LAHORE: An illegal gateway exchange allegedly being operated by Al Qaeda network has been busted and six suspects, including four women, have been taken into custody, according to sources in an intelligence agency.

They said personnel of the intelligence agency in collaboration with those of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Lahore Elite Police (LEP) raided a house in the Green Town area of the city at 7.30am on Tuesday.

The sources said the exchange might have been used for telephonic conversations in connection with the kidnapping of US national Dr Warren Weinstein, Shahbaz Taseer, Ali Musa Gilani and some other important personalities.

They said that hundreds of thousands of cellphone SIMs, telephone lines, equipment, weapons and explosives had been seized from the house.

Media reports quoting intelligence sources said the name of the exchange was ‘International Technical Hub’ which usually showed identities and signals from Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. The surprise raid terrorised people of the locality because security personnel had cordoned off the entire area. The raid was kept secret and media personnel were not allowed to cover it when they reached the place.

Acting CCPO Mohammad Tahir Rai told Dawn that the Lahore police had not taken a part in the raid.

He, however, added that LEP personnel were called by some officials.

The names of the suspects have not been released. Intelligence personnel took them first to the Green Town police station and later to an undisclosed place. The sources said the suspects would likely be interrogated about the phone calls involving high-profile cases of kidnapping for ransom and extortions.

They said the suspects belonged to Dawood and Hassan Gull terrorist groups which had links with Al Qaeda.

People in the locality told Dawn that the raided property belonged to one Ajmal Shah who had left for the US a few days ago.

They said Ajmal Shah who had been living in the locality for over 15 years had rented out some portions of his property.

They said intelligence personnel searched five to seven houses and frisked many people, adding that they were especially checking cellphones and SIMS.

Opinion

Editorial

Course correction
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

Course correction

PTI should not abandon its power and responsibility while expecting an external stakeholder to set things right.
The plot thickens
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

The plot thickens

THE recent explosive allegations by Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, have thrust the...
Trigger-happy police
24 Feb, 2024

Trigger-happy police

ARE the citizens of Karachi becoming fair game again? There were some grisly signs of a rapid return to living...
What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...