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December 20, 2014

Who is who of top 18 death row prisoners?

Pakistan

WD
Web Desk
December 20, 2014

ISLAMABAD: As Aqeel alias Dr Usman, a former dispenser with the Army Medical Corps, and Arshad Mahmood, a former Army Naik, were finally hanged on terrorism charges in Faisalabad, at least 18 more terrorists who have either been handed down death sentences mostly in the Punjab and Sindh by anti-terrorist courts or by military courts are set to face the gallows in the coming few days, writes Amir Mir.
According to well-placed sources in the Ministry of Interior, at least 18 more terrorists, most of whom are Jihadis belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, will be sent to the gallows within a week’s time in the wake of the prime minister’s decision to lift the moratorium on executions following the dastardly school massacre in Peshawar by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. The death warrants of these terrorists are likely to be issued by the concerned authorities within the next 48 hours to pave the way for their hangings. The Army chief General Raheel Sharif had signed the death warrants of six terrorists, of which Aqeel and Arshad have already been executed at the Faisalabad Jail while the remaining four (who were court martialed despite being civilians) are set to be hanged in the next couple of days. All of them were accused of being a part of the December 25, 2003 assassination attempt on General Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi.
The four civilians who were court martialed and now set to be executed include Zubair Ahmed, Rasheed Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti and Akhlaq Ahmed, who is a Russian citizen. They have been kept in the Faisalabad Jail where Aqeel and Arshad were also being held before being hanged. They were charged with being part of a criminal conspiracy aiming at organising a terrorist act by carrying out a suicide attack against the President of Pakistan and the Chief of the Army Staff in order to destabilise the Government of Pakistan. Musharraf’s presidential cavalcade was attacked by two suicide bombers [who were riding two

explosive-laden cars] at the Jhanda Chichi Bridge in Rawaplindi, killing 17 people. The agencies had explored their links to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) led by Maulana Masood Azhar who had refuted his group’s role in the attack, saying it was masterminded by a splinter group of the Jaish called Jamaatul Furqan – led by Abdul Jabbar alias Omar Farooq.
Two more death row terrorists are Manzoor Ahmed and Niaz Mohammad, who were convicted for their role in the second assassination attempt on Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December 2003. Both of them are currently imprisoned at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Another terrorist to be hanged in the coming days is Malik Noor Badshah, the alleged mastermind of the assassination attempt on former prime minister Shaukat Aziz in Fateh Jang in July 2004 when he was conducting his election campaign. Noor Badshah is reportedly imprisoned in the Haripur Central Jail.
Three more terrorists, who are most likely to be hanged in Lahore for their involvement in a deadly attack on a military camp near Gujrat, include Mohammad Kamran, Ahsan Azim and Umar Nadeem. The Gujrat military camp was allegedly attacked by the TTP-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorists from a bridge over the River Chenab on July 9, 2012 which had killed seven security personnel, including a serving colonel and his aides. Eight more people who are set to face the gallows and whose death warrants are likely to be issued within the next 76 hours include Mohammad Azam, Ataullah, Behram Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Ali, Abdul Jalal, Zahid alias Zada and Shafqat Hussain.
The Pakistani authorities are under tremendous pressure from the diplomatic circles in Islamabad to execute the killer of an American journalist Daniel Pearl – Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, who had already been handed down death sentence in January 2002. The 38-year-old reporter of the Wall Street Journal had travelled to Pakistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was abducted from Karachi on January 23, 2002, before being beheaded by militants belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi while he was working on an investigative story about the alleged intelligence links of some of the Pakistani Jihadi leaders.
The Pearl killers, including Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, a London School of Economics graduate-turned-Jihadi, and his three accomplices, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adeel, were put on trial on April 22, 2002 by a Karachi Anti-Terrorism Court. Omar Saeed Sheikh was handed down capital punishment while his three aides were sentenced to life in prison. All the convicted killers are keeping their fingers crossed to get their sentences reversed when the Sindh High Court finally decides their appeals against convictions.