Friday May 24, 2024

Daesh replaces al-Qaeda in South Asia — Quetta victims calling for justice

By Senator Rehman Malik
April 20, 2019

It was nearly a year back when I drafted a book on Daesh, while it was about to go for publication I held it, considering that let the nation remain on one page as the then government in Pakistan was not ready to accept the presence of Daesh/ISIS in the country openly however, government ministers were privately confessed.

Though it is still semi-confession of its presence, but I feel that the world must know the foundational facts about Daesh, how it was created and what was the purpose and motives behind its creation. Now is the time that I have decided to launch this book in a couple of weeks, which will explain its evolution and financing. The group is, in fact, replacing Al-Qaeda.

Daesh has so far claimed the following acts of terrorism in Pakistan:

• An attack on a bus in Karachi in May 2015 that killed 46 people, was the first major incident officially claimed by IS in Pakistan.

• A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100 in August 2016 in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta, and Daesh claimed responsibility of it.

• In October 2016, Three ISIS terrorists carried out a mass shooting at police cadets at a training center in Quetta kills 61 cadets and wounded 160. The two of them had bombed themselves while one was killed during the operation.

• In February 2017, a suicide bomber killed 100 people at the Sehwan Sharif; a Shrine in Sindh. ISIS claimed responsibility.

• In May 2017, Daesh targeted the ex- deputy chairman of Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in a bomb attack in Mastung District.

• In August 2017, a suicide blast carried out by ISIS in Quetta killed 15 people including 8 Pakistani soldiers.

• In July 2018, Daesh carried out the deadliest attack in the history of Pakistan after APS attack in Mastung in which Siraj Raisani was about to address an election rally when a suicide bomber, carrying around 16–20 kg of explosive material in his vest, blew himself up among a crowd of more than 1000 people. Along with Raisani, the explosion killed 128 people. Two days after the attack, on 15 July 2018, the number of dead increased to 149, while 186 other people were injured.

• The most recent act of terrorism in Quetta in a fruit market, which killed over 20 people and around 48 got injured, has also been claimed by Daesh.

It is very clear that Daesh is now fully present in Pakistan and its training camps are in Afghanistan, where the Daesh recruits from all over the world, including Pakistan, China and Russia. Individuals are trained and then launched in the respective countries on preselected targets.

There are strong indicators that this region will be destabilised through Daesh. The above major incidents are now a testimony of the presence of Daesh in Pakistan but operating from Afghanistan.

Let us see what actions are taken to smash it before it grows into a bigger monster like Al-Qaeda.

Worldwide attacks of Daesh

ISIS claimed 14 attacks alone in Iraq in 2013, 1 in Pakistan and 7 in Europe in 2014. They claimed 5 in Europe, 3 in Turkey and 1 in Iraq in 2015. In 2016, ISIS held 10 attacks in Europe, 1 in Afghanistan, 2 in Pakistan, 4 in Turkey and 5 in Iraq. In 2017, they carried out 9 attacks in Europe, 4 in Afghanistan, 3 in Pakistan, 1 in Turkey and 1 in Iraq. In 2018, Europe has been attacked by ISIS and Afghanistan twice. Pakistan has recently been attacked this year.

Abu Musab Al Zarqawi with Daesh Flag

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant was the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and founder of Daesh (ISIS). He formed the group to conduct terrorist activities against US forces in Iraq in the aftermath of toppling Saddam Hussain around 2003. Initially, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi called his group Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

He was killed on June 2006 by an American airstrike on an isolated safe house in north of Baghdad. Total six people were killed in that airstrike including Al Zarqawi, his spiritual adviser and four other people including a woman and a child. The strike had been accompanied by a ground assault involving American and Iraqi troops.

It was an important killing as Al Zarqawi had an American bounty of $25 million over his head for being the most-wanted man in Iraq for his leadership of terrorist groups. His group under his leadership carried out many of the most brutal attacks, including suicide bombings, kidnappings and beheadings. In his late 30's, he was titled as "Prince of Al-Qaeda" in Iraq by Osama bin Laden.

Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi

He is declared the present leader of ISIS and is based in Syria.

Al-Baghdadi was detained in a US-run prison in southern Iraq for several months and was later released in 2004. After ISIS declared the creation of the so-called "Islamic State," he started calling himself as Al-Khalifah Ibrahim.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is apparently the most wanted target of the US. He was reportedly targeted in Oct 15, but it is not sure if he has been killed yet. He was wounded on 18 March 2015 during a US airstrike on the Al-Baaj District, near the Syrian border. He had serious wounds so much so that the top ISIS leaders had started discussing who would replace him if he died. Nobody knows if it was a truth or merely a disinformation.

Since then, the US State Department has offered a reward of up to $25 million for information or intelligence leading to his capture or death, after his further use.

According to the latest reports he has found his way to Turkey and I can foresee his end like Osama Bin Laden as he is the custodian of many secrets of his masters and he will prove to be dangerous for western creators. Hence his end is going to be like Osama Bin Laden.

His utility in Middle-East has almost come to end and many of his followers and trained Daesh infected terrorists have found their way now towards many Muslim countries including Pakistan. The sub Head Quarter of Daesh is now in Afghanistan and Afghan Intelligence knows exactly where their training centers are located. These camps cannot function without the patronage of Afghan government and their ultimate masters.

Daesh outfit conceived by west and energised in the Middle East is now being used in Pakistan and is likely to increase its influence in South Asia soon.

Let us hope that the government takes serious steps against it after Quetta incident and takes all the possible measures to expose this network and smash it. I also propose that Daesh should also be banned in Pakistan and action should be taken to eliminate their members and associates promoting it here.

Let us keep our minds and eyes open and the government should either prove the claims of Daesh or declare its presence and take strict action by not allowing it to grow by default.

It is never too late to accept the reality and the reality is that Daesh is actually hurting us and we should smash its head before it grows a monster like Al-Qaeda. It is high time for the government and Parliament to get the National Action Plan revised and implemented.

The writer is Chairman of think tank "global eye" & former interior minister of Pakistan. @Email: rmalik1212@gmail .com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393