The botched terrorist attempt in Shikarpur and many previous incidents in Sindh in the past can be traced to elements in Balochistan
While citizens across the country were heading for Eid-ul-Azha prayers, terrorists had planned to carry out a bloodbath in upper Sindh. On September 13, constable Rafiq Qureshi and others in the police put their lives at risk to foil a major terror bid. They gunned down one suicide-bomber and were successful in capturing one alive.
Talking to The News on Sunday, Additional IG Counter Terrorism Department Sindh, Sanaullah Abbasi, says, "After recent incident at Shikarpur, a police combing operation in Upper Sindh is in progress and one of our SSPs is stationed in Sukkur to monitor the progress."
During investigation, 19-year-old failed suicide bomber Usman who was born in Swat, disclosed that he had initially studied in Abu Huraira seminary of Ittehad Town Karachi. Later, he studied for three years at a seminary in the Afghan province of Nangarhar. From there, he entered Pakistan in the month of Ramzan via Chaman along with another bomber Abdul Rehman and their handler Abdul Hafeez Brohi. Abdul Rehman and he had spent about three months in Wadh area of Balochistan’s Khuzdar district. Security officials claim Usman and Rehman were the guests of banned Jandullah Pakistan militants, Maaz and Arif at a compound in Wadh provided by Shafeeq Mengal.
Shafeeq Mengal is a resident of Wadh and reportedly was a leader of banned Baloch Musallah Difa-e-Pakistan, an anti-separatist banned Baloch militant group. Mengal has now formed Haq Ana Tawar party. The startling fact is that Shafeeq is the son of former state minister for petroleum Naseer Mengal. Sources say Mengal was previously targeting Baloch separatist groups and joined hands with the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi during this time.
The case of the 2014 killing of eight Levies personnel in Wadh area has been registered against the son of the former state minister.
In the JIT report of the Safoora bus carnage in Karachi, key suspect Tahir Minhas was said to have had the help of Ramzi Yousaf’s brother, Haji Sahib, who sought refuge in Khuzdar with Shafeeq Mengal. Minhas was also said to have travelled to Khuzdar to meet with Haji Sahib.
A former SSP of Shikarpur says on condition of anonymity that the "banned outfits are trying to establish and strengthen their network in Interior Sindh; they are targeting everyone who stands against their thoughts".
This is not the first terrorist incident which traces its links to sectarian terrorists in Balochistan. The terrorist attack which claimed 28 lives in Jacobabad on the 9th of Muharram (October 23) last year was another one.
In a press conference on February 11, the Deputy Inspector-General of Larkana Range had claimed that the attack was planned at the Madarasa Hussainia Ibn-e-Ameer Muavia in Quetta. Eight terrorists belonging to a banned outfit were said to be involved in the attack. Police arrested two suspects and produced them before the media.
Dargah Ghulam Shah Ghazi in the village of Maari, was targeted in a bomb attack on February 25, 2013. Six people including the gaddi nasheen [custodian] Syed Hajan Shah, his two children and three women were injured in the attack. Syed Hajan Shah succumbed to injuries after eight days.
Over 60 people lost their lives on January 31, 2015 during Friday prayers in Shikarpur when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Lakhi Dar Imambargah mosque. That was the third biggest terrorist incident in the history of Sindh province. The mastermind of these two attacks was allegedly Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Asif Chotu who was facilitated by a man named Abdul Hafeez Brohi. There are reports that an intelligence agency has arrested Asif Chotu from Dera Ghazi Khan in February this year. But there is no official word yet on this development.
Interrogation of a handler, Khalil Ahmed Brohi, involved in the Shikarpur attack (copy available with TNS) shows that he was a resident of Dera Murad Jamali, Balochistan. According to the interrogation, the name of the suicide bomber who carried out Shikarpur blast was Muhammad Ilyas. The interrogation report indicates that the attack was planned and monitored from Jhal Magsi, Balochistan. After completing the deadly task, Khalil received a sum of Rs200,000.
The interrogation report shows that Khalil was also involved in the attacks at Dargah Peer Hajan Shah, suicide bombing attempt on MNA Ibrahim Jatoi and killing of Maulana Shafqat Abbas. His list of accomplices contains 17 names and 8 of them were from Balochistan.
After the recent botched terrorist attack in Shikarpur, the police have registered a case against the dead bomber Abdul Rehman, arrested would-be-bomber Usman, his two accomplices Umar and Abdul Hafeez Brohi and two unidentified persons. The same Abdul Hafeez Brohi was also instrumental in last year’s Shikarpur blast.
A senior intelligence officer told TNS on condition of anonymity: "Abdul Hafeez Brohi is a key member of the banned Jaish-ul-Islam/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Balochistan and belongs to the Mastung area of Balochistan but was residing near Khanpur for some time. Abdul Hafeez’s name is listed in a "Red Book" of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Sindh as the most wanted terrorist."
The source told that Brohi also had close links to LeJ chief Asif Chotu. Intelligence officials claim Chotu was in direct contact with Shafeeq Mengal.
Answering a question about the role of seminaries in spreading terrorism in the region, Additional IG CTD Sindh says, "there are a few seminaries who are involved in the menace, three have been shut down and the rest will be done soon."
According to official data, the total number of registered and unregistered madaris in Sindh province is 9501 including Karachi having 1252 seminaries. The number of unregistered seminaries is 3087. There are 614 seminaries in Hyderabad range, 211 in Mirpurkhas, 376 in Sukkur and 315 are in Shaheed Benazir Abad (former Nawabshah) range. The startling figure shows that a very significant number of seminaries are located in the Larkana range where terrorism-afflicted Shikarpur and Jacobabad fall. There are 6733 seminaries in Larkana out of which 1822 are unregistered.
Intelligence sources claim that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jaish-ul-Islam (JI) Jandullah and others have joined hands to carry out deadly attacks in Upper Sindh. The focus of security apparatus is mainly on major cities; therefore, terrorists embolden their foothold and select easy targets like Shikarpur and Jacobabad. "These cities are situated on the verge of two provincial borders, providing an opportunity for the terrorists to escape," says the source.