Hunt for key surviving LeJ leader intensified

August 10,2015

NEW YORK: Following the July 29, 2015 killing of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) chief Malik Mohammad Ishaq, his two sons, his deputy Ghulam Rasool Shah and 11 LeJ operatives in a police encounter in Muzaffargarh, the hunt to capture the most wanted chief operational commander of the LeJ, Matiur Rehman alias

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NEW YORK: Following the July 29, 2015 killing of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) chief Malik Mohammad Ishaq, his two sons, his deputy Ghulam Rasool Shah and 11 LeJ operatives in a police encounter in Muzaffargarh, the hunt to capture the most wanted chief operational commander of the LeJ, Matiur Rehman alias Abdul Samad Sial, has been stepped up.
The hunt has been intensified following intelligence reports that Matiur Rehman might try to avenge Malik Ishaq’s killing by attacking the Pakistani and American interests in Pakistan. Matiur Rehman had also been declared Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US State Department due to his al-Qaeda links, as had been the case with Malik Ishaq.
While Malik Ishaq was killed 18 months after being tagged a global terrorist in February 2014 for his al-Qaeda links, Matiur Rehman keeps dodging the agencies despite having been labeled a Global Terrorist way back in December 2010, being the planning director of the LeJ which is working on behalf of al-Qaeda.
The UN Security Council subsequently tagged Matiur as a most wanted al-Qaeda-linked terrorist in August 2011 for financing and planning the August 2006 failed scheme to destroy mid-air as many as 10 US-bound British aircraft.
After lying low for over a year following the launch of the military operation in North Waziristan, Matiur Rehman has reactivated himself at the behest of al-Qaeda to unleash a fresh wave of terror across Pakistan by reinforcing the TTP, which is going through a rough patch now a days.
Therefore, the security agencies want to hunt him down at any cost, being the only surviving key Jhangvi leader after the killings of Riaz Basra, Amjad Farooqi, Usman Saifullah Kurd, Ghulam Rasool Shah and Malik Ishaq. In fact, the LeJ was founded by Basra, Shah and Ishaq in January 1996 when they had assembled on the lawns of the Minar-e-Pakistan.
Akram Lahori, the Salar-e-Aala of the LeJ who had co-founded the lethal outfit in 1996 at Minar-e-Pakistan along with Basra, Shah and Ishaq, has been behind the bars since his June 2002 arrest in Karachi. Charged with 38 sectarian killings and handed down death sentence way back in April 2003 by an Anti Terrorist Court of Karachi, he has been dodging the gallows for almost 12 years now for inexplicable reasons.
As far as Matiur Rehman is concerned, he is not only wanted by the Sindh police but also by the Punjab police, being on the top of the 100 most wanted terrorists, with head money of Rs10 million. He is wanted by the Punjab police for masterminding two failed assassination attempts on General Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December 2003 and the July 30, 2004 suicide attack on Prime Minister-designated Shaukat Aziz near Fateh Jang, which he had escaped miraculously, although eight people were killed in the attack, including his driver. The American intelligence sleuths want him for being a key member of al-Qaeda’s external operations council who has been traced to multiple terrorist plots against the West. Coming from Bahawalpur district, Matiur Rehman became the chief operational commander of the LeJ following the June 29, 2002 arrest of its Salar-e-Aala (operational chief) Akram Lahori - a graduate from the Punjab University Lahore and a former bodyguard of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the slain founder of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).
According to the Pakistani intelligence agencies, Matiur Rehman is playing the same role as had been played by another key LeJ leader, Amjad Hussain Farooqi - coordinating with al-Qaeda top brass on behalf of the Pakistani jehadis. Farooqi was killed in an encounter with the Sindh police in May 2004 after being found involved in the failed assassination attempt on Musharraf in Rawalpindi. An expert in bomb making, Matiur Rehman is closely linked to the January 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter. The Americans believe that Matiur Rehman had assisted Adnanal Shukri Jumah, another key al-Qaeda leader and the operational chief for North America, in training militants who had planned to attack passenger trains in New York in 2009. His name had actually surfaced way back in August 2006 during the interrogation of one of the 17 suspects arrested in Pakistan in connection with the plot to blow up 10 US-bound jetliners. The foiled plot was modeled after the 1995 Bojinka plot devised by al-Qaeda’s then chief operational commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his nephew Ramzi Yousaf. Both had been subsequently arrested from Pakistan and deported to the United States.
Ramzi Yousaf was the prime accused in the New York World Trade Centre bombing of February 1993 and was arrested from an Islamabad guesthouse on February 7, 1995. Khaled Sheikh was the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was arrested from the Rawalpindi house of a Jamaat-e-Islami leader in March 2003. According to the intelligence information the Americans shared with their Pakistani counterparts, following the arrest of Khaled Sheikh, Matiur Rehman had started taking orders from al-Qaeda’s new chief operational commander, Abu Faraj Al Libbi, before he too was nabbed from the Mardan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on May 3, 2005. Matiur Rehman reportedly also manages al-Qaeda’s directory of tested fidayeen (suicide bombers) who had passed through terror training camps which had been located in the largely lawless Waziristan tribal belt.
One such young human bomb, reportedly trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Yemen, was Omar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner in the US on the eve of the Christmas in December 2010. Another potential suicide bomber, allegedly trained by Matiur Rehman and tasked to target the New York subway, is Najibullah Zazi. A 25-year-old former shuttle driver at the Denver airport who had allegedly received training in explosives at an al-Qaeda camp in the Waziristan tribal region, Zazi told his American prosecutors that he was armed with bomb making components while en route to New York in 2010, but flushed them down the toilet in a New York City apartment after getting spooked by a traffic stop on George Washington Bridge while entering the city.
Those trying to hunt down Matiur Rehman portray him as extremely dangerous due to his role as a crucial interface between the brains of al-Qaeda and its muscle, which is mainly composed of militants from the Pakistani jehadi groups. He had helped train hundreds of fellow Pakistani militants at training camps during the late 1990s, being a key commander of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI) who had also worked under Commander Ilyas Kashmiri. Matiur Rehman was last tracked down at Karman Hotel in the main Miram Shah Bazaar of North Waziristan. He had stayed there along with his wife Gulshan and an infant daughter, but abandoned the locality in 2011 after narrowly escaping an American drone attack. Subsequent intelligence reports said he had travelled to Lahore the same year to attend the annual congregation of the Tableeghi Jamaat in Raiwind Lahore, mainly to interact with his jehadi cadres and to formulate their future strategy.
Hunt for key surviving LeJ leader intensified
By Amir Mir
NEW YORK: Following the July 29, 2015 killing of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) chief Malik Mohammad Ishaq, his two sons, his deputy Ghulam Rasool Shah and 11 LeJ operatives in a police encounter in Muzaffargarh, the hunt to capture the most wanted chief operational commander of the LeJ, Matiur Rehman alias Abdul Samad Sial, has been stepped up.
The hunt has been intensified following intelligence reports that Matiur Rehman might try to avenge Malik Ishaq’s killing by attacking the Pakistani and American interests in Pakistan. Matiur Rehman had also been declared Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US State Department due to his al-Qaeda links, as had been the case with Malik Ishaq.
While Malik Ishaq was killed 18 months after being tagged a global terrorist in February 2014 for his al-Qaeda links, Matiur Rehman keeps dodging the agencies despite having been labeled a Global Terrorist way back in December 2010, being the planning director of the LeJ which is working on behalf of al-Qaeda.
The UN Security Council subsequently tagged Matiur as a most wanted al-Qaeda-linked terrorist in August 2011 for financing and planning the August 2006 failed scheme to destroy mid-air as many as 10 US-bound British aircraft.
After lying low for over a year following the launch of the military operation in North Waziristan, Matiur Rehman has reactivated himself at the behest of al-Qaeda to unleash a fresh wave of terror across Pakistan by reinforcing the TTP, which is going through a rough patch now a days.
Therefore, the security agencies want to hunt him down at any cost, being the only surviving key Jhangvi leader after the killings of Riaz Basra, Amjad Farooqi, Usman Saifullah Kurd, Ghulam Rasool Shah and Malik Ishaq. In fact, the LeJ was founded by Basra, Shah and Ishaq in January 1996 when they had assembled on the lawns of the Minar-e-Pakistan.
Akram Lahori, the Salar-e-Aala of the LeJ who had co-founded the lethal outfit in 1996 at Minar-e-Pakistan along with Basra, Shah and Ishaq, has been behind the bars since his June 2002 arrest in Karachi. Charged with 38 sectarian killings and handed down death sentence way back in April 2003 by an Anti Terrorist Court of Karachi, he has been dodging the gallows for almost 12 years now for inexplicable reasons.
As far as Matiur Rehman is concerned, he is not only wanted by the Sindh police but also by the Punjab police, being on the top of the 100 most wanted terrorists, with head money of Rs10 million. He is wanted by the Punjab police for masterminding two failed assassination attempts on General Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December 2003 and the July 30, 2004 suicide attack on Prime Minister-designated Shaukat Aziz near Fateh Jang, which he had escaped miraculously, although eight people were killed in the attack, including his driver. The American intelligence sleuths want him for being a key member of al-Qaeda’s external operations council who has been traced to multiple terrorist plots against the West. Coming from Bahawalpur district, Matiur Rehman became the chief operational commander of the LeJ following the June 29, 2002 arrest of its Salar-e-Aala (operational chief) Akram Lahori - a graduate from the Punjab University Lahore and a former bodyguard of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the slain founder of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).
According to the Pakistani intelligence agencies, Matiur Rehman is playing the same role as had been played by another key LeJ leader, Amjad Hussain Farooqi - coordinating with al-Qaeda top brass on behalf of the Pakistani jehadis. Farooqi was killed in an encounter with the Sindh police in May 2004 after being found involved in the failed assassination attempt on Musharraf in Rawalpindi. An expert in bomb making, Matiur Rehman is closely linked to the January 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter. The Americans believe that Matiur Rehman had assisted Adnanal Shukri Jumah, another key al-Qaeda leader and the operational chief for North America, in training militants who had planned to attack passenger trains in New York in 2009. His name had actually surfaced way back in August 2006 during the interrogation of one of the 17 suspects arrested in Pakistan in connection with the plot to blow up 10 US-bound jetliners. The foiled plot was modeled after the 1995 Bojinka plot devised by al-Qaeda’s then chief operational commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his nephew Ramzi Yousaf. Both had been subsequently arrested from Pakistan and deported to the United States.
Ramzi Yousaf was the prime accused in the New York World Trade Centre bombing of February 1993 and was arrested from an Islamabad guesthouse on February 7, 1995. Khaled Sheikh was the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was arrested from the Rawalpindi house of a Jamaat-e-Islami leader in March 2003. According to the intelligence information the Americans shared with their Pakistani counterparts, following the arrest of Khaled Sheikh, Matiur Rehman had started taking orders from al-Qaeda’s new chief operational commander, Abu Faraj Al Libbi, before he too was nabbed from the Mardan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on May 3, 2005. Matiur Rehman reportedly also manages al-Qaeda’s directory of tested fidayeen (suicide bombers) who had passed through terror training camps which had been located in the largely lawless Waziristan tribal belt.
One such young human bomb, reportedly trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Yemen, was Omar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner in the US on the eve of the Christmas in December 2010. Another potential suicide bomber, allegedly trained by Matiur Rehman and tasked to target the New York subway, is Najibullah Zazi. A 25-year-old former shuttle driver at the Denver airport who had allegedly received training in explosives at an al-Qaeda camp in the Waziristan tribal region, Zazi told his American prosecutors that he was armed with bomb making components while en route to New York in 2010, but flushed them down the toilet in a New York City apartment after getting spooked by a traffic stop on George Washington Bridge while entering the city.
Those trying to hunt down Matiur Rehman portray him as extremely dangerous due to his role as a crucial interface between the brains of al-Qaeda and its muscle, which is mainly composed of militants from the Pakistani jehadi groups. He had helped train hundreds of fellow Pakistani militants at training camps during the late 1990s, being a key commander of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI) who had also worked under Commander Ilyas Kashmiri. Matiur Rehman was last tracked down at Karman Hotel in the main Miram Shah Bazaar of North Waziristan. He had stayed there along with his wife Gulshan and an infant daughter, but abandoned the locality in 2011 after narrowly escaping an American drone attack. Subsequent intelligence reports said he had travelled to Lahore the same year to attend the annual congregation of the Tableeghi Jamaat in Raiwind Lahore, mainly to interact with his jehadi cadres and to formulate their future strategy.
Matiur Rehman has lately been found working in tandem with Mullah Fazlullah-led TTP. A May 2015 statement by TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said that three outfits led by Commander Qari Matiur Rehman, Commander Qari Ehsanul Haq, and Commander Ashfaq alias Shamil, have merged with the TTP under the leadership of Matiur Rehman. Khurasani added: “All the three militant entities which have joined the TTP used to play an important role in the past in waging jehad against the enemy forces in Pakistan. They used to cooperate with the TTP in the past, even though they were not officially part of the TTP. But from now onwards, the Matiur Rehman group as well as the two other groups led by Qari Ehsanul Haq and Mohammad Shamil will be working from the TTP platform as a unified force to advance the militant agenda of the jehadi conglomerate.”




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