Suicide bombers: Two reluctant ‘fundamentalists’ arrested with handler

Published: June 13, 2011

The suspects were found with 20 kilogrammes of explosives, two hand grenades, two TT pistols, 20 feet of detonating wire and 200 bullets. PHOTO: IRFAN ALI/EXPRESS

Young men tell tale of how fervour to preach landed them in a training camp. The suspects  were found with 20 kilogrammes of explosives, two hand grenades, two TT pistols, 20 feet of detonating wire and 200 bullets. PHOTO: IRFAN ALI/EXPRESS
KARACHI: 

Waqar and Arshad are going to sing like a canary. The two young men were so eager to talk that they even gave details of the tea they drank in Waziristan while the Taliban trained them as suicide bombers. And the Sindh Police’s Crime Investigation Department is going to lap it all up.

The significant arrests were declared at a press conference on Sunday by Anti-Extremism Cell chief Chaudhry Aslam. It was a big bust for Aslam as the young men will be a treasure trove of information into the Taliban network. They were found with 20 kilogrammes of explosives, two hand grenades, two TT pistols, 20 feet of detonating wire, 200 bullets and bombing equipment.

“What can I say about how big this was,” Aslam told The Express Tribune in his usual gruff manner. “By now everyone should have an idea how big this was. If you made a jacket with just 20kg of explosives, it would blow up your whole Express office building. At least 100 people would die — confirmed.”

Also significant for the police is that two names from this group have been linked to the deadly CID building bombing. So sensitive and important is the information that they can yield on the terrorist workings, that the arrested men will be given security.

Waqar Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Abdul Razzak, their handler, and Rashid Iqbal were swept up in a raid between Saturday and Sunday night in the graveyard in Frontier Colony. Some of their companions took off under cover of night.

Razzak has told interrogators that he was affiliated with the commander Wali Mehsud, who is a successor of Qari Hussain, a suicide bombings mastermind. He was tasked with roping in young men in Karachi and prepping them for suicide bombings and sectarian target killings. Kidnapping for ransom and robberies were also part of the deal.

In July 2009, he took six of them from Karachi to Waziristan. Four of them — Ibadullah, Arif, Abdul Qadeer and Hazrat Ali — were killed in a drone attack but while the injured Waqar and Arshad were sent back to Karachi for treatment.

In a way, Waqar and Arshad’s story is not a necessarily straightforward one. For one, they strangely admit to being “brainwashed” into going on a proselytising mission or tableegh with Razzak, who they met separately. The mere fact that they are acquiescing to this could be taken to indicate that they have not been entirely brainwashed. They also apologised to their families and the “nation” while discussing the details of what happened to them with The Express Tribune.

Twenty-two-year-old Waqar Ahmed is the youngest of seven children. His father used to work in a private company while his brothers worked at clinics and medical stores. After passing high school, he used to go Jamia Islamia Imdad Uloom where he met Razzak, who taught them through Quranic verses, CDs, literature and “forced” them to prepare for jihad. Razzak agreed that he and some others would go on tableegh.

“But my family did not agree, which is why I ran away from home to go,” he said. But he did not know at the time that Razzak had something entirely different in mind.

Razzak took him and five others to a bus stop at Sohrab Goth. They travelled to Miramshah, changed two buses and then reached Waziristan. By then, the boys figured out what Razzak wanted from them, but they felt that they had no choice but to obey. They spent about five days there — in the first three being indoctrinated and in the last two days training how to use an AK-47.

There were about 35 other young men there who were being trained for missions in different cities.

After Fajr prayers, they would jog and exercise and then get a cup of tea for breakfast. After that, more recitations, lectures would follow and at lunch there was sometimes rice and at other times vegetables. They would get one slice of bread at night. “And like this the whole day would go on,” said Waqar. They would do security duty at night. “When the drone attack happened Arshad and I were sitting and chatting,” he said. “Only we emerged alive, the rest died, the four who came with us.”

Then the details get sketchy. When the two men woke up, they didn’t know where they were but they were being treated. After a month’s treatment they were returned to Karachi where they’ve been ever since and have stayed indoors.

Eighteen-year-old Arshad Khan has no siblings. “My mother was pregnant when my father divorced her,” he said, adding that his mother brought him up at her mother’s house. Arshad met Razzak at the mosque near his house in Frontier Colony and was forced to go on tableegh. He then met Waqar on the bus ride to Waziristan.

“If you look at it, in a way, we got stuck when we reached there,” he explained. “There were mountains everywhere and some scattered houses where the terrorists lived or trained.” There was no escape it seemed to them. “None of us had the guts to ask them any questions,” he said. “We had no way out other than to do what they told us to.” They would tell them that the Pakistan Army is in cahoots with the US and by perpetrating the Swat, Bajaur and other operations, they cornered them into suicide bombings. “They would talk about paradise and the hoors to brainwash us.” Either way, brainwashed or not, these two young men have a lot of explaining to do.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • AK
    Jun 13, 2011 - 10:13AM

    Thus proved once again that drone strikes are efficient way of dealing….Recommend

  • vasan
    Jun 13, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Again and again, Pakistani police catches these would be bombers who confess to being trained for a suicide missions inside Pakistan, by these monster Talibans,Pak or AF variety and still Pakistan refuses to target the Taliban sanctuaries. Are these youngsters dispensable , Is Pak army afraid of blow back, Is the Pak army nothing but a sound and light show without any gallantry, IS Pak establishment complicit with them under the “Strategic depth and assets” theory??. It is all any one’s guess. But one thing is certain, for every 100 terrorists caught, even if one executes the plans, it is Pakistan which loses men and money. Then everything is swept under the carpet with the usual “Foreign hand thoery”, “RAW/MOSSAD/CIA conspiracy etc. I wonder how many backs the terrorists have. The Pak army keeps claiming to have broken the back already.Recommend

  • muhammad aamir akhtar
    Jun 13, 2011 - 12:14PM

    We all know that the islamic fascists recruit their new terrorists from all over pakistan.They have a ready supply line in the form of madrassas which are nothing but breeding grounds for future terrorits.time and again we have seen how the islamic terrorists came from madrassas ,were given shelter in madrassas,their weapons and suicide belts were hidden in madrassas.yet our weak and scared govt. does nothing ,it takes no action against madrassas.

    the saudis,iranians and other arab countries continue to fund and support the madrassas in our land,they fight their proxy wars on our soil,destroying our people.why is never this foreign funding condemned or even questioned?? why only NGO’s are taunted for getting western funding,atleast the NGO’s do good for this society whereas the saudis have spread nothing but religious hate,intolerance and bigotry in our country.

    when will our govt. realise that it has to take strict action against the madrassas,these islamic fanatics have already muredered over 35000 of our people yet we still continue to live in denial ,blaming everything on ‘yahodi,hindu or amreekan saazish”Recommend

  • Ihk
    Jun 13, 2011 - 12:33PM

    Whoever is doing all this in Pakistan wants instability in the region. And they have been quite successful uptil now.
    Also this situation has not come onto us overnight… years and years of deliberations and strategies has made this nightmare come true for us. Whoever it is, is the greatest enemy of Pakistan, of Islam, of humanity and of peace and may they rot in hell.
    God bless us all.Recommend

  • saher
    Jun 13, 2011 - 12:50PM

    Why is the tone so casual in this report? :SRecommend

  • Z. Akbar
    Jun 13, 2011 - 12:57PM

    And we aren’t operating in North Waziristan…….WHY?Recommend

  • arif khan
    Jun 13, 2011 - 1:25PM

    @Ihk:

    years of years of saudi and irani funding has made this nightmare possible.for how long will you people continue to live in denial? it is the islamic fanatics who are killing us,who are trying to take over our country and impose their barbaric medieval ideology on all of us.
    instead of living in paranoid conspiracy theories of ‘yahdo saazish,amreeki saazish” learn to recognise the monster that our own forces helped create and now the monster has turned on its creators and they don’t know how to handle it,to kill their baby or continue to tolerate its actions.Recommend

  • Husyn
    Jun 13, 2011 - 2:26PM

    In a decent state, the youngsters would eagerly share their memorable times in college or universities. Recommend

  • Abbas
    Jun 13, 2011 - 2:54PM

    2 straight outcomes, drone have been blessing in disguise. 4 to be bombers killed hence atleast 200 lives saved. secondly the above mentioned Jamia (and all other such jamias in our cities) whr Waqar met the guy should be bombed with the people who run it. Their is no point in arresting them as our useless legal system would release them in a month’s time. Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 13, 2011 - 4:45PM

    Police and Intelligence agencies are doing good work by arresting the would be terrorists but I am 100% sure they will be released maybe in a month or so as incompetent investigators and prosecutors will not provide any proof against the arrested and the judges who are also threatened by the Taliban will release them honorably as so many self confessed have been released till now.Recommend

  • Ihk
    Jun 13, 2011 - 5:25PM

    @arif khan:
    PLease read carefully what i have written then comment. I said ‘WHOEVER’.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Jun 13, 2011 - 10:07PM

    In my opinion three things are proven in this press conference, Number one, Waziristan is the hub of all terrorist activites, secondly terrorists are being killed in Drone attacks and thirdly Tableeghi Jama’t is also one of the platforms where terrorists start their journey. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jun 13, 2011 - 10:37PM

    I seem to have lost my scorecard — are the Taliban who run the suicide bomb schools considered “good” Taliban or “bad” Taliban? If a suicide bomb school is located in N. Waziristan does that make if off limits or is it OK to attack but only when the army says it’s convenient?Recommend

  • Bangash
    Jun 14, 2011 - 12:51AM

    More drone strikes please.Recommend

  • Ihk
    Jun 14, 2011 - 8:54AM

    I cannot believe you people are actually supporting the drone attacks!! Don’t you have the slightest idea how many of our OWN innocent civilians are collateral ‘sacrifices’ here and that too by foreign forces? Where’s your sense of integrity?
    You think death of few terrorists are more worth than lives of hundreds of innocent children and women?
    American forces and you people have one thing in common…. neither of you are in the position to emphatize with the victims. They control the drones comfortably from their bases and you enjoy the attacks confortably from your homes.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jun 15, 2011 - 12:19PM

    @Ihk:
    I agree with you 100%Recommend

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