ISLAMABAD: Police claimed to have killed an alleged terrorist suspected for involvement in multiple attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and other cities.
Zaheer Ahmed Awan, police claimed, was involved in the suicide attack on the son of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He also had a part to play in the attacks on three brigadiers of Pakistan Army in Islamabad during 2009.
A terrorist attacks on Nato supply trucks in Islamabad during June 2010 is also attributed to Awan, as well as an attack on Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Tahir Alam Khan, police were tipped off that Awan was in an auto workshop of G-8 Markaz. He and his accomplices were getting his car, Daewoo Racer IDG 8891, fixed.
When Saddar police disguised in civil clothes tried to arrest them, they started running and opened fire. “Awan was shot in the head when police returned fire,” claimed the SSP.
He said police personnel were also able to nab his accomplice Rana Zafar Iqbal, however their third accomplice managed to escape after deterring the police personnel with a hand grenade.
Awan died on his way to the hospital. Police said his accomplice Iqbal revealed their hideout in Islamabad where they had also dumped a huge cache of arms and ammunition including rocket fuses, hand grenades, remote controlled devices and silencers.
SSP Khan said that Awan and his accomplices had planned to kill Interior Minister Rehman Malik at the Peoples Secretariat in G-6 on the birthday of President Asif Ali Zardari. The minister had narrowly escaped the assassination because he changed his schedule by a few minutes.
“Awan was a proclaimed offender and two cases of attempted murder were registered against him in Aabpara Police Station Islamabad and Iqbal Town Lahore,” police said.
He had been an active member of Shabab-e-Mili Islamabad, the youth wing of Jamaat-e-Islami and later joined a terrorist group.
SSP Khan said that Awan had been living in his G-10/1 house since 2007. He had dumped guns and ammunition in huge quantity in the upper portion of the house while his wife and four children were living on the ground floor.
He was the son-in-law of Abdur Razzaq, a retired deputy secretary in the Foreign Office of Pakistan.
Razzaq also told journalists that he had suspected Awan of suspicious activity. He maintained that his family was not aware of his terrorist activities.
“He had been a student of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) and claimed to be in the stone crushing business when he married my daughter some 12 years ago,” said Razzaq.
Awan was also friends with Nanu Goriya, the infamous dacoit from Gujranwala who was killed in a police encounter during 2009. Khan did not reveal the name of the terrorist group Awan was associated with however sources told The Express Tribune that Awan was an active member of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) a banned religious outfit.
“He had been associated with Shabab-e-Mili for a good 8-10 years before joining Jaish-e-Muhammad. He had received militant training in Afghanistan,” said a police official.
Some members of Shabab-e-milli claimed that Awan was not killed by police. “We are not aware of his activities. He might be a terrorist but he was not killed by the police,” said Chaudhry Sajid, a former president of Shabab-e-Mili Islamabad.
SSP Khan said interrogations from the arrested terrorist were underway and results would be revealed on Thursday by senior police officers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2010.