KARACHI, May 27: A boy kidnapped by a Facebook friend in the city was recovered safely in Hub on Monday and four suspected kidnappers were killed in a shootout, police and family sources said.
The police said they believed it was the first case of kidnapping orchestrated through social media in the metropolis, and the boy’s mother cautioned parents of youngsters using social media against cybercrime.
Mustafa Dossal, 13, was kidnapped by his Facebook friend Taimur Alvi, 25, on Friday. He later handed his target to ‘Lyari gangsters’, who demanded Rs50 million from the family as a ransom, the police said.
A joint team of the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) led by SSP Niaz Khoso and the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) led by Ahmed Chinoy raided their hideout in Hub and killed four suspected kidnappers in an exchange of fire. An accomplice of the kidnappers and two policemen were also wounded in the shooting.
Speaking at a press conference with family members of the rescued boy and later talking to Dawn, AVCC SSP Niaz Khoso and CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy said kidnap victim Mustafa, son of Rizwan Dossal, an arms dealer, had become friends with a boy of his age on Facebook around six months ago.
Mustafa was studying in a noted private school in Defence Phase-II. His Facebook friend was Saad Alvi, around 12. But his elder brother, Taimur Alvi, took over the friendship.
The SSP said Mustafa knew that Taimur was older than him, but the family assumed that he had friendship with a boy of the same school.
On Friday (May 24), Taimur invited Mustafa to lunch at his home in Defence Phase-IV. The boy informed his family that after exams he would go to his friend’s and would come home late. The suspect picked up Mustafa outside his school at 11am and took his target to Lyari in a car from where he drove him to the Hub area outside the city where four kidnappers took Mustafa to their hideout and chained him there.
On Friday night, the family received a call from the suspects demanding Rs50 million as a ransom for the release of the boy.
The family got panicked and approached the CPLC and the AVCC later in the night. The family received two and three more ransom calls on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“We kept on investigating the case and also sought help from the school’s internal committee,” said the CPLC chief.
SSP Khoso said the police also got help from the surveillance camera installed at the school.
“Taimur had uploaded his photos with girls on Mustafa’s Facebook ID,” said the official. He said they traced Taimur as his picture was discernable in the secret camera footage. The last call on Mustafa’s mobile phone was also made by him.
The police tracked down Taimur Alvi in Phase-IV late Sunday night. The suspect told the police that he had handed over the victim to a Lyari gangster group that in return promised to give him a share in the ransom amount.
“The AVCC-CPLC team got help from the Rapid Response Force (RRF), who provided 100 personnel for conducting a raid in Hub,” said the SSP.
“When we reached the hideout, the suspects opened intense fire on us, resulting in injuries to two policemen,” said the official. Taimur also sustained bullet wounds in a leg. When the police returned fire, four suspected kidnappers were killed. Four Kalashnikov assault rifles were found in their possession.
Two of the dead suspects were later identified as Imtiaz, son of Mohammad Azam Baloch, and Majid, son of Ahmed Baloch.
The CPLC chief said he believed that it was a sensitive operation as experience suggested that if the kidnapper was an acquaintance, the life of the victim was in danger.
The AVCC chief said Taimur was the son of a retired customs collector. He said the suspect had failed matriculation and subsequently dropped out.
The wounded suspect told the investigators that he came into contact with the gangsters when he took his younger brother to his examination centre in Lyari.
So far his criminal record has not been found and he (Taimur) told the police that this was his first such crime, according to the police.
Meanwhile, Mustafa’s mother during the press conference urged parents to exercise caution when their children used social media. With tears in her eyes, she asked parents “not to let your children become friends with strangers on Facebook”.
Wounded Taimur was admitted to the Civil Hospital Karachi while the two policemen, Jamil and Rafiq, were referred to the PNS Shifa hospital for treatment.
SSP Khoso said he believed it was the first case of kidnapping in Karachi hatched through social media.
The RRF, a highly trained force of the police, was set up by former Sindh police chief Sultan Salahuddin Baber Khattak in 2009. In the force, there are around 5,000 policemen who have been trained by the army.
“The success of the AVCC in safe recovery of kidnapped victims mainly depends on the courage and efforts of the RRF,” admitted SSP Khoso.
He said the personnel were also called ‘police commandos’ and whenever the joint team of the CPLC and AVCC raided a place, they tended to approach the IG police to seek help of the RRF personnel, who have expertise in dealing with such difficult situations.