Tuesday September 21, 2021

Lahore blast: The man who knew the plot

August 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD: He was part of the plot to carry out the blast aimed at Jamaatud Dawa chief. Then he changed his mind and confessed before the concerned officials what was in the offing. Nevertheless, the blast took place near the residence of Hafiz Saeed that left three people killed and 24 injured including a police constable.

His name was Naveed. He is nowhere in the story that has so far been shared with the media to highlight the efficiency exhibited by the law enforcement agencies in apprehending the enablers and executors of this terrorist attack. A Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) official however told The News that he has been named in the case registered in this regard.

The blast occurred on June 23 about which Naveed had informed a couple of weeks ago, The News has learnt. His role was to conduct recce of the area where the high-value target was in residence. For this purpose, he started a property business and set up an office in a flat nearby. At times, he would invite JuD volunteers and policemen guarding Hafiz Saeed’s residence at meals and socialise with them. Meanwhile, preparations were in progress to carry out the attack.

God knows what went in his mind but he decided to spill the beans on June 7. A theory goes that he belonged to the same sect which is practiced by JuD affiliates and it could be the probable reason for the change of heart but its authenticity couldn’t be confirmed. Regardless of the fact that what was the trigger behind his decision, he approached the officials at the police picket there and made a confession. The police subsequently shared the information with JuD officials.

The security agencies were also taken into the loop who debriefed him. The CIA Police, it is learnt, further interrogated him. He was released later on. Whether all of the stakeholders didn’t find his story credible or took preventive measures in the light of his revelation isn’t clear. A well-placed official of CTD Punjab told The News that preventive steps were taken after Naveed’s disclosure. However, the fact remains that the blast nevertheless occurred and it became international news just two days before the FATF review that kept Pakistan in the grey list.

Naveed lived in Dubai before his repatriation to Pakistan. Investigators suggest he was given money to start a property business in Johar Town area in order to mask his task. Intriguingly, three other accused have also spent time in Dubai which indicates they might have known each other from their time in UAE. Peter Paul David, for example, a Karachi-based Christian, used to work in a night club in UAE. He came back after the Covid-19 hit that business. He was the one who bought the car used for carrying out the blast.

Sajjad Shah of Mandi Bahauddin, another accused in the case, has worked in Dubai with Peter. Samiul Haq, the alleged financier, lived in Dubai before moving to Turkey where he is residing now. He has served a jail sentence in the UAE. Investigators suspect he was framed by hostile agencies during the course of his stay in Dubai. Sami is accused of supplying funds for this operation from Turkey to Ziaullah in Peshawar which were used for purchasing the car for which the upfront payment of Rs50,000 was made by Peter. He also looked after the financial needs of other collaborators, it is said.

Eid Gul, who carried out the attack, took the car, rehearsed in the target area and drove the car to Rawalpindi at his residence. An Afghan national, whose family is settled in Jang and does business there, Eid fitted the explosives in it with the help of his wife and drove back to Lahore via Motorway. During the course of the journey, he parked the car on the roadside and slept in it for hours as he spent the night installing explosives, he told the investigators. Neither he nor his car came under suspicion of Motorway Police.