Newspaper Articles Original Articles

Who is protecting Masood Azhar Deobandi and why?

Why is security establishment protecting Masood Azhar? 

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Read the story on BBC Urdu dot com

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/india/story/2008/12/081218_masood_pak_ka.shtml

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Militant leader ‘not in Pakistan’

Masood Azhar is one of the most wanted men in India

Pakistan’s top diplomat in India has said that the leader of a prominent Pakistan-based militant group is not being held in Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistan said it had arrested Masood Azhar, founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group.

Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, has now said Pakistan has no information about his whereabouts.

Mr Azhar is one of the most wanted men in India. He is on a list of people Delhi has demanded Pakistan hand over.

However, in an interview with an Indian TV channel, Mr Malik said: “We are looking for him. He is not under house arrest.”

“As far as I know [the report about Mr Azhar’s house arrest] is wrong. He is not in Pakistan. We don’t know where he is,” Mr Malik said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Defence Minister Mukhtar Ahmed said Mr Azhar had been placed under house arrest as a part of a crackdown following the attacks on Mumbai (Bombay).

Jaish-e-Mohammad is accused of taking part in the attack on India’s parliament in 2001, along with the group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which brought the two countries to the brink of war.

Confusion

Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said he had “yet to receive any report” of Masood Azhar’s detention, contradicting what his defence minister had said.

In 1999, Mr Azhar was freed from an Indian prison in exchange for passengers on a hijacked Indian Airlines jet.

He set up Jaish-e-Mohammad in early 2000, shortly after being set free by India.

In his TV interview, Mr Malik also said that Dawood Ibrahim, blamed for serial bombings in Mumbai in 1993 that left at least 250 dead, is “not in Pakistan”.

Mr Ibrahim also features in the list of 20 fugitives that India reportedly wants Pakistan to hand over.

Pakistan has held two militants of another Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, that India says was behind the deadly attacks in Mumbai.

Pakistan has been under intense pressure to act after the attacks, which left at least 170 people dead.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7789056.stm

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Read Masood Azhar’s biography at BBC Urdu dot com


http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/story/2008/12/081218_masood_profile.shtml

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Pakistan takes U-turn, says Masood Azhar not in its custody

Islamabad (PTI): Contradicting himself and his own cabinet colleague, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, one of India’s most wanted criminals, has not been arrested and is “still at large”.

“Maulana Masood Azhar is wanted by the government of Pakistan, but he is not in our custody and he is at large,” Qureshi told state-run APP news agency on Wednesday.

He said Pakistan has taken “enough steps” to arrest culprits involved in terrorist activities.

Qureshi’s remarks came barely an hour-and-half after he accepted the detention of Azhar while speaking to Dawn News channel a little after 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

He was asked several pointed questions on whether Azhar was among those who had been detained.

Qureshi replied: “Important people that were required have been taken into custody. They are under detention.” When the anchor asked again if these people included Azhar and whether he had been put under house arrest or was in custody, Qureshi said: “Yes, in custody.” Last week, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar told a TV channel that Azhar had been detained and Islamabad might even allow Indian investigators to question him.

The Pakistan media also reported Azhar’s detention at his home in Bahawalpur in Punjab province on December 9.

When reporters asked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on December 10 about the whereabouts of Azhar, he merely said he had not received the “latest report” on the case of the militant leader. He did not confirm or deny Azhar’s detention.

Azhar and two other terrorists were freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999.

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The Sipah-e-Sahaba factor: Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Sipah-e-Sahaba, all sponsored and promoted by Pakistan’s ISI

Varsha Bhosle

Here’s a bit from The News of October 19 that should warm the heart of every Atal Bihari Hajpayee devotee: “While addressing the Jehad Conference at Eid Gah Cantt, Maulana Masood Azhar asserted that affairs in occupied Kashmir had reached the point of no return and freedom fighters could not afford to drop their guns by way of a compromise. He again clarified that… Jaish-e-Muhammad believes in continuous jehad. He urged the Ulema to create a passion for jehad among Muslims in order to add force to the current efforts made by freedom fighters.”

And then: “The main event of the Conference was Dastar Bandi of Chairman Supreme Council Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Muhammad Ziaul Qasmi, by Masood Azhar to whom Qasmi also offered bait [sic]. ‘Now we go hand-in-hand, and Sipah-e-Sahaba stands shoulder to shoulder with Jaish-e-Muhammad in Jehad,’ said Azhar.”

Wunderbar. The Hajpayee-released bastard has enlisted the assistance of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a super-extremist Deoband-Wahabi Sunni set-up that targets Shia Muslims. SSP’s death squad, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, by its own admission, has conducted massacres of Shias at the sites of their religious congregations and killed Shia religious leaders, VIPs and commoners in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

The import of this news can’t be seen in isolation. It’s not just a matter of the umbrella group of Jaish-e-Muhammad (“Army of the Prophet,” founded by Masood post-release) adding SSP cadres to its ranks, which already contain remnants of the banned Harkat-ul-Ansar as well as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Umar Mujahideen, Al Fateh, Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-e-Jehad-Islami. It has to be examined in context of the overlapping stories of the SSP, Masood Azhar, Taliban and Gen Musharraf. See if you can fit the separate pieces together:

The SSP was born in 1982 in reaction to the Iranian Revolution and increased Shia militancy in Pakistan as the Saudi government began backing the Deobandi school of thought in retaliation to the Jafferia Shia discipline. The ultra-fanatic and virulently anti-Shia organisation has been campaigning for the proclamation of Pakistan as a Sunni State, and its death squad has murdered many Shia leaders in Pakistan, and actively assisted the Taliban in the massacre of the Shias of Bamiyan province in Afghanistan. In October 1997, Jang quoted Malik Ishaq, leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, arrested for the assassination of five Iranian technicians: “I have been instrumental in the killing of 102 human beings.”

The Taliban, too, is rabidly anti-Shia. In March 1999, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan detailed horrific massacres by the Taliban when they captured Mazar-e-Sharif: Between 4,000 to 5,000 Shias, including women, children and the elderly were killed after its supreme leader, Mullah Omar, issued a fatwa declaring that the killing of Shias was not a crime as they were kaffirs. Osama bin Laden, a Deobandi Saudi, is with the Taliban.

Masood Azhar, general secretary of the erstwhile Harkat-ul-Ansar, was a student of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, a sworn anti-Shia fanatic and founder of the SSP (he was killed in 1990 in Sunni-Shia clashes). After Masood was arrested in February 1994 in India, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen became powerful in (Paki) Punjab because SSP militants joined the org. With Masood’s reappearance (courtesy: the Indian prime minister), the Harkat split, with at least three-quarters of its J&K cadre, and the old SSP cadre, migrating to Masood’s new terror org, Jaish.

The split in Harkat finished Maulana Yusuf Ludhianavi, a vital figure in the Deobandi movement who was the spiritual guide to two key Deobandi leaders, Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islami and Maulana Azam Tariq of the SSP. The acolytes’ Deobandi connection with Mullah Omar, the Taliban Ameer-ul-Momineen, strengthened their presence in Pakistan, especially in Karachi where the Banun Masjid emerged as the centre of the Paki wing of Taliban. After Masood was escorted safely to Kandahar, he directly came to this masjid and announced his anti-India plans.

The Kargil Committee Report states that “Gen Musharraf himself served in Afghanistan and had ties with Osama bin Laden and other extremists… He had served in the Northern Areas for several years and had been associated with the crackdown on the Shias. He had commanded the SSG which launched an attack on Bilafond La in Siachen but was frustrated.” The Northern Areas, locally called Baltistan and Balawaristan, is inhabited by Shias; they do not enjoy the rights that Pakistani citizens elsewhere have.

On August 14, the Balawaristan National Front submitted a memorandum to the UN office in Islamabad, exposing the Paki game plan in Kargil (Gilgit, the nerve centre of the Northern Areas, is the headquarters of the Northern Light Infantry which led the intrusions). The BNF said the area was being choked by the army and the ISI; the citizens were treated like slaves and not allowed basic human, economic and cultural rights; the ISI was forcibly sending Balawari youths into India for terrorist activities; and, the Paki “occupation forces” used Shias as cannon fodder in Kargil. Note: During the Kargil conflict, the bodies of soldiers that Pakistan refused to accept from India were those of Balawari soldiers.

Classified intelligence reports warn that Masood has been listed by the ISI as the “real guiding force” of thousands of Kashmir-bound jehadis. Following his release, Masood became “quite popular” at the Pakistan Army HQ at Rawalpindi, and in Islamabad, the seat of the government and the headquarters of the ISI. Following the July “peace” overtures by the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the ISI is said to have “worked out a new strategy aimed at arranging quick and effective moral and material support” for Jaish-e-Mohammad, specifically meant to enhance its striking power. Also, Pakistan’s powerful mullah lobby has proclaimed Jaish as the “right weapon” against India (The Daily Excelsior, August 30).

In August, Masood told a gathering of armed militants in Peshawar his three “ambitions”: To have Jammu’s Kotbalwal jail blown up; to hoist Pakistani flags all over J&K; to see the “soldiers” of Jaish entrenched in all major cities and towns of India, particularly Delhi’s Red Fort. Then, documents recovered from Jaish’s 21-year-old Valley commander, Abdul Haseeb Khan, who was eliminated by the Indian Army in July, provide an insight into the agenda of the dork who was so hurriedly released by Hajpayee: Abdul’s diaries repeatedly mentioned a war against “kaffirs” and identified India as the “main source of polytheism that has to be captured” (Frontline, Vol 17, Issue 15).

Assimilated that much? (I know, those Mullahs and Harkats get confusing; maybe that’s why the PM couldn’t see beyond the Nobel.) But none of the preceding makes a point apart from that that Paki and Afghan Shias are targeted by Sunni militants; the terrorist groups creating havoc in Kashmir are led by incestuously tangled Sunnis; Musharraf has a dangerous anti-Shia history; Masood is the current darling of the military and the ISI; and, the conquest of Kashmir is not the sole aim of the Paki dogs — it’s India they want to lay waste.

But add to that these facts:

* The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (not to be confused with the Anjuman S-e-S), has been active only in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan; rarely, if ever, have its dorks entered J&K.

* Nearly 800,000 Kashmiri Muslims are Shias; together with Gujjars, Bakerwals, Dard and Balti Muslims, they form about half of J&K’s population. About 100,000 Shias live in different parts of Jammu region and an equal number in Kargil district of Ladakh. All these are totally indifferent to the separatist movement introduced in 1989.

* Ladakh is a sensitive and strategic area lying in the vicinity of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics. Any demographic change here could well extend the canvas of or even upset the delicate geo-political game in the neighbourhood.

* The areas of Drass, Kargil, Batalik, Suru Valley and Leh are predominantly Shia and Buddhist. Even before the last Kargil incursion (Pakistan had attacked Kargil town in 1997 and 1998, too), infiltrators never got local support since the Shias have no love lost for the Valley’s or Pakistan’s Sunni majority. It’s the Sunni element of J&K — including the leadership — that has a problem with India’s absolute sovereignty.

In the Indian Defence Review, Volume 14, Mr B Raman, director of the Institute For Topical Studies, when asked if it was possible for the ISI to spread insurgency to Kargil, replied: “Very difficult. Kargil is a predominantly Shia area. So is Gilgit. The Shias of Gilgit have for many years been fighting against the Sunni-dominated local administration. The Taliban of Afghanistan is a strongly anti-Shia organisation, which has been training the cadres of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which has been systematically eliminating the leaders of the Shia community in Pakistan. The Taliban itself massacred the Hazaras of Bamiyan in Afghanistan last year. Therefore, the Pakistan Army and the ISI using Afghan mercenaries to start an insurgency in the Kargil area doesn’t make sense.”

Perhaps. But what would happen if the SSP is enlisted to target and eliminate the Shias of Kargil…? So far, all the massacres in J&K were aimed at the ethnic cleansing of Hindus — which made refugees of Kashmiri Pandits, who left the Valley open to Sunnis. Ladakh, being a meeting point of various religions and cultures from ancient times, has evolved a secular and composite ethos; its Shias retain many characteristics of that ethos. What if they were to flee and leave Ladakh open…?

“Sipah-e-Sahaba stands shoulder to shoulder with Jaish-e-Muhammad in Jehad,” said Masood Azhar… Over 2 centuries ago, John Locke wrote that the chief role of government is to protect people’s lives and property from the transgressions of their neighbours. Can this government shield Shias from Jaish and SSP? Does protection mean visiting Pahalgam after the Yatri massacre? That responsibility, you see, is the Indian Army’s. And when the army captures to neutralise, the prime minister liberates to earn brownie points…

Vijendra Singh Jafa, former chief secretary of Assam and an authority on counter-insurgency, writes, “The history of insurgencies, militant movements, and of widespread and protracted terrorist activities in India over the past 50 years is, in some measure, a history of rulers, legislators, civil servants and intelligence agencies who went to bed at 10 o’clock and failed to notice the signals of impending disasters. The truth is that the process of governance in India are rendered nonfunctional by crippling conventions, the art of equivocation, recurring errors of judgement, innumerable intangibles such as personal attitudes, the politics of a particular point of view… and acts of omission and prevarication in the face of urgent imperatives for taking bold and *unpleasant* decisions. These have themselves created the conditions for, or have failed to thwart or neutralise, the trends towards terrorism and separatist insurgencies in the country.” I wonder to whom he’s referring…

I received many letters lauding Hajpayee for “enlisting US support against Pakistani terrorism.” I spat at that pervasive mommy-mommy-he’s-beating-me mindset. Those who consider America as The Saviour should remember that God helps those who help themselves. The downing of the Atlantique was a great show of force by the IAF, and that news was on the front pages across the world — with respect, however grudging. Those who believe that gunboat diplomacy and muscle flexing won’t take India far are better off in the chudiyaan business. Do leave defence to people of an unambiguous sex.

http://in.rediff.com/news/2000/oct/23varsha.htm
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The Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Taliban links

As part of its opposition to the US-Pakistan alliance against the erstwhile Taliban regime, the SSP joined other members of the Afghan Jehad Council on September 20, 2001 in announcing a Jehad against the US forces if they used Pakistani soil to carry out military attacks on the Taliban regime. The SSP leadership while criticising the Pakistani Government’s decision of extending support to the US-led air attacks on the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan also indicated that they would fight alongside the Taliban militia.
Links

In 1996, protesting against what they termed as the moderating nature of the organisations, the more radical and extremist elements of the SSP walked out of the outfit to form the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a sectarian terrorist outfit that was proscribed by President Pervez Musharraf on August 14, 2001. In contrast, the SSP has always retained an explicit political profile, contesting elections and having been a constituent of a Punjab coalition government. Despite SSP denials, the LeJ is widely considered to be the armed wing of the Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Many SSP cadres have received arms training from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and the erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The SSP is also reported to be closely linked to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit active in Jammu and Kashmir. Maulana Masood Azhar, JeM chief, speaking at a Jehad conference in October 2000 said, “now we go hand-in-hand, and Sipah-e-Sahaba stands shoulder to shoulder with Jaish-e-Muhammad in Jehad.”

The SSP draws support, inspiration and assistance from various political parties in Pakistan, primarily the Jamaat-e-Islam (JeI) and the Jamaat-Ulema-e-Islam (JuI). The JuI is associated with running a large number of Madrassas all over Pakistan from where recruits for the HuM, SSP and Taliban are provided.

The SSP reportedly receives significant funding from Saudi Arabia through wealthy private sources in Pakistan. Funds are also acquired from various sources, including Zakat and donations from various Sunni extremist groups. Other sources include donations through local Sunni organisations and trusts, Madrassas and study circles, and contributions by political groups. Most of the foreign funded Sunni Madrassas in Pakistan are reportedly controlled by the SSP.

The SSP has also been linked to Ramzi Ahmed Yousuf, an accused in the New York World Trade Centre bombing of February 1993, who was later captured by the US authorities in February 1995.

Areas of Operation

Towns like Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Jhang, Multan and Muzaffargarh are the SSP strongholds. The dynamic leadership of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi is reported to have popularised an anti-Shia campaign in their backyard, southern and western areas of Punjab.

The SSP has influence in all the four provinces of Pakistan and is considered to be the most powerful extremist group in the country. It has also succeeded in creating a political vote bank in the Punjab and North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The SSP has reportedly 500 offices and branches in all 34 districts of Punjab. It is also reported to have approximately 1,00,000 registered workers in Pakistan and 17 branches in foreign countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Canada and England.

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/terroristoutfits/Ssp.htm

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Maulana Azam Tariq 1962-2003

Maulana Azam Tariq, chief of the defunct Sipah Sahaba (renamed Millat Islamiya), has been shot down on the road to Islamabad. This was a death most foretold in the history of Pakistan. He had been attacked about 20 times in the past, narrowly escaping death in the 1997 bombing at the Lahore courts, which killed the then Sipah Sahaba chief Ziaur Rehman Farooqi. A number of cities have responded with fury to his death and there is a great fear of the cycle of sectarian revenge killings to resume. The death of Azam Tariq has come in the wake of the murder of five Shia employees of SUPARCO in Karachi on Saturday and two earlier Shia carnages in Quetta two months ago. The government seemed to ignore the real source of these evil deeds while declaring that the killings in Quetta could be the work of RAW. No one else thought so, including the Shia community of Quetta which actually named Sipah Sahaba and its aligned jihadi organisations as the killers.

Sectarian violence was not unknown in Pakistan but it was given its gory aspect by one Maulana Haq Nawaz of Jhang who cropped up in the early 1980s as a great ideological opponent of the Iranian Revolution. Helped by the proximity of his seminaries to the Arab hunting parties in Rahimyar Khan, he began what can be termed the most blatant campaign of abuse against Imam Khomeini. He was killed in 1990, after which his pupils struck down the Iranian consul in Lahore. The secret spread of the sectarian creed of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi can be fathomed from the deaths that followed: one more Iranian consul killed in Multan followed by a group of Iranian military trainees on deputation to Pakistan in Rawalpindi. Azam Tariq who was a young firebrand from a Karachi seminary had been chosen by Jhangvi to organise his overtly sectarian party demanding that the Shia community in Pakistan be declared non-Muslims.

After the murder of Iranian diplomats, Sipah Sahaba got its killers to form another group named Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and began publicly dissociating itself from it. No one really believed it, least of all the Shia victims of Quetta who clearly named Sipah Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad as the culprits. Maulana Azam Tariq always declared that his party was not linked to the Lashkar, but when the killer of the Iranian diplomat Sadiq Ganji was to be hanged he initiated an international campaign to get him pardoned. The Jaish connection was also never in doubt considering that the Jaish chief Masood Azhar too was a devotee of Maulana Jhangvi and served the master together with Azam Tariq. That the jihad in Kashmir and the second jihad in Afghanistan were planned and fought in partnership with Sipah Sahaba was proved when Masood Azhar, just out of the Indian jail, wanted to form a new militia with the name of Lashkar-e-Muhammad and was dissuaded from doing so by his ‘handlers’ because it sounded too much like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Finally, as Jaish-e-Muhammad, it emerged as a major fighting outfit in Held Kashmir with clear financial links to Osama bin Laden who sent Umar Sheikh down to help Jaish out after Masood Azhar’s movement in the country was restricted by the government in the wake of a spate of killing of Shia doctors in Karachi in 1997. Umar Sheikh is under death sentence for killing an American journalist, Daniel Pearl.

The people of Pakistan are not sectarian. Sectarianism exists among the clergy who write the most scurrilous books against each other, inciting their followers to resort to violence. Money from abroad has also played a part in what can be called a proxy war that has savaged Pakistan’s civil society. Politicians are to blame too, because they did not ban or at least disqualify from politics such an overtly sectarian organisation. Maulana Azam Tariq was elected twice to the National Assembly while his party was a partner in the not-too-reputable Wattoo government in 1993. That was the year of unprecedented violence against the Shias, which caused the formation of similar violent organisations from the other side of the sectarian divide. After all this, Azam Tariq was again elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1997. In the 2002 elections, while in jail, he was allowed to take part by the Election Commission ‘by mistake’ and the government is now in court against his election because his party had been ‘declared terrorist and banned’ by the UN Security Council. It developed that after his disputed election he distanced himself from his natural habitat, the MMA, and decided to support the Jamali government in the National Assembly. Had he been disqualified, his life could have been saved.

Maulana Azam Tariq fought his 2002 election from jail and won it. It is said that he did not join the MMA because the Shia leader Sajid Naqvi, his party also banned, was a member of it. Most probably the next leader will be Maulana Ali Sher Haideri as the last remaining pupil of the great sectarian cleric, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Will sectarian violence end now that its most powerful proponent has been done to death? Most observers who know the sectarian network in Pakistan will say no. A new cycle of murder and mayhem may in fact have begun now. A glimpse of it was seen on TV channels when thousands of Sipah followers [emanating from Lal Masjid] expressed their grief and anger at his death. Following his funeral in Islamabad on Tuesday, mobs went on the rampage setting fire to a mosque, cinema and petrol pumps.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_8-10-2003_pg3_1

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SIPAH-E-SAHABA PAKISTAN, LASHKAR-E-JHANGVI, BIN LADEN & RAMZI YOUSEF

by B. Raman

(This article is to be read in continuation of my earlier ones titled “The Terrorist Meteorites & the Pakistanisation of Al Qaeda” , at http://www.saag.org/papers5/paper480.html and “The Daniel Pearl Murder Case: Curiouser & Curiouser and Murkier & Murkier” http://www.saag.org/papers5/paper465.html )

The late Zia-ul-Haq’s perceived partiality towards the Deobandi sect of the majority Sunni community of Pakistan led to the formation on April 12-13,1979, of the Tehrik Nifaz Fiquah Jaffria (TNFJ—since re-named as the Tehrik Fiquah Jaffria–TFJ) by the Shias of Pakistan under the joint initiative of Mufti Jafar Hussain and Allama Syed Mohammad Rizvi with the Mufti elected as the first chief of the organisation. After its formation, it organised a huge demonstration of the Shias against Zia’s anti-Shia policies at Islamabad on July 6,1980, which is considered even today to have been the largest demonstration ever organised by the Shias against the military-intelligence establishment.

2. The rapid advance made by the organisation in rallying round the Shias of the country under its banner and reports of its contacts with the Iranian intelligence set off alarm bells in Pakistan, the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Zia regime was also alarmed by the sympathy of the Shias towards the Bhutto family, which was attributed by the military-intelligence establishment to the fact that Mrs. Nusrat Bhutto, the widow of the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, was a Shia of Iranian origin.

3. To counter the activities of the Shia organisation, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the blessings of the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, encouraged a group of Deobandi Muslim migrants (Mohajirs) from the districts of what constitute the Indian Punjab and Haryana of today to counter the activities of the TNFJ. Thus came into being the Ajuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (since re-named as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan–SSP) on September 6,1984, under the leadership of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, a semi-educated Khateeb who had his religious education in Darul Uloom, Kabirwala, and the Khairul madrasa of Multan in Pakistani Punjab.

4. The birth of Pakistan on August 14,1947, was preceded and accompanied by large-scale migration to what constitutes Pakistan of today of a large number of Muslims from the Indian provinces of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and the then united Punjab, which was subsequently bifurcated into the two existing States of Punjab and Haryana. Those, who migrated from UP and Bihar, consisted of Sunnis as well as Shias, with the more tolerant Barelvi sect of the Sunnis constituting the majority. They had a large proportion of educated Muslims, part of the elite of British India, who had served in the civilian bureaucracy of the Central and State Governments. Amongst the migrants were also a large number of workers from the cottage industries, manual workers etc. The proportion of military personnel and farm workers was small. A preponderant majority of the migrants went to Karachi, the first capital of independent Pakistan, and other urban centres of Sindh. They continue to call themselves till today as Mohajirs (migrants or refugees), speak Urdu, and do not identify themselves with the native inhabitants of Pakistan and their intolerant culture.

5. The migrants from the Indian Punjab and Haryana were largely Sunnis, with very few Shias. They belonged to the intolerant Deobandi sect, which has a close affinity with Wahabism of Saudi Arabia. Zia himself was a devout Deobandi and his family belonged to Jallandhur in Indian Punjab. The spread of education amongst the Sunni Muslims of Punjab and Haryana before 1947 was poor as compared to that amogst the migrants from UP and Bihar. These migrants, who spoke the same Punjabi and Seraiki languages as are spoken in Pakistani Punjab, had no difficulty in integrating themselves in Pakistan and did not consider or call themselves as Mohajirs. Before 1947, they were either serving in the Armed Forces or earning their livelihood by working as farm labourers.

6. Many of the landless labourers, who migrated to Pakistani Punjab, started working in the farms of Shia landlords in places such as Jhang, Multan etc. The exploitation of these Sunni migrants by the Shia landlords led to feelings of deep resentment against the latter. In his efforts to use these migrants to counter the TNFJ, Zia and his ISI transformed what was essentially an economic grievance against the Shias into sectarian hatred of the Shias. This marked the beginning of sectarian terrorism in Pakistan. Shia-Sunni sectarian differences leading often to violence existed even in the British days, but they assumed a virulent form under the military-intelligence administrations because of the exploitation of these differences by the army through the ISI for sustaining itself in power through a policy of divide and rule.

7. In pursuit of this policy of divide and rule, the ISI under Zia encouraged the Mohajirs of Sindh to form the Mohajir Quami Movement ( since re-named as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement–MQM) under Altaf Hussain in the 1980s in order to use it to counter the activities of the Sindudesh movement under the late G. M.Syed and the popularity of Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). When the MQM went out of the control of the ISI during the first term of Benazir as Prime Minister (1988-90), the late Gen. Asif Nawaz Janjua, as the then Corps Commander at Karachi, tried to weaken Altaf Hussain’s popularity amongst the Mohajirs by trying to create a divide between the Sunni and Shia migrants from UP and Bihar. When he did not succeed, he created a split between the migrants from UP, who remained solidly behind Altaf, and some sections of those from Bihar. Allured by the ISI and Asif Nawaz, these sections formed a splinter group called the MQM (Haqiqi–Real). The MQM (H), trained, armed and instigated by the ISI, indulged in widespread acts of violence against the followers of Altaf as well as against the Sindhi nationalists.

8. In Pakistani Punjab, after having created the SSP, Zia had its cadres trained, armed and inducted into Afghanistan, with the knowledge and possibly even the blessings of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight against the Soviet troops under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. Their interactions with bin Laden and his diehard Wahabism in the jehadi fields of Afghanistan added to their Deobandi extremism and irrationality. Amongst the jehadi organisations, which distinguished themselves against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan, the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) were the offspring of the SSP. So was the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), formed in 2000 through an ostensible split in the HUM. The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) has not so far come to notice for any nexus with the SSP.

9. The well-motivated and trained cadres of the SSP offered themselves as mercenaries not only to the ISI for its operations against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and against the Shias in Pakistan itself, but also to the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Iraq for their operations against the Islamic regime in Iran. They let themselves be used to create violence and instability in those areas of Iran adjoining the Balochistan province of Pakistan, which are inhabited by Sunni Balochis.

10. In 1988, the Iranian intelligence instigated the Shias of Gilgit in the Northern Areas, who constitute the largest sectarian group there, to rise in revolt and demand the creation of a separate province for the Shias to be called the Karakoram province. Pervez Musharraf, who was asked by Zia to put down this revolt, inducted bin Laden and his tribal hordes into Gilgit and they carried out a large-scale massacre of the Shias. Musharraf also encouraged the SSP of Punjab to open an office in Gilgit to rally round the Sunnis against the Shias. This marked the spread of sectarian terrorism, which till then was confined to Pakistani Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), to the Northern Areas too.

11. In Sindh, by 1994, the MQM under Altaf had re-established its ascendency, despite his being driven to exile by the ISI. Faced with the consequent weakening of the position of MQM(H), Musharraf, as the then Director-General of Military Operations in GHQ, had the SSP cadres from Punjab inducted into Sindh to re-inforce the position of MQM (H). The two (MQM(H) and the SSP) joined hands together and indulged in an orgy of violence directed against the Shia migrants from UP and Bihar, who had remained loyal to Altaf. Thus encouraged by the military-intelligence establishment, sectarian terrorism spread to Sindh too.

12. However, in 1996, the SSP underwent an ostensible split with a group led by Riaz Basra forming a separate anti-Shia organisation called the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ). Though the two have since been operating separately, Pakistani analysts call the split an eye-wash and describe the LJ as nothing but the militant wing of the SSP, to enable the latter to concentrate more on overground political activities.

13. Despite the growing sectarian divide in Pakistan due to the encouragement of sectarian activities by the military-intelligence establishment itself, Musharraf, after seizing power on October 12,1999, could not resist the temptation to continue to use the SSP and the LJ against the mainstream political parties. Having failed in his efforts to weaken the PPP by taking advantage of the exile of Benazir and faced with growing unity of action between Altaf Hussain’s MQM and sections of Sindhi nationalist elements, he reportedly constituted a secret task force in the ISI to break the PPP, the MQM and the Sindhi nationalists.

14. This task force encouraged not only religious political organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) of Maulana Fazlur Rahman etc, but also sectarian organisations such as the SSP and the LJ to strengthen their activities in Sindh. Over 200 Shias have been gunned down, including 30 doctors of Karachi, since Musharraf seized power. Under him, one saw in Pakistan for the first time sectarian violence inside the Sunni community itself between the Sunnis of the Deobandi faith belonging to the Sipah Sahaba and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Sunnis of the more tolerant Barelvi faith belonging to the Sunni Tehrik formed in the early 1990s to counter the growing Wahabi influence on Islam in Pakistan and the Almi Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat formed in 1998 by Pir Afzal Qadri of Mararian Sharif in Gujrat, Punjab, to counter the activities of the Deobandi Army of Islam headed by Gen.Mohammed Aziz, then Corps Commander, Lahore, and now Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and, in that capacity, made responsible by Musharraf for the operations against Al Qaeda in Pakistan—the surest way of making sure that the operations would fail. It was like making bin Laden responsible for the anti-Al Qaeda operations.

15. The Tanzeem has been criticising not only the Army of Islam for injecting what it considers the Wahabi poison into the Pakistan society, but also the army of the State headed by Musharraf for misleading the Sunni youth into joining the jehad against the Indian army in J & K and getting killed there in order to avoid the Pakistani army officers getting killed in the jehad for achieving its strategic objective. The ISI, which was afraid of a direct confrontation with the Barelvi organisations, started inciting the SSP and the LJ to counter their activities .

16. This led to frequent armed clashes between rival Sunni groups in Sindh, the most sensational of the incidents being the gunning down of Maulana Salim Qadri of the Sunni Tehrik and five of his followers in Karachi on May, 18, 2001, by the Sipah Sahaba, which led to a major break-down of law and order in certain areas of Karachi for some days.

SOURCE OF FUNDS AND ACTIVITIES

17. In a newsitem published on January 20,1995, the “Nation”, a daily newspaper of Pakistan, quoted a confidential report of the Home Department of Punjab as stating as follows: “(Under Zia), the Saudi Government started backing the Deobandi school of thought and, in the wake of the Afghan war, supplied funds and arms to the Deobandis. Indirectly, the USA and a few other Western countries also supported the SSP to counter the growing Shia and Iranian influence in this region. ”

18. Though the Home Department report did not refer to other Islamic countries supporting the SSP, it was in receipt of financial assistance from Iraq and Libya too. The Deobandi members of the Pakistani diaspora abroad are also important contributors of funds to the SSP. It is believed that in the non-Islamic world, the largest contributions have been from the Deobandi members of the Pakistani community in the UK, followed by those in the USA and Canada.

19. In the UK, the SSP has reportedly a branch in what is described as the the Mufti Mustafa madrasa, 11-13, St George Road, Forest Hill, London (Tel. No. 0181-471-2652). One Kadir Abbasi, who is stated to be the head of the UK branch, works in close cooperation with Maulvi Abdul Rehman Baba, leader of the Saudi backed ultra right wing Sunni organisation ‘Alami Majlis Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwwat’, which has its office at 35, Stockwell Green, London (Tel No. 0171-737-8199). While the SSP is believed to be working in the USA and possibly Canada too through the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), it is not known whether it has its own offices there.

20. Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi was assassinated on February 23, 1990, reportedly by Shia terrorists. Thereafter, Maulana Zia-ur Rehman Farooqi took over the leadership of the outfit. He was also killed in a bomb explosion in the Lahore Sessions Court on January 19, 1997. Maulana Azam Tariq succeeded him and has been leading it since then. Allama Ali Sher Ghazni is the Patron-in-Chief of the outfit. Maulana Zia-ul-Qasmi serves as the Chairman, Supreme Council. Other important SSP leaders are Qazi Mohammed Ahmed Rashidi, Mohammed Yousuf Mujahid, Tariq Madni, Muhammad Tayyab Qasim and Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi. It is reported to have approximately 3,000 – 6,000 trained activists

21. The SSP and the LJ hold Iran as the sponsor of the TFJ. Hence, whenever any major Sunni leader is assassinated, Iranians in Pakistan are targeted for retribution. The Iranian Counsel-General in Lahore, Sadeq Ganji, was killed in December 1990 in retribution for the February 1990 killing of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. In January 1997, the Iranian Cultural Centre in Lahore was attacked and set on fire, while in Multan seven persons were killed including an Iranian diplomat Muhammad Ali Rahimi, in retaliation for the death of Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi. In September 1997,five officers of the Iranian armed forces who were in Pakistan for training were killed by the SSP/LJ.

22. It was reported in October 2000 that the LJ had split into two factions with one faction headed by Riaz Basra and the other by the chief of the outfit’s Majlis-i-Shoora (Supreme Council), Qari Abdul Hai alias Qari Asadullah alias Talha. Qari Hai was Basras lieutenant and ran the latters training camp in Sarobi, Afghanistan, until the two fell out and formed their own respective factions. While the majority of Hais supporters are Karachi-based, Basras cadres have their roots in the Punjab. Earlier, on January 3,1999, Basra was allegedly involved in a terrorist incident in which a bridge on the Lahore-Raiwind road, close to Nawaz Sharif’s house, was blown up shortly before the then Prime Minister was due to pass by. Before this incident,the LJ, in a press release, had offered a reward of Pakistani Rs.135 million for anyone who would undertake the killing of Nawaz Sharief, Shabaz Sharief, his younger brother and the then Chief Minister of Punjab, and Mushahid Hussein, the then Information Minister. Pakistani media reports indicate that the active cadre strength of the LJ is approximately 300. Two of the LJs most important training centres were located at Muridke (Sheikhupura) and Kabirwal, in Khanewal district in Punjab. It also had a training camp in Afghanistan located near the Sarobi Dam, Kabul. The present status of the camp is not known. LJ cadres generally wear police uniform while carrying out their acts of terrorism.

SSP AND RAMZI YOUSEF

23. The Pakistani authorities arrested on February 7,1995,Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, one of the main suspects in the New York World Trade Centre explosion of February,1993, who had fled to Pakistan from the Philippines in January,1995, in an Islamabad guest house and handed him over to the FBI. A spokesman of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry denied that Ramzi was a Pakistani national and asserted that “his papers showed that he is an Iraqi national.”

24. This gave rise to the question as to whether Ramzi and his associates might have organised the New York World Trade Centre explosion, which coincided with the second anniversary of the end of the 1991 Gulf War, at the instance of the Iraqi intelligence, with the help of some local accomplices in New York. While the official agencies of Pakistan and the US could not collect any credible evidence to prove or disprove this suspicion, Ms. Laurie Mylorie, then of the Foreign Policy Research Institute of Philadelphia, made a detailed investigation into the nationality of Ramzi and a paper based on the results of her research were carried by the US journal “The National Interest” in its issue for Winter 1995/96.

25. While the enquiries into his real nationality after his arrest clearly established that he was a Balochi (Yemeni-Balochi?) of Pakistan, she came to the following conclusions on his possible links with Iraq:

* On September 1,1992, Ramzi arrived in the US with an Iraqi passport under the name Ramzi Ahmed Yousef without a US visa. He was granted temporary asylum pending an enquiry.
* On November 9,1992, he reported to the Jersey City Police that his name was Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim, a Pakistani national born and brought up in Kuwait, and that he had lost his passport. His report was recorded.

* Between December 3 and December 27,1992, he made a number of telephone calls to Balochistan. Several of them were conference calls to a few key numbers, a geographical plotting of which suggested that they were related to his probable escape route through Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan across the Arabian Sea to Oman, after which the telephone trail ended. After the New York World Trade Centre explosion, it was confirmed that he had fled from the USA through Pakistani Balochistan.

* On December 31,1992, he went to the Pakistani Consulate in New York and submitted a copy of the report recorded by the Jersey City Police about the loss of his passport along with xerox copies of his lost passport to show that he was a Pakistani national with the name Abdul Basit Mahmud Abdul Karim and applied for a new passport. The Consulate issued to him a temporary passport under this name with which he escaped from the USA after the explosion.

* The archives of the Kuwait Government did have the papers and finger-prints of one Abdul Basit Karim, a Pakistani national born in Kuwait, but without xerox copies of his passport. The archives also contained a note that Abdul Basit and his family had left Kuwait for Balochistan via Iraq and Iran on August 26,1990.

* After finding out that Ramzi had fled the USA after the explosion as Abdul Basit, a Pakistani national, the US Immigration sent his finger prints to the Kuwaiti authorities who confirmed that they tallied with the finger prints in their records.

* Thereafter, the US authorities presumed that Ramzi’s real name was Abdul Basit, that he entered the USA as Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, an Iraqi national, and fled after the explosion as Abdul Basit, a Pakistani national. For some reasons, which remained unclear, they chose to prosecute him as Ramzi Yousef and not as Abdul Basit.

26. After her research, Mylorie voiced the suspicion that Ramzi was probably an agent of the Iraqi intelligence which had prepared a legend for him by placing his finger prints in the the file of the real Abdul Basit when Kuwait was under Iraqi occupation. However, no satisfactory explanation was available as to how they allowed him to enter the USA with an Iraqi passport, which could have created suspicions of a nexus with Iraq. The Pakistani media has always been referring to Ramzi Yousef by that name and not by the name of Abdul Basit. They also always describe him as a person of Middle Eastern background.

27. The Pakistani daily “News” of March 27,1995, reported as follows: “Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20,1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad. The Iranian Government had earlier held the rebel Mujahideen Khalq group responsible for the explosion. Some analysts suspect Ramzi’s connection with the Mujahideen Khalq because of his Iraqi background.”

28. It added: “Independent reports suggested that in Moharrum last year (1994), Ramzi travelled to Iran via Turbat in Balochistan. Abdul Muqeem, another long-time resident of Karachi and identified as a brother of Ramzi, had also spoken about Ramzi’s involvement in the bomb blast at Mashhad. Ramzi is understood to have strong connections in the Pakistani and Iranian side of Balochistan.

29. “Abdul Shakoor shared with Ramzi, besides a Middle Eastern origin, some very strong anti-Shia feelings. Authorities said that Abdul Shakoor was also an active worker of SSP and, during his interrogation, Shakoor provided interesting details that showed that Ramzi also had some ties with that organisation.

30.” Last year (1994), Ramzi’s associates in Karachi were given the task to murder Maulana Salim Qadri, the chief of the Sunni Tehrik, an organisation of moderate Sunnis from the Barelvi school of thought. Several important chracters of the conspiracy were arrested in Karachi last week.

31. “Pakistani investigators are now sure of Ramzi’s ties with Sipah Sahaba. These ties flourished mostly in the military training camps inside Afghanistan designated for Arabs and Pakistanis. Orthodox Sunni religious schools in Pakistan serve as feeders for these military training camps. Besides Shakoor, investigators believed that Abdul Wahab, owner of Junaid Bakery in the Lyari area of Karachi and the unit in charge of the Sipah Sahaba in Chakiwarah, neighbourhood of Karachi, was another close associate of Ramzi. Raids to arrest Abdul Wahab in Karachi remained unsuccessful.

32.”Ramzi also ran a network of Saudi nationals committed to destabilising the royal family in that country. There is no evidence available to suggest that the Sipah Sahaba was in any way aware of Ramzi’s anti-kingdom operations inside Saudi Arabia. A nationwide hunt is currently on to trace Munir Madni, a suspected Saudi national and a resident of Bahadurabad in Karachi. Evidence confirmed that Ramzi, through Munir Madni, had established a front import-export company that used to get a gift of “Aabe Zam Zam” (holy water) from Saudi Arabia worth many millions of rupees. At one point last year (1994), the same front company generated about Rs.7 million by selling the holy water. The money was later used by Ramzi to finance Saudi extremist groups.

33. “A highly informed source connected with a large Pakistani Islamic organisation said in the middle of last year (1994) that a group of Saudis had visited Pakistan as the guest of that organisation and sought political and material support for their campaign inside the kingdom. The source said the group during that visit was provided apparatus and technical knowledge to install transmitters to relay radio broadcasts from a secret location inside Saudi Arabia. Several members of that Sunni group had participated in the Afghan jehad against the Communists.

34. “Officials said acts of violence committed by these groups inside Saudi Arabia are not known to the outside world. The official investigation has also revealed that dozens of Saudis committed to jehad all over the world have been visiting the military training camps inside Afghanistan. “These training camps are ideal places to rub shoulders with persons like Ramzi and to learn from his experience,” said an official who believed that Ramzi’s colleagues in Pakistan and Afghanistan were still busy in fuelling unrest in the kingdom.

35. “Sources estimated that at least 2,000 persons, mostly Pakistanis and Arabs of different nationalities, are currently engaged in military training in those camps for jehad in Kashmir and elsewhere in the world. These sources estimated that since the expulsion of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, at least 10,000 Pakistanis belonging to the Islamic parties such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Markaz Dawa Al Irshad and Jamiat Ulema Islam have acquired training in making bombs, hurling grenades, firing from light and heavy weapons and in laying mines.

36. “Abdul Shakoor, who himself was associated with a military training camp run by a Palestinian by the name of Abu Mahaz and a Pakistani named Commander Taslim near Kabul, stunned his interrogators by disclosing that his camp also provided training for hijacking. It was the first time that such a claim was made, but it was not confirmed independently,” the paper concluded.

37. Quoting Afzal Ali Shigri, the then Inspector-General of Police of Sindh, the “News” reported on April 4,1995: “Strong evidence is available for any independent scrutiny that the people involved in the most horrible cases of terrorism in Karachi were taking orders from top people in the SSP and MQM (H). Though no evidence has yet surfaced that would directly connect the Haqiqis with the terrorist outfit run by Ramzi, the disclosures unveiled a strong connection between SSP militants in the Lyari area and Ramzi’s associates.”

38. The “Nation” reported on April 15,1995, that the Pakistani authorities had placed Maulana Azam Tariq, the then deputy chief of the SSP who is now the chief, Afaq Ahmed, the head of the MQM (H), and Maulana Masood Azhar, then belonging to the Harkat-ul-Ansar and now the head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), on the exit control list following suspicion expressed by the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation that their followers were most probably responsibe for the murder of two members of the staff of the US Consulate in Karachi on March 8,1995,in retaliation for the arrest and transfer of Ramzi to the US by the Pakistani authorities in February, 1995. It also said that the organisations to which these three belonged had close links with Ramzi.

39. There was a massive explosion from a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber outside the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad on November 19,1995, killing 17 persons. The Pakistani authorities suspected that the explosion had been carried out by Egyptian associates of Ramzi to punish Egypt for its efforts to pressurise the Benazir Government to expel from Pakistan the Egyptian dregs of the Afghan war of the 1980s. Fifty-six persons were killed in another explosion by unidentified elements in Peshawar on December 21,1995, the responsibility for which could not be definitively established.

40. In 1996, cadres of the SSP/LJ, the LET, the HUJI and the HUM (then known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar), encouraged by the ISI, entered Afghanistan in their thousands to help the Taliban in its successful assault on Jalalabad and Kabul. After the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in September,1996, they stayed behind in Afghanistan to help the Taliban in its fight against the Northern Alliance. It was the SSP/LJ elements, which had joined the Taliban, which carried out the massacre of the Shias in the Hazara belt.

41. When bin Laden moved over to Afghanistan from the Sudan in 1996, he did not have to create a new terrorist infrastructure to help him in his operations against the US and Israel. A well-motivated and well-trained infrastructure already existed on the ground consisting of trained Arabs as well as Pakistanis and he took over their leadership. After he formed his International Islamic Front For Jehad Against the US and Israel in 1998, the Pakistani organisations—the HUM, the HUJI, the LET, the JEM and the SSP/LJ–joined it and fought against the Northern Alliance and then against the international coalition led by the US. Subsequently, after the collapse of the Taliban, this infrastructure moved over to Pakistan, along with the surviving leaders and cadres.

42. Following the death of Lal Mohammad alias Laloo, one of the most wanted LJ terrorists of Karachi in the first week of April,2002, the “News” reported as follows on April 8, 2002: ” Police said the “most wanted killer” also worked for one of the most violent Afghan-trained terrorist groups—Lashkar-e-Omar. The group, according to Interior Ministry sources, is also behind the attack on Islamabad’s church in which four foreigners and an unidentified person were killed, besides recent abortive attacks on several high profile personalities in Islamabad and Karachi.

43. “According to sources, Lashkar-e-Omar is a new group recently formed with the conglomeration of Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Whereas the group provides new cover for terrorist actions of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, it also includes several like-minded freelancers. Its operational area is Karachi. Sheikh Omar, who had kidnapped Daniel Pearl, was one of the instructors of this group back in Afghanistan.

44. ” According to police, almost 10 hardcore sectarian terrorists are on the loose in Karachi and are working for the Lashkar-e-Omar. They include Naeem Bukhari, Omar, Asif Ramzi and Qari Asad. Police analysts maintain that what makes Lashkar-e-Omar a serious threat is the fact that most of its activists are members of the same class and camp trained by Amjad Faruqi. Faruqi, a leader of the HUJI, is wanted by the US for his involvement in the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl,” the paper concluded.

45. On May 16,2002, the Karachi Police claimed to have recovered the remains of an unidentified dead body cut into 10 pieces, which were found buried in a nursery (Gulzare Hijri) on a plot of land in the outlying Gulshan-e-Maymar area of Karachi. They further claimed that the remains were recovered following a tip-off from a human source and that, according to the source, the remains were of Pearl. The local media also reported that there was an improvised shed on the plot where Pearl was suspected to have been held in captivity before his murder and that the plot belonged to Al Rashid Trust of Karachi. The results of the DNA and other forensic examination to determine whether the remains were really those of Pearl are still awaited.

46. Some years ago, Al Rashid Trust was floated and got registered by the ISI as a charitable organisation to receive funds from abroad and channel them to the Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as to the Pakistani Punjabi jehadi organisations in J & K. It is not clear as to who gave the information to the Karachi Police about the burial of these remains in a plot of land belonging to the Al Rashid Trust—-a human source as claimed by the Police or by some new suspects who have been picked up by the Police, but whose arrest has not been shown in Police records?

47. However, the “News” (May 23,2002) reported that the information about the remains was given to the Karachi Police by one Fazal Karim — a resident of Rahim Yar Khan and a father of five– who was in Police custody, but had not been shown as arrested. According to the paper,Fazal Karim had identified Lashkar-e- Jhangvi’s Naeem Bukhari as the ring leader of the group that also included “three Yemeni-Baluch” (father Yemeni and mother Baloch) who took part in Pearl’s kidnapping, his murder and disposal of his body parts. Naeem Bukhari is wanted by police in Punjab and Karachi in more than a dozen cases of anti-Shia killings. Fazal Karim reportedly confirmed Omar Sheikh’s role in planning Pearl’s kidnapping.

48.The “News” further reported as follows: “Fazal Karim has also revealed that major Pakistani cities may soon witness more suicidal attacks against the westerners and key government personalities, officials with direct knowledge about the interrogation of this new accused person in the Pearl case divulged here on Wednesday. Pakistani security officials believe that because of increased monitoring activities by the military services in the tribal areas, scores of the foreigners, earlier hiding there, have now moved with the help of their trusted Pakistani religious supporters to the populous urban centres, such as Karachi. “There are scores of Arabs and their Pakistani loyalists who are desperate to blow themselves up to settle score with the Americans and other westerners,” an official quoted Fazal Karim as saying. “These Arabs residing in various neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Karachi are on do-or-die missions,” he added. Fazal told his investigators, “Our Arab friends hosted us in Afghanistan when we were on the run, now it’s our turn to pay them back.”

49. “Giving more specific information about the new terrorist threat in Karachi, Fazal is believed to have disclosed that the Airport hotel near Karachi airport, where the western military personnel of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) were staying, had been selected by his group for a possible suicidal strike.

50. “Informed diplomats in Islamabad termed “a watershed” and “very dangerous” the evidence that previously friendly groups have merged operationally. Al-Qaeda signatures, not seen previously in Pakistan, were starkly visible in the recent attacks apparently carried out principally by the Pakistanis: detailed planning, western targets and, in the two attacks, suicide bombers, ” the paper concluded.

51. Intriguingly, on May 14,2002, two days before the recovery of the remains of a dead body, claimed to be that of Pearl, by the Karachi Police, the Punjab Police claimed that Riaz Basra, the long absconding leader of the LJ and three of his associates were killed in an encounter in a Punjab village when they had gone there to kill a Shia leader. Sections of the Pakistani media expressed doubts over the Police version and alleged that Riaz Basra was in the informal custody of a sensitive Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) since January,2002, without its taking any action against him and that the Police, now for reasons not clear, have shown him as having been killed in an encounter.

52. On May 19, 2002, Pakistani journalists received phone calls from a person identifying himself as Musa of Hezbullah Alami, claimimg responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, the grenade attack on an Islamabad church on March 17,2002, and the suicide bomb attack on the French experts in Karachi on May 8,2002. The person strongly criticised Musharraf’s pro-US policies and his co-operation with the US in its war against the Taliban and the Al Qaeda and reportedly hinted that the remains recovered by the Karachi Police were not those of Pearl. He also reportedly claimed that neither the HUJI nor the LJ had anything to do with Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. He also said that it was the Al Saiqua, the organisation to which reference had been made by this writer in his comments on the attack on the French experts available at www.saag.org, which had now renamed itself as Hezbullah Alami. No further details of this organisation are known.

53. The Pakistani media reported after the car bomb blast outside the US Consulate-General in Karachi on June 14, 2002, that two hardcore activists of the LJ— Akram Lahori and Attaur Rehman alias Naim Bukhari– had been picked up by the Karachi Police and informally detained for questioning and that they had confessed to their involvement in the blast. The “News” reported on June 27, 2002, that both of them were subsequently taken to Punjab and on their pointation, a joint team of the Punjab police and the FBI conducted raids at several places and arrested dozens of activists of the SSP and the LJ. It also reported that before they were taken to Punjab, the Karachi Police recovered on the basis of the information given by them 134 new AK-47 rifles, dozens of rocket launchers, a large quantity of explosive material and other weapons.

54. On June 28, 2002, the Sindh Home Department announced offers of rewards amounting to Rs 17 million for anyone giving information leading to the arrest of eight terrorists of the LJ wanted in several terrorist cases. Two of them — Naveed-ul-Hussain and Shah Rib with Rs1.5 million and Rs 2 million head money — have been declared as being involved in the US Consulate bombing. The others wanted by the Police are: Asif Ramzi (Rs3 million head money), Abdur Rehman Sindhi (Rs1.5 million), Mohammad Faisal Bhatti, alias Zubair Chishti (Rs3 million), Ata-ur-Rehman, alias Naeem Bokhari (Rs3 million) and two unknown men (each with Rs1.5 million as head money).

55. These developments have given rise to the following questions, which cast doubts on the sincerity of the Musharraf regime in its professed desire of wanting to eliminate terrorism of any kind from Pakistani territory:

* On August 14,2001, Musharraf, in the face of growing public criticism of his failure to control anti-Shia violence, had banned the LJ. On January 15, 2002, he had banned the SSP. The Government had claimed to have rounded up a large number of terrorists of these organisations. How is it that these organisations have still been able to continue their acts of terrorism undeterred by the action ostensibly taken by Musharraf against them?

* According to Omar Sheikh, he had voluntarily surrendered to a retired ISI officer on February 5, 2002, but he was shown as arrested by the Punjab Police on February 12, 2002, when Musharraf was in Washington DC. It has now come out that Riaz Basra was also with the ISI since around end-January/beginning February. Whereas Omar Sheikh was shown as arrested, Riaz Basra has been shown as killed in an encounter. Were both these incidents connected and what was their linkage with the Pearl case? The alleged encounter death of Riaz Basra has almost coincided with the new version put out by the Karachi Police about the involvement of the LJ in the murder of Pearl. Instead of interrogating him on this, why did the ISI choose to have him killed in an alleged encounter?

* The Pakistani media has been reporting for over a week that Naeem Bokhari is already in the custody of the Karachi Police and had given them information about the involvement of the LJ in the blast outside the US Consulate. Why has a reward been offered now for information that could lead to his arrest? Has he been eliminated or has he been allowed to escape? If so, why?

56. The US media (“Time”, of June 17, 2002) has recently been speculating about the role of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, described as an uncle of Ramzi, in orchestrating the September 11, 2001, terrorist strikes in the US. No information bearing on their relationship is as yet available.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail: corde@vsnl.com )

http://www.saag.org/common/uploaded_files/paper484.html

Al Qaeda Tied To Attacks in Pakistan Cities
Militants Joining Forces Against Western Targets

By Karl Vick and Kamran Khan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 30, 2002
washingtonpost.com

KARACHI, Pakistan — While the United States and its military allies continue to hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban foot soldiers in remote areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border, hundreds of al Qaeda operatives are living in Pakistan’s urban centers and have cooperated with local militants in several recent attacks, security sources said.

“Local and al Qaeda footprints have been found” in every major strike against so-called soft Western targets in Pakistan this year, said a senior Pakistani security official. Officials have connected al Qaeda to the kidnapping and murder of American newspaper reporter Daniel Pearl in January, a grenade attack on a church in Islamabad on March 17 that left two Americans and three others dead, and a car bombing May 8 outside a hotel in this southern port city that killed 14 people, including 11 French technicians.

In addition, raids by Pakistani and U.S. security agents have uncovered evidence that extensive al Qaeda operations are being planned and carried out from inside this country, a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism.

In late March, a raid by Pakistani police and FBI agents in the northeast city of Faisalabad resulted in the capture of Abu Zubaida, the highest-ranking al Qaeda operative to be apprehended since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. More than two dozen other al Qaeda members and a large number of computer disks were seized in the raid.

Here in Karachi, FBI agents accompanied Pakistani police on a raid Sunday night at a religious school, or madrassa, operated by Bangladeshis with suspected connections to al Qaeda. The raid was the first to involve FBI agents in Pakistan since Abu Zubaida’s arrest, and it too produced a trove of CD-ROMs and documents containing important al Qaeda information, sources said.

“So many linkages,” said Jameel Yusuf, whose Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, a quasi-official assistance group, participated in the probe into the Pearl kidnapping by tracing cell phone calls. “This really scares us.”

Investigators tracked every known call placed by men suspected of abducting Pearl, who disappeared in Karachi on Jan. 23. The calls were sorted by number, shaded in pastel and laid out on a matrix covering three oversized pages. In a corner of Page 2 are the 12 calls between one of the accused kidnappers, a rogue policeman named Sheik Adil, and an unidentified employee of the Al-Rashid Trust, an Islamic charity listed by the Bush administration as a source of funding for al Qaeda.

This month, the arrest of a Pakistani militant led to the discovery of remains believed to be Pearl’s that were buried five feet beneath a patch of earth owned by Al-Rashid.

Several security officials said that hundreds of al Qaeda operatives who fled Afghanistan have found refuge in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Their hosts, officials said, are Islamic militants who have joined forces with Osama bin Laden’s organization, and connections between Pakistani militants and the foreigners who make up al Qaeda stand to increase al Qaeda’s effectiveness. Pakistan’s Interior Ministry estimated this year that the “trained” members of just five of the country’s militant groups numbered 5,000.

“There are scores of Arabs and their Pakistani loyalists who are desperate to blow themselves up to settle scores with the Americans and other Westerners,” said a police official who had spoken to Fazal Karim, the militant who confessed to killing Pearl and led authorities to his grave.

The official quoted Karim as saying Arabs in several neighborhoods on the outskirts of Karachi “are on do-or-die missions. The foreign troops and other Westerners are their principal target.”

The association between Pakistanis and foreign militants dates to the 1980s, when this country served as a base for Islamic resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The U.S.-backed guerrilla war attracted fighters from throughout the Muslim world, most notably Arabs such as bin Laden.

The cooperation has continued even as the focus of jihad, or holy war, has shifted to the West. In fact, until Gen. Pervez Musharraf cut off Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia under U.S. pressure after Sept. 11, military intelligence officials routinely dispatched Pakistani militants to guerrilla camps in Afghanistan — many run by al Qaeda — for training. At the wedding of a son of bin Laden to a daughter of his then-deputy, Muhammad Atef, in January 2001, 100 of the guests were Pakistanis, who piled off three buses in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

“The alliance has always been there,” said a diplomat who has followed Islamic extremism closely on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border.

But what makes the current situation “very dangerous” and “a watershed,” the diplomat explained, is fresh evidence that Pakistani militant groups that worked independently — and toward differing goals — have coalesced around al Qaeda to combat the United States and its allies, especially Musharraf. Recent attacks carried out principally by Pakistanis show what officials call visible signs of al Qaeda involvement: detailed planning, Western targets and, in the two recent attacks, suicide bombers.

New incidents underscore the threat almost daily. Three men arrested for firing rockets toward the air base used by U.S. troops outside the southern Pakistan city of Jacobabad last week were identified in local press reports as members of Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, a banned Sunni Muslim group that previously had attacked Pakistani Shiites, not Westerners.

The Pearl kidnapping offers the best glimpse into Pakistan’s changing underground by clearly illustrating a working alliance between Pakistani Islamic groups that formerly were merely friendly with one another.

The crime was conceived as a warning to the Pakistani government “that our country shouldn’t be catering to America’s needs,” according to a courtroom outburst by Sheik Omar Saeed, who is accused of organizing Pearl’s abduction.

Saeed, who served five years in an Indian prison for kidnapping Westerners there, is a prominent member of Jaish-i-Muhammad, one of several Pakistani groups focused on waging war to drive India out of Kashmir, the Muslim-majority region claimed by both India and Pakistan. Now banned but historically supported by Pakistan’s government, such jihadi groups send guerrillas from Pakistan’s part of Kashmir into India’s portion on such raids as the one May 14 that led to the deaths of 34 people and brought the nuclear-armed neighbors to the brink of their fourth war.

But while Saeed boasted of — then disavowed — plotting Pearl’s kidnapping, authorities long have suspected that the journalist was actually guarded and executed by a second group. Karim, the man who directed police to Pearl’s alleged remains, identified the leader of that “operational” cell as Naeem Bukhari, a prominent member of another extremist organization, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Unlike Jaish, Lashkar was never about sending guerrillas into Kashmir. Its obsession was sectarian — terrorizing members of Pakistan’s Shiite Muslim minority, and it boasted of assassinating scores of them in recent years. Yet like Jaish’s operatives, many of Lashkar’s members found refuge in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

To outsiders, the first sign that the sectarians were working with Jaish came when the suspects named in the May 2000 killing of a Shiite physician, Sibtain Dosa, were identified as bodyguards of Masood Azhar, Jaish’s founder and a onetime cellmate of Saeed’s.

But the extent of the alliance did not emerge until the Pearl case broke open, in two pieces — both of which contained links to al Qaeda.

Saeed, during a week in the secret custody of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency in early February, told of being trained in an al Qaeda camp in Khost, Afghanistan, and boasted of having met bin Laden early in 2001, according to police familiar with the interrogation. A source close to the Pearl investigation said U.S. investigators consider the boast credible. Given his English birth and his record at the London School of Economics, he would have been a prize asset to al Qaeda.

Adil, the rogue policeman, told interrogators that he was among the thousands of Pakistanis who crossed into Afghanistan last fall to defend the Taliban against U.S. attack. He said an instructor in the training camp he attended outside Kabul later turned up as a key organizer in the Pearl kidnapping.

That leader, who may be Lashkar’s Bukhari but whom investigators know only by the pseudonym “Farooqi,” shared his Karachi living quarters with Arabs, authorities said. Police sources said Karim, the Lashkar activist who claims to have killed Pearl, also was frequently seen with “friends” identified as Arabs.

“Never before have we received so many reports about Arabs being seen in the company of local jihadi elements,” said a senior official in Karachi’s elite Special Branch police.

The al Qaeda transplants were smuggled in by locals, according to security sources and others, and many were moved through the so-called tribal areas along the Afghan border, a region to which numerous calls from Pearl’s kidnappers were placed.

An Islamabad professional, raised in the tribal area of South Waziristan, said several hundred al Qaeda fighters have sought shelter in the area in recent months, a figure that jibes with U.S. intelligence estimates.

“The least people feel they must do is smuggle them out to settled areas,” the professional said, adding that a favorite method was including the foreigners in wedding caravans to Karachi, a city of 14 million.

Officials said they see a connection between the al Qaeda fugitives’ skills in bomb-making and assassination and the recent church and bus bombings. And Pakistani officials have quoted French intelligence sources as anticipating another terrorist strike inside Pakistan within weeks.

“My sense is that the recent terrorism cases are just the trailer of the movie we may see in the future,” said one former Pakistani intelligence official.

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