(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 Basra’s lieutenant and ran the latter’s training camp in Sarobi, Afghanistan, until the two fell out and formed their own respective factions. While the majority of Hai’s supporters are Karachi-based, Basra’s 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 LJ’s 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: firstname.lastname@example.org )