The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has detained the suspected ‘death squad’ chief of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), according to reports submitted by the civilian spy agency to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday.
The LeJ ‘death squad’ chief, Masoom Billah, was arrested after prolonged reconnaissance, the IB claimed in the investigation reports into the failed assassination attempt on Sindh High Court Justice Maqbool Baqar and kidnapping of a minor for a ransom of Rs50 million in Karachi.
Premier Nawaz was told that significant information was gleaned from Masoom Billah about the June 26 attack on Justice Maqbool Baqar that killed nine people and injured many more. Justice Baqar survived the blast with some injuries.
Billah told investigators that his group was planning more sectarian attacks in the country, according to the IB reports.
Following a briefing, the prime minister directed the IB officials to track down those who were supplying arms, bankrolling and providing logistical support to terrorist outfits in the country, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Express Tribune.
“Acting on actionable leads from sources, the IB Karachi and Sindh police carried out an operation and apprehended Billah from Afra Garden, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi,” claims the report.
It further claims that Billah’s arrest was a major breakthrough in the case as he was not only the plotter of the attack on Justice Baqar but was also the chief of the LeJ’s secret ‘death squad’. Billah reportedly told investigators that the attack was executed by LeJ activists Qari Bashir Ahmed Leghari and Asif Chautoo, while Attaur Rehman was head of the operation.
The report quoted Billah as saying that the LeJ was also plotting attacks against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) politicians for their sectarian affiliations.
Abducted girl recovered
The second IB report was about the recovery of a three-year-old Hindu girl, Mahi Suchdev, who was kidnapped from Valika Hospital, Karachi, for Rs50million ransom. It claimed that the IB in collaboration with the Anti-Violent Crime Cell and Citizens-Police Liaison Committee raided a hideout of the kidnappers in Neelam Colony, Clifton. Three kidnappers were killed in a shoot-out that followed the raid. The child was safely recovered. A CPLC member and five policemen were also injured in the firefight. One of the kidnappers was a cook in the house of the girl.
According to an official statement, the prime minister directed the IB to keep a vigilant eye on terrorists, their cohorts and other criminals. He also directed that the IB should reinforce its countrywide intelligence network by maintaining coordination with all other security agencies as well as provincial law-enforcers. Such an approach, he said, would help in maintaining law and order.
The premier issued the directives during a meeting with IB Director General Aftab Sultan and other senior officials who briefed him about the working of the Bureau, its strategy to thwart criminal activities with a special focus on nabbing terrorists and anti-state elements.
The prime minister also referred to the interior ministry’s briefing last week where he stressed that restoration of peace and elimination of terrorism should be the top priority.
The security agencies, including the IB, have to come up with effective intelligence to pre-empt terror attacks, he said. Now that provision of adequate funds has been assured to the law enforcement agencies, it is up to them to live up to the expectations of both the people and government.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.
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