RAWALPINDI: Law enforcement agencies have confiscated four flags of the militant outfit known as the Islamic State fighting in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS).

The flags of the group, also known locally by its Arabic acronym ‘Daish’, were fixed to electricity poles in a closely guarded part of Taxila, near the Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF), and an investigation has been initiated to root out any sympathisers of the terrorist organisation from areas near the federal capital.

A senior Intelligence officer told Dawn that a few flags, bearing the IS monogram, were found flying near the main entrance to the POF complex, while others were spotted on nearby electricity poles.

So far, police and intelligence agencies do not know who put up the flags in the heavily-protected area. No suspects have been detained yet in connection with this matter.

“Investigators are looking at footage from surveillance cameras to try and identify those who put up the flags in this area,” he said, adding that some locals who were in the printing business had been questioned by police in a bid to identify suspects.

According to the intelligence officer, the images obtained from CCTV footage were unclear and law enforcement agencies had so far failed to obtain a positive match.

“The footage shows a number of individuals installing the flags, but investigators have not yet been able to obtain a clean image of their faces that can be matched to Nadra records,” he said.

When reached for comment, Regional Police Officer Akhtar Umar Hayat Laleka cautiously indicated that there had been reports of the presence of one such flag in the area and a team had been dispatched to investigate.

“While the team verified the incident, the flag turned out to be that of ‘some organisation’,” he said, refraining from specifically naming the IS group.

He also confirmed that police had sought the help of other investigating authorities to review the surveillance footage, but said that no clear image could be obtained.

“No evidence has been found so far that would suggest the presence of any such organisation in Rawalpindi division, nor have we detained anyone said to have links with the outfit,” RPO Laleka said.

He also denied reports that pro-IS wall-chalking had surfaced inside Rawalpindi division so far.

Another intelligence official told Dawn that there had been reports of IS flags being found from a neighbourhood in Rawalpindi, but refused to elaborate.

IS paraphernalia has been found in several parts of the country of late and pro-IS wall-chalking has also been spotted in Karachi and Khanewal. Stickers carrying pro-IS slogans were also found in Lahore on Muharram 5.

However, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in a recent press briefing, denied the presence of IS in the country, but admitted that certain local militant groups may be trying to cosy up with the middle-eastern terrorist group.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2014

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