KARACHI: Investigators have claimed a breakthrough by nabbing suspected militants from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, who were planning to target Shias ahead of Ashura.
In the first raid, the Crime Investigation Department’s (CID) SSP Omar Shahid and SSP Chaudhry Aslam apprehended six suspected Lashkar militants from the Shaheed graveyard in Pirabad with a huge cache of weapons, which included five Kalashnikovs, 25 kilogrammes of explosives, two T&T explosive blocks, four TT pistols, detonators, silencers and thousands of bullet rounds.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Shahid gave the names of the six “extremely dangerous” men: Qari Dawood Farooqi (son of Sufi Mohammad Zikria), Nafees Abbas (son of Mohammad Ahmed), Akramul Haq (son of Qadri Wali Haq), Mohammad Shahid (son of Mohammad Raheem), Mohammad Abdullah (son of Ghulam Murtaza) and Naushad alias Fawad. They were picked up with the help of information passed on by an intelligence agency. “They were planning to strike at nine prominent religious scholars and leaders of the Shia sect in the city just before Ashura,” said Shahid.
The men have been accused of being involved in target killings, especially those of Shia doctors. Police said that during interrogations the suspects confessed to their involvement in killing Dr Sibtain in Kharadar in 2000 and Dr Mohammad Irfan in July 2010. They also allegedly confessed to killing the handicapped president of the Sahara trust NGO, Jaffar Shah, apart from murdering several other people in the city, purely on the basis of their religious affiliation.
SSP Shahid told The Express Tribune that evidence of the Lashkar group’s collaboration with other militants had now become even stronger since one of the men caught, Mohammad Shahid, confessed to having links with the Tehreek-i-Taliban. The six men also collaborated closely with another Lashkar faction called the Waseem ‘Baroodi’ group.
These six men belonged to the Asif Ramzi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Ramzi was a notorious bomb-making expert, who was known for making many types of explosives, including letter bombs that were sent to senior police officials in the past. Before he was killed in 2003, he had conducted numerous sectarian killings in many parts of the country, including Karachi and the Punjab.
Police also say that he was the mastermind who hooked the Lashkar cadres up with the Harkatul Mujahideen al Almi group. “In fact, one of the nabbed militants, Nafees, is the brother of Ramzi’s righthand man, who died with him back in 2003,” explained Shahid.
The police officer added that during the raid some suspects had managed to escape. One of the fugitives, whose name is either Asim or Asif, is suspected to be a former member of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps unit. “It is because of this member that the well-trained militants had very good medical knowledge and many anesthetic-like medicines were also recovered from the group,” he said, adding that the medicines could be used either to treat wounded men or to knock out hostages during kidnapping-for-ransom operations.
When asked where the militants got their arms from, SSP Chaudhry Aslam said groups such as the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi manage not only from within the city but also from other provinces. “Getting sophisticated arms is not a problem for such groups,” he said, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, SSP Fayyaz Khan, who heads a separate unit with the CID, said a wanted Tehreek-i-Taliban militant called Iqbal alias Bajori (son of Shahzada Allakhail) was arrested from Manghopir with an illegal weapon. The suspect is believed to be part of the Taliban’s Faqeer Muhammad group and suspected of attacking security forces in Bajaur.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2010.