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The nests of terrorists, tangled, untangled across Karachi, Balochistan

KARACHI: A couple of incidents across the country have raised the terrorism profile while counter terrorism actions and detection is in full throttle too, busting several viper nests and arresting...

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KARACHI: A couple of incidents across the country have raised the terrorism profile while counter terrorism actions and detection is in full throttle too, busting several viper nests and arresting several, which gave them strong clues of terrorist plots.

Earlier in March, a Chinese national working on a project in Karachi was attacked in Lyari followed by an IED attack on a Rangers mobile claiming one life. The police, Rangers and the intelligence agencies are working on different strong lines but there seems to be no headway in their investigations.

The LEAs and intelligence outfits believe several terrorist groups like BLA and SRA, brought together by RAW, are primarily involved in several incidents of terrorism in Karachi.

While Karachi is a melting pot in its own right but for terrorist strikes, the hostile agencies, primarily RAW, employs different groups for different tasks for obfuscation with cutouts in place, intelligence sources believe. The individual group only knows it’s part of the task on a need to know basis. One group conducts target reconnaissance, another provides logistics support and the third, a small hit team, conducts the execution, making the whole game of detection a little trickier.

The Sindh Revolutionary Army Karachi cell, supervised by Sajjad Shah, has so far been identified behind several attacks against Rangers and Chinese nationals. Branching away from the Burfat Group, Sajjad Shah organised the Karachi network with financial support of RAW, equipped the group with weapons and ammunition smuggled across from Balochistan through a weapons dealer. Sajjad is allegedly also wanted for killing DSP Qasim Ghori in 2013, the police sources believe.

Shah is considered as the main handler of attacks behind the China Town’s owner, whose SUV was targetted with magnetic mine, which did not go off. The same day, it is believed the same group attacked the Rangers personnel at the Karachi University, leaving some injured. Almost a week later, another Chinese national negotiating car purchase at the highway was attacked by an SRA firing squad but it clearly missed the target, and he escaped unscathed. “This group is being monitored and will be rounded up very soon,” the Sindh Police sources strongly believe.

These incidents followed a crackdown against the Sindh Revolutionary Army. SIU’s Captain (retd) Hyder Raza believes almost a dozen are on the run, while 14-15 are under arrest for attacks against government installations, robberies and narcotics. Before Sajjad Shah could be arrested in Karachi, he managed to flee to Afghanistan to join the SRA chief Asghar Shah, throwing the rest of the cell into disarray. The group is also said to have attacked the Jamaat-e-Islami rally in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The dragnet around the remnants of the cell continues to close in, and the Sindh Police are confident “they would be rounded up soon.”

Afghanistan continues to be a major hub of terrorists of all hues and stripes, handled by RAW and NDS. The Sindh Republican Army, BLA and TTP are operating from the comforts of camps located little ahead of Spin Boldak run by RAW, and another one Brahamcha on the confluence of Pak-Afghan unfenced border by NDS.

Iran, the western neighbour, strongly suspected to have recruited hitmen from Karachi, and is strongly suspected to have carried out attacks against rival ulema, Taqi Usmani who barely survived on March 22, 2019, while in December 2020 Maulana Adil Murad was attacked who unfortunately could not survive. The groups continue to evade detection. Balochistan continues to reel under terrorism from diverse groups using Afghanistan and Iran as launching pads, though some sleeper cells continue to operate from the province as well.

The intelligence sources have confirmed that the attacks on navy officials in Jiwani on March 6 were carried out by a cell led by Gulzar Shambe of the BLF. The Iranian border town of Chedgi, alongside Pakistan, hosts the Shambe’s camp. Using boats for the half-an-hour boat ride to Gwadar from Iran, he struck the PN officials and returned. The fishermen and smugglers regularly operate on this route. Shambe is also said to be involved in the previous deadly attack on the navy sailors, aboard a bus near Ormara, in 2019. Once again, RAW handlers are closely working with Shambe for assaults on security forces in Balochistan, helping with intelligence, finances, equipment and safe havens. The Quetta CTD and intelligence sources believe while Chedge is not entirely under Iranian control as their Revolutionary Guards have often been attacked, intelligence sources believe, “many times Iran’s intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials simply look the other way despite complaints and exchange of specific actionable intelligence about the terrorists, even at the highest levels from Pakistan.” Iran, Quetta Police say, since decades remains actively involved in sectarian terrorism through proxies. Iran develops their bent of mind through madrassas in Quetta and Lahore where they are instructed by Persian syllabus, a senior police officer confirmed.

In Balochistan, the attack against Seraiki labourers on March 5, intelligence sources believe, was carried out by two other cells of BLF led by Sana and Zafar. Both have been recently spotted around Turbat by the CTD. The two started working together from Panjgur with Dr Allah Nazar and Gulzar Shambe. While Nazar is now in Afghanistan, the group also sometimes operates under the conglomerate BRAS, comprising other proscribed terrorist groups i.e. BLA and BRA. All of them, Shambe, Sana, Zafar and Allah Nazar, continue to pose quite a headache and have so far been successful in evading detection and arrest.

According to CTD spokesman, five BLA terrorists were killed by the CTD Police in Mastung district and another group of the same sub-nationalists plotting to attack Quetta and other parts was busted, not just foiling their design but it provided valuable intelligence into previously unknown actors and hideouts, sleeper cells, facilitating networks and financial resources.

In January, Hazara miners were martyred in Mach during a gruesome attack by Daesh, led by Farooq Bangalzai. After being reportedly sighted in the ‘killis’ (villages) of Harnai, Bolan, Kalat at different times in the last month, Bangalzai has eventually managed to escape to Afghanistan. He was handled from Spin Boldak by Mumtaz Pehlwan, besides Maulvi Kabir. Ironically, his two other siblings who were in the same business were already killed. The latest was one Ejaz Bangalzai, who died in a clash inside Afghanistan some weeks ago. The CTD spokesman confirmed closing in on Banglazai’s group, and was confident of their capture.

But both Karachi and larger Balochistan remain in the gunsights of terrorists, the TTP group led by Noorwai Mehsud alias Mufti Asim and Daesh group with Farooq Banglazai planning to carry out serious attacks in Quetta against multiple targets, CTD and intel sources apprehend. The TTP elements have been spotted in Zhob, Loralai, who in recent IBOs have given away some strong clues about their plots in Quetta, the CTD spokesman also confirmed. Karachi also continues to be on the tenterhooks with the SRA regrouping and gearing for nasty action along with BLA, sources confirmed but added that the Sindh Police with its SIU, CTD and Rangers are in hot pursuit to avert their attacks


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