By Salis bin Perwaiz
Karachi: Three terrorist outfits, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda, with their leaderships now based in Balochistan after their networks were shattered in Wazristan in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, are working together to carry out attacks in Karachi, an anti-terrorism official told The News on Sunday. After the Shikarpur bomb blast at an Eid prayers congregation in September, a would-be suicide bomber arrested by police in an injured condition was found to be affiliated with the TTP, which is working in collaboration with al-Qaeda.
The case was handed over to the Sindh Police’s counter-terrorism department’s Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group in-charge Raja Umer Khattab.
A letter was issued on the directives of IGP AD Khowaja regarding the transfer of the investigation of FIR No106/16 lodged under sections of possession of explosives, attempt to murder, police encounter and the Terrorism Act from Khanpur police station in Shikarpur district to the CTD Sindh.
Khattab, along with his subordinates, went to Shikarpur and took custody of the would-be bomber, Usman. He was produced before an anti-terrorism court which remanded him in CTD custody for 30 days.
Talking to The News, Khattab said the attack seemed to be a collective strike of the TTP and al-Qaeda as the Taliban’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had accepted responsibility for it.
He said Usman belonged to Afghanistan and was affiliated with the TTP Swat, Karachi chapter. The terrorist, who died in the attack, belonged to Bajaur Agency and operated under the code name Abdul Rehman. “He will be identified after DNA verification,” the official added.
Khattab said apart from the Shafiq Mengal group, al-Qaeda’s network also existed in the Wadh area of Balochistan. He said terrorists attempting to carry out attacks in Karachi were arriving from Afghanistan through Balochistan.
“The arrested terrorists have disclosed during interrogation that the LeJ, the TTP and al-Qaeda had formed a nexus with their leaderships based in Wadh, Balochistan,” Khattab added. “They are also involved in the recent killings in Karachi and other parts of Sindh.” The official said these terrorists were using different methods to enter Karachi from the bordering Mastung and JhalMagsi in Balochistan.
“Earlier, they used the regular means of transportation, but now because of the law-enforcement agencies’ high vigilance, they have changed their methods including using motorcycles to pass through hilly routes to first enter rural Sindh and then reach Karachi.”
Khattab said the crackdown on these banned organisations had disrupted their weapons and explosives supply line after which they were unable to prepare vehicle-based improvised explosive devices. “Now they are using motorcycles or suicide bombers.”
The official said the terrorists’ communication network was damaged because of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb and most of their leaders had fled to Afghanistan. “Now some of these organisations are present in small groups planning attacks and they will be arrested soon.”
To a query, Khattab said banned organisations were working together as it enabled them to provide shelter to each other in different parts of the country.
Attack claims: Khattab said it had become a norm for multiple terror outfits to claim one particular attack.
“Basically, these outfits need to show their presence and significance and claim attacks even if the perpetrator was some other group,” he added. Talking about the claims of (Daesh) ISIS on its website, he said some of them could be true and they might be extending their tentacles using local operatives.
“The false claims are also meant to the affect investigations, but we usually manage to ascertain which claim is true and which is not.”
To a query, Khattab said sectarian target killings would continue because religious differences had penetrated into the lower level.
“To bring an end to sectarian strife, it is necessary to stop hate speeches and the distribution of hate material including literature and CDs from markets to the lower level. It will take a long time to bring this under control.”courtesy The News.