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‘Airport-like terrorism plot foiled’, 11 suspects held in Karachi

‘Airport-like terrorism plot foiled’, 11 suspects held in Karachi

KARACHI: Police on Thursday claimed to have foiled a “major terrorism plan” in Karachi after they arrested nearly a dozen suspected militants associated with the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) following an encounter that left a policeman wounded. They were planning a “deadly assault” like the June 2014 airport attack to occupy “key and sensitive government buildings”, officials said.

A huge quantity of explosive material and sophisticated weapons were also seized from them.

“The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the police on a tip-off by a security agency conducted a targeted raid in Ittehad Town and detained 11 suspects belonging to AQIS and the LJ,” said CTD-in-charge Ali Raza at a press conference in his office.

“They had been involved in targeted killings and terror incidents in Karachi during the past two years,” said the officer. They have been in hiding since last month and now they were regrouping when they were arrested.

The CTD official identified the held suspects as Mohammed Irshad, alias Zahid, and Qari Mohammed Hasan, both commanders of AQIS, and Qari Mohammed Akram, commander of the LJ.

“Qari Mohammed Hasan was in charge of the team which targeted people in Karachi,” said Ali Raza, adding that Mohammed Irhsad and Qari Mohammed Akram were in charge of the “terror teams” besides being involved in targeted killings and acts of terrorism during the last two years.

The other held suspects were identified as Maulana Abdul Wahab, Syed Mohammed Riaz Anwar, Mohsin Khan, Anas Ahmed, alias Ansi, Mohammed Hunzila Ashraf, Abdul Wakeel, Raghib and Awais, alias Kashi.

“During initial investigation, they confessed that they were planning a Karachi airport-like attack on an official building on Sharea Faisal,” said the officer, adding that they had done planning and reconnaissance for the purpose. Besides, they were planning terror attacks on senior officers of the district police and the CTD.

Meanwhile, CTD chief and additional inspector general of police Dr Sanaullah Abbasi told Dawn that the held militants had confessed to their involvement in 30 cases of targeted killing and terrorism in Karachi.

During initial inquiries, the police also got “some leads” about their involvement in targeted killing of traffic policemen. Besides targeting law enforcers, they had confessed to killing political workers and members of the Shia community, added the AIG.

“A dangerous pamphlet has also been found in their custody, which they were supposed to distribute to trigger chaos and fear in the people,” said AIG Abbasi.

The pamphlet contained warning to the people to remain away from vehicles of the army, police and Rangers as they would target them.

“The ringleader is Qari Mohammed Akram,” said the CTD Sindh chief. “He is a Hafiz. They were basically indoctrinated at seminaries and mosques,” said AIG Abbasi.

Some of the held militants were allegedly illegal immigrants, “hailing from Bangladesh”.

AIG Abbasi said that “two or three members” of the group were still at large. He added that the police were looking for their financiers also.

The seized explosive material and weapons included an IED-fitted rickshaw, 10 bottle bombs, a rocket launcher, five RPGs,10 hand grenades, six red signal rockets (parachute), 20 detonators, two parcel bombs, surgical masks, first aid equipment, two Kalashnikovs and 10 TT pistols. Jihadi literature was also seized from them.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2016

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