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Karachi security forces shatter militants
Defeated militants in tribal areas increasingly head for Karachi, Chaudhry Aslam says
By Zia Ur Rehman
KARACHI – Law enforcement agencies have shattered the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allied groups, especially the Al-Mukhtar group and Punjabi Taliban, in Karachi to a great extent, Chaudhry Aslam, head of the Anti-Extremism Cell (AEC) of the Karachi police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), told Central Asia Online in an exclusive interview.
Aslam is noted for his tough measures against militant outfits and criminal gangs in the city. Under his supervision, the CID since 2008 has arrested dozens of militants planning attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of them belonged to the TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Afghan Taliban or other banned militant outfits.
Hounded by military operations in the tribal areas, TTP militants are increasingly moving to Karachi, where they obtain logistical and manpower support from militant organisations already established in the city, he said.
In 2011, Karachi police arrested 222 militants, the majority of them involved in beheading civilians, attacking security forces and police, destroying private property and committing other crimes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas, Aslam told Central Asia Online.
“After the arrest of TTP Karachi head Akhter Zaman in October 2009, the organisational setup of TTP was largely broken,” he said. Zaman was involved in a failed terrorist attack on the Kemari Oil Terminal September 14, 2009. That attack was meant to avenge TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud’s death in an August 2009 air strike, he said.
Most recently, the AEC arrested and seized arms from suspected TTP terrorist Muhammad Dawood (aka Waleed) in Mawach Goth January 14, Aslam said. Dawood confessed to masterminding a 2010 attack on the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, Aslam said.
Little-known militant groups operating in Karachi
The CID has found several small, previously unknown militant outfits operating in Karachi, said Aslam. Those groups include Punjabi Taliban, the Badar Mansoor group of the TTP, the Al-Mukhtar Group and Jundullah.
The TTP has been splintering into smaller cells because of successful efforts by law enforcement against it, Central Asia Online reported June 24.
“It is the TTP's strategy to operate in Karachi in smaller cells to dodge law enforcement agencies longer,” he said. “The cells are so small and so scattered, they are discovered only when law enforcement agencies arrest their members.”
Zaman’s arrest harmed the TTP badly in Karachi, he said, and the militants started to work with Karachi-based militant groups, especially Laskhar-e-Jhangvi and Jundullah.
Out of 42 Karachi terrorist attacks in 2011, the Al-Mukhtar Group carried out nine, he said. However, after the December arrest of their suspected Karachi leader Asghar alias Omar, the CID has done much to shatter its network, he added.
Aslam also described the crimes of the Punjabi Taliban, saying it recruited young boys to commit suicide bombings in Waziristan. The CID June 26 arrested Abdul Razzaq (alias Omar) and Rashid Iqbal (alias Basit), whom authorities accuse of recruiting juvenile bombers. The pair allegedly sent six teenage boys to Waziristan in 2009: an aerial strike on a training camp killed four of the boys, while the Karachi CID arrested the other two.
Attempts on Aslam’s life
Aslam’s relentlessness has not endeared him to the terrorists.
Militants attacked Aslam’s house September 19 after repeatedly failing to kill him at his office. That car bombing killed at least eight people.
“Aslam was on our hit list, and he is still on our hit list,” Ihsanullah Ihsan, a TTP spokesman, told media as he claimed responsibility for the attack.
Aslam survived an even bigger car bombing in November 2010, which killed at least 30 people and destroyed the main CID office in Karachi. Aslam and three other CID senior officials – Fayyaz Khan, Omar Shahid and Mazhar Mashwani – reportedly were the main targets. They all survived.
Aslam has vowed to carry on his mission of eliminating the Taliban in Karachi. “They are cowards,” he said of the Taliban. “They call themselves Muslims, but they, in fact, have nothing to do with Islam.”
Regarding the attempts on his life, he said, “Such cowardly acts do not frighten me.”