January 09, 2017Print : Karachi
Anti-terrorism official says there might be surge in sectarian violence in city if LEAs don’t chalk out a strategy to clamp down on sleeper cells
The sleeper cells of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are believed to be involved in the recent attacks on cops and there might be a surge in sectarian violence in the coming days, a counter-terrorism department official told The News on Sunday.
“In the past AQIS has used homemade bombs containing ball bearings in the Taimuria police station a Russian-made grenade was used, something that is new,” said CTD Transnational Terrorism Intelligence Group in-charge Raja Umer Khattab.
“AQIS primarily used handmade bombs. They had started off by making ball bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”
On Wednesday night, sub-inspector Iqbal Mehmood was gunned down in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. On Friday morning, Constable Mohammad Iqbal was injured in a grenade attack on Taimuria police station and then the attackers had fired gunshots Five Star Chowrangi injuring traffic constable Bashir Ramzan and killing a passer-by, Ali Imran.
Khattab said AQIS commander Rehan was an expert in making IEDs and was killed in a shootout with his team on April 14 last year.
After Rehan’s death, claims the officer, there has not been a single IED attack on law enforcers in Karachi.
“The use of a grenade now suggests that sleeper cells of these terrorist outfits are now active and their members possess new kinds of weapons and explosives,” the official noted.
Sleeper cells still exist
Khattab said the crackdown against terrorists and criminals in Karachi had not wiped out the networks of terrorist outfits completely and sleeper cells still existed. He added that their leadership had been wiped out by the law-enforcement agencies but yet they posed a threat.
“These sleeper cells don’t wait for instructions to become active. They have been trained to do their job when required and operate on their own. They focus mostly on soft targets merely to show their presence.”
The official said it was necessary that the law-enforcement agencies jointly chalked out a strategy to clamp down on the sleeper cells so that further attacks could be prevented.
Khattab said the sleeper cells were targeting law-enforcement personnel and members of the Shia, Bohra and Ahmadiyya communities in the Central and West districts.
However, he added, there were reasons to believe that a group affiliated with Daesh was operating in the East district and responsible for attacks on DSP Faiz Ali Shigri and other members of the Shia community.
“All these terrorist outfits including AQIS, the LeJ, and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar are going for soft targets. With their networks dented by the crackdown they lack the capabilities they possessed in the past.”
Last week, six members of a group affiliated with the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar were arrested by the West district police with the assistance of an intelligence agency.
Three of them were identified as Abdul Sami, Mohammad Noor and Shahid Khan. They were found in possession of weapons and explosive material.
They were trained in making bombs and suicide vests in Afghanistan by a man named Abdullah and led by a commander named Qari Zahid.
SSP West Nasir Aftab told The News that these men were sent to Karachi from Afghanistan four months ago and were assigned the task of targeting law-enforcement agencies and their installations.
Before going to Afghanistan, these men were also trained by Qari Zafar Masood and Ustad Wali Mohammad in South Waziristan.
Their targets included the Razzakabad police training centre, SSP Rao Anwaar, traffic cops, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s sanitary workers, a police bus in Sultanabad and police informers.