Karachi police crackdown forces Taliban to change local leaders

Forced reorganisation will slow down terrorists, police say

By Javed Mahmood

2011-03-21

KARACHI — A police crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Karachi after a November 11 truck bombing of the CID headquarters has led to many arrests — and has forced the militants to make structural changes to escape capture, police and TTP sources have told Central Asia Online.

“We have developed a strong network of our agents in the Taliban, and we will track down the militants and foil their attempts to spread terrorism in the city,” Chaudhry Aslam, senior superintendent of CID police in Karachi, told Central Asia Online March 14.

“In 2010, we arrested 163 members of the TTP while another 17 have been arrested in the first two months of 2011,” Aslam said. “We are monitoring the activities of the terrorists and will continue our efforts to break the network of Taliban.”

The group has changed its leadership in Karachi to protect the identity of the commanders of different teams carrying out terrorism in the city, a TTP source told Central Asia Online.

The changes in the Taliban's leadership are “a blessing for the people” as they will slow terrorist activities in Karachi until the newly appointed militants are able to redevelop their network, Aslam said.

The TTP has replaced Karachi leaders known by the code names Abu Saad, Huzaifa, Wali Ur Rehma, Hafeez Ullah, Hidayatullah and Abu Hamza to protect them from arrest, TTP sources said.

It also has changed the code names of their replacements to thwart security officials’ efforts, sources said.

The commanders recruited militants and suicide bombers, raised money to finance terrorism, co-ordinated and aligned with other banned terrorist organisations, supplied weapons and explosives and carried out terrorist attacks, TTP spokesman Abdul Qawi said.

The previous Karachi TTP commanders have been re-assigned outside Karachi, Qawi said. He and other TTP sources refused to say how many commanders the TTP replaced.

After the CID blast, the security officials in Karachi tightened their network and carried out extensive investigations that forced the TTP to revamp its organisational structure, he added.

About 20 people, including policemen, were killed November 11 when a group of militants attacked the CID headquarters and then detonated a truck loaded with explosives that severely damaged the building.

In addition to replacing commanders involved directly in terrorist attacks, the TTP has replaced those responsible for recruiting students at Karachi’s colleges and universities. Central Asia Online reported in December that the TTP was distributing literature and carrying out recruitment programmes at Karachi University, Dawood Engineering College, NED University and two campuses of the Federal Urdu University.

The TTP personnel changes are so extensive that even Qawi is new to his job. He replaces Hidayat Ullah, the Karachi TTP spokesman for the past four years.

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