, FIF

File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed
File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has asked all four provinces to closely monitor the fund raising activities and media coverage of Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its relief wing Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), highly reliable sources told The Frontier Post here on Friday.

According to details these directives have been issued by Islamabad after the proposal by foreign ministry to have a close eye over and control JUD and its activities was approved by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif, who wishes friendly relations with India.

Well informed sources said the federal national counter terrorism authority wrote a memo to the chief and home secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces on 11 September 2014, in which they were being asked to monitor the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation’s fundraising activities and its coverage on electronic and print media.

They have been asked to monitor the organization and subsequently control it while keeping in view the country’s new controversial anti terror law, the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA) 2014 and submit monthly report on the subject.

According to reports the Indian permanent representative to the UN wrote a letter to the Chair of the 1989 (Al-Qaida) Sanctions Committee on 17 of July 2014 wherein the chair was requested to take action in order to ensure strict compliance of the provisions of the UN sanction regime. The Indian mission with its application also provided the clippings of statements of Hafiz Saeed and news of FIF relief activities which it has carried out for the flood affectees of Balochistan.

The documentary proofs provided by Indian permanent mission also contain a CD of the interview of JuD’s Chief Hafiz Saeed to private news channel, wherein he had mentioned the human contribution his organization to the Kashmir cause. According to the ministry of foreign affairs Hafiz Saeed in the TV program, named Aik Din Geo Kay Saath, allegedly claimed that over 6 to 7 thousands LeT militants had been killed in Kashmir.

Sources said when pressure was put on Pakistan through the UN, the Pakistan’s foreign ministry’s UN section prepared proposal for having a check over the activities of JuD, its chief, Hafiz Saeed and sister organization, working for the relief in flood affected areas of Balochistan, Kashmir and other parts of the country.

Meantime, the ministry of foreign affairs also wrote to Interior Minister, Intelligence Bureau and Inter Services Intelligence but no response was received, sources said. In spite of receiving no response from the important institutions, the foreign ministry proceeded with its proposal, later approved by PM Nawaz, sources said while demanding complete anonymity.

Nevertheless, India’s basic intention of highlighting this issue, primarily based upon the statement given to media by Hafiz Saeed himself, was meant to convey to the Security Council committee that assets ban against JuD was not being implemented, the ministry maintained.

The foreign ministry held that due to the importance of the matter, it was incumbent upon the Government to control the activities of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) that may constitute violation of the 1267 sanctions regime.

Sources said the matter was submitted to the Prime Minister, who happily approved the proposal that the ministry of interior and ministry of information & broadcasting may, in consultation with the provincial governments, monitor the JuD’s fundraising activities and its coverage on electronic and print media keeping in view the PPA 2014, the country’s strict anti terror laws recently approved.

The news originally published here

Pakistani’s sectarian militancy goes beyond border, Reaches Iraq

1918429991

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: As Pakistan is witnessing a surge in sectarian violence, reports claim a neighboring country is found actively involved in fueling sectarianism by brainwashing thousand of poor Pakistani Shia students studying in Iraq.

Highly credible sources said over two thousands Pakistani students belonging to Shia sect of Muslims are studying in different seminaries in Najaf city of Iraq and the number is likely to increase manifold if the trend goes unchecked. Sources said that not only the neighboring country is brainwashing the students against Sunnis but it is also recruiting potential agents among them.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Islamabad dispatched a letter to Secretary Capital Administration, Islamabad, Secretaries religious affairs and foreign affairs, chairman HEC, home secretaries Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Balochistan, all provincial, capital police chiefs and IGP of AJ &K and Gilgit Baltistan on 13th of the last month, apprising them of off-putting development, which, the authority believes, will further split the religiously at odds Pakistani society.

“Over 2000 Pakistani Shia students are studying in Madaris of Najaf, Iraq, whose studies comprise 4-12 years”. Normally from Pakistan, the students go to Iraq on visit and Ziarat visas and then acquire admission in the Iraqi universities and Madaris, the report tells about the growing trend.

According to report, important of these Madaris, which are offering poor Pakistanis religious education with attractive financial packages, are Hawza Ilmiya Najaf Ashraf, headed by Ali al-Sistani and Hawza Ilmiyya Najaf headed by Ayatollah hafiz Bashir Hussain Najfi who is a Pakistani national.

According to reports another Madrassah at Najaf named Hawza Ilmiya Jamia-tul-Muntazar Najaf Ashraf is under construction which is being established by Allama Qazi Niaz Hussain Naqvi who is Mohtamim Ala Jamia Tu-Muntazar Lahore in Pakistan.

Officials in the authority say as heads of these Madaris, collectively called as Hawza-i-Ilmiya, Najaf Ashraf, are spiritually regarded very high by Shia all over the world and also acknowledged by Iraqi government they have the power to issue Iqama (resident permit) to any student.

Pakistani students mainly belong to poor family of Gilgit-Baltistan, KPK, Southern Punjab and Hazara Community (Balochistan) stated the report, adding instead of living jobless in Pakistan, they prefer to go for study in Iraq with families due to attractive financial packages starting from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 for them and family members, respectively.

“Iraqi/Iranian missions in Pakistan are actively attracting Shia student desirous of studding in their countries”. Besides promoting Shiite school of thought, the Iranian intelligence agencies of a neighboring country are also carrying out recruitments of potential agents, report claimed.

Moreover UNICEF and some INGOs in collaboration with Iraqi Government are also executing number of education projects/Madaris in Iraq, where local/foreign students of a sect are receiving religious education”, well informed sources said.
During their stay in Iraq, students are brainwashed and motivated against Sunnis on sectarian lines and against Pakistani government for alleged killing of Shiite in Pakistan said the report, adding the number of such Pakistani students is likely to increase further if this practice continues unchecked.

The authority has urged upon the government of Pakistan to evolve a joint mechanism with Iraqi Government for streamlining of selection of students, their visa, study period and stay in Iraq.

The national counter terrorism authority has also suggested that in order to maintain a databank of all such students, issuance of NOC by ministry of education and Higher Education Commission (HEC) for all types of religious education abroad should be made mandatory.

It has also been advised to federal ministry of foreign affairs to register students with Pakistani mission in respective countries for maintaining record of their stay and movement.

The authority believes that if Pakistani embassy in Iraq identifies and recommends the Madaris in Iraq which are considered suitable for religious education for Pakistani students, this will be of great help in controlling the growing menace of sectarianism which proves detrimental for Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan is also being advised to establish a Madaris Welfare Authority under ministry of interior to regularize religious studies abroad. The authority also wants Shia Wifaq-ul-Madaris to be taken on board to devise a mechanism under which only their certified students are offered admission in foreign Madaris (Jamias)/Universities.

The last point in advisory of the authority is the sharing of list of selected students, teachers and staff with intelligence agencies for vetting and security clearance from sectarian point of view.

(Edited Version of this news story has published here )

Two Thousand Pakistanis go Syria to fight along Assad’s forces: Report

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The country’s intelligence agencies have asked the federal and all four provincial governments to probe report that around 2,000 persons belonging to a specific sect have moved to Syria from Pakistan to fight alongside the Bashar al-Assad forces against the rebels, highly credible sources told here on Wednesday.

Previously, there had been reports that militants from Pakistan’s tribal areas, especially the foreigners belonging UK, Sweden and other European countries along with local Taliban had moved to the troubled country to fight alongside rebels against the Bashar Al-Assad regime.

The group of these militants is fighting both pro-Iran regimes of Iraq and Syria under the name of Tehreek-e-Taliban Syria which is now operating under the umbrella of SISI and Al-Nusrah groups.

However, these startling revelations have come to fore for the first time that the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad also gets militant assistance from Pakistan, the country witnessing sectarian divide for the last few decades.

Highly reliable sources in the provincial homes office told that to counter the rebellion forces, who want to overthrow regime and impose Shariah, the Syrian government with assistance of the neighboring country has recruited youths in Karachi and other parts of the country.

The intelligence agencies have warned the federal and provincial government to have a check over the activity and probe how they went to Syria.

According to sources the Pakistani Government is investigating these reports to unveil the forces responsible for raising this aide force for Syrian government.

According to the credible sources militant support, mostly youths of Karachi, is going to Syria via Iran, which is also being alleged for assisting them in order to help the country with which Iran enjoys the cordial relations.

According to sources the youths, belonging to a specific sect, have used both land routes through buses as well as having been traveled through air services to reach their destination to fight their sacred war.

It is pertinent to mention that last month Iran was alleged of recruiting Afghan refugees in Iran for helping the Syrian Government.

However, the Iranian government had refuted the allegation terming these baseless and ridicules.