ISLAMABAD: Security agencies are trying to dismantle a ‘multi-faceted’ communication network of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) but there has been little headway so far, a senior military official said months after some mid-ranked army officers were detained for alleged links with the banned organisation.
“Yes, we are at it… making efforts to dismantle whatever means they [HuT activists] are using to communicate with society and within the outfit,” the official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. “There has not been any major breakthrough yet.”
The official said that the organisation’s presence outside Pakistan was a key factor hindering the country’s spy agencies’ attempts to break links of HuT activists among themselves and with other people.
“It seems that the communication network is being operated from countries like the United Kingdom or some other European states where the outfit is not banned… that makes all the difference,” said the official in an apparent attempt to justify the so called ‘failure’.
The revelation came three months after Brigadier Ali Khan, a serving army officer, and some other unnamed personnel were detained for their alleged links with the HuT — an organisation that seeks to establish a caliphate in Pakistan by overthrowing the democratic government.
Subsequently, intelligence agencies launched a countrywide crackdown on HuT activists and some of its activists – allegedly the masterminds behind its ‘highly sophisticated cyber warfare’ – were picked up from different parts of the country.
The arrest last month of a telecom engineer, Osama Hanif, from Islamabad was part of the campaign to dismantle the organisation’s technological network that still operates freely without any hindrance. The official also confirmed that some of the arrests of HuT activists were linked to efforts to block its communication but refused to give the exact number.
The HuT uses many platforms on the internet, cellular phones and written materials to send their message across despite a ban on its activities.
“Had it been an easy task, Americans would have contained al Qaeda’s cyber jihad… they are still operating freely 10 years after the [9/11] attack,” he explained.
Laxity and incapability
But experts who have been monitoring extremist outfits’ rise and fall in Pakistan appear to be differing in opinion from the official version.
“Their [agencies] focus seems to be countering them through human intelligence… they need to concentrate on modern cyber techniques,” said security analyst Amir Rana, who runs the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), a think tank in Islamabad.
He, however, agreed that the fact that HuT was banned only by Pakistan and not the rest of the world aggravated the problem.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.
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