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LeJ’s entire leadership eliminated in Punjab

June 20, 2016

Counter-terrorism forces kill over 226 LeJ terrorists, arrest 637 close associates of Malik Ishaq

ISLAMABAD: Security forces claimed to have eliminated the entire leadership of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a group with the potential to provide foot soldiers to Islamic State or ‘Daish’ in Pakistan, revealed an official document.

Over 226 jet-black terrorists have been killed and 1,000 hardcore militants arrested since the beginning of this year in combing operations conducted by the special counter-terrorism forces in the Punjab.

“By zeroing in on the banned LeJ, we have made it sure that the IS or ‘Daish’ does not have easy inroads into our country,” said a top official, who is a part of the operation to hunt down the militants in the province.

The counter-terrorism forces arrested 637 hardcore militants of LeJ and its splinter groups in months long drive. They have also arrested 394 close associates of deceased LeJ kingpin Malik Ishaq in the country, official documents further revealed, exclusively made available with Geo News (ASKKS Programme). “Over 80 percent of third-tier leadership of LeJ has also been arrested,” the documents read.

Around two dozen top commanders of the LeJ, who were killed in various intelligence-based police encounters, had remained in direct contact with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, top leader of the Islamic State in Syria, senior officials of the CTD Punjab revealed in background meetings. These militants, killed in various encounters in theC past one year, are claimed to be named: Ameer LeJ Malik Ishaq and his two sons Haq Nawaz and Muhammad Usman in Muzaffargarh, LeJ Alipur Commander Muhammad Idrees, LeJ Ameer for Shujaabad Abdur Rehman and LeJ Group commanders namely Umer Farooq, Saeed alias Tinko, Javed Aziz, Abdul Hafeez, Shabir Anjum, Muzammal Saeed and Muhammad Sufian. They were killed in various encounters in Rahimyar Khan, official document stated. They all were believed to be working with Fares al-Aruri, a Syrian national believed to be recruiting militants for ‘Daish’ in Pakistan, the CTD officials revealed.

LeJ Multan chief Ghulam Murtaza, LeJ Jhang Ameer Muhammad Akram, LeJ Bahawalpur Ameer Muhammad Jaffar and LeJ ring leaders in Muzaffargarh, Zubair alia Tida, Shafiq alia Ali and Tehzib Haider Shah were killed in police encounters recently in Punjab. Bahawalnagar LeJ chief Aqib Ali, LeJ Hajipur Khalifa Imdadullah, Khalifa of Ali Pur Imtiaz Farooq, deputy chief leaders of LeJ Ghulam Qasim and Abu-Bakr from Rahim Yar Khan and captain LeJ Rajanpur Muhammad Usman were killed in police encounters this year.

They were claimed to be working with Syrian nationals Otari al-Najadi and his wife Saba Fakhri and Shakoori Mustafa with his wife Farida Shakoori who traveled on Syrian passports to Pakistan, the CTD officials revealed.

The counter-terrorism forces also claimed that they have arrested 352 hardcore militants having affiliation with the Ludhianvi Group, 24 militants of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, 37 of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), 67 militants belong to Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and 164 militants having affiliation with many proscribed organisations. Putting 1,600 suspects who were on 4th Schedule (under watch list), the counter terrorism forces arrested over 2,240 Afghan trained boys, 556 returnees from Afghan prisons and 89 Lal Masjid elements were also arrested in the combing operations.

Former chief of the National Counter Terrorism Authority Hamid Ali also confirmed that that around three dozen LeJ commanders and its splinter groups were in communication with the top ‘Daish’ leadership in Syria and Iraq. Intelligence agencies and CTD, after intercepting many calls, decided to target them, he recalled. “All these militants went into an alliance with ‘Daish’ because they need relevancy,” he told the Geo News.

South Punjab with a history of having provided foot soldiers to sectarian outfits since 1990 had been offering a promising opportunity for al-Qaeda, TTP and now for Islamic State to strengthen its network in the region, many analysts believe.

Former ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi says, “It is a murky situation though — however, the LeJ deserved to be wiped out.” Under the National Action Plan, it is obligatory for security forces and intelligence agencies to dismantle not only the LeJ but also to clean up all franchises of militant organisations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Al-Qaeda, JeM and TTP, Naqvi observed. If the LeJ’s entire leadership is really eliminated, then it is definitely a positive sign that from now on the state is no longer backing up such elements, he added.