KARACHI: Five militants of the recently formed Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), including its Karachi chief and deputy chief, were killed in an alleged encounter in Orangi Town in the early hours of Monday, according to police.
The officials claimed to have unearthed a bomb-making factory and seized a huge quantity of explosive material, three suicide jackets, laptop and some documents during the raid which was conducted on information about the alleged hideout of AQIS militants in the Khairabad area.
The police said the suspects were involved in the suicide attack on Rangers officials at Qalandria Chowk in North Nazimabad last month and were planning further attacks on security agencies.
The documents, laptop and other material found at the hideout helped the police in identification of the suicide bomber, a 20-year-old Bengali, who had attacked the Rangers personnel, said DIG of the Counter-Terrorism Department Mohammed Arif Hanif.
“The bomber, identified as Arif alias Wahaj, happened to be the student of one of the biggest seminaries in the metropolis,” the DIG said.
Rangers suicide attacker identified as student of ‘prominent seminary’
Sharing details of the raid with the media during a press conference at the CTD Civil Lines office, the officer said that when a police team headed by CTD official Raja Umer Khattab conducted the targeted raid, the suspects tried to flee by resorting to firing and attacking the armoured personnel carrier of police with hand grenades.
“The CTD team and Special Security Unit commandos encircled the militants. In an ensuing exchange of intense fire, five militants were killed,” said DIG Hanif.
He said the deceased were identified as Karachi AQIS head Noor-ul-Hasan alias Hashim alias Bhai Jan alias Babu Bhai, his deputy Usman alias Irfan alias Abdullah, and Ibrahim alias Rafiq alias Awais.
The CTD chief said the identity of the two other suspects could not be ascertained immediately, but the police had reason to believe that they were ‘suicide bombers’. They had come from the Helmand province of Afghanistan just two months ago, according to CTD official Khattab.
“The laptop and other documents seized from the bomb-making factory revealed many things,” he said. One of the findings was that the motorcycle used in the March 2 attack on the Rangers had been prepared there, he added. Then “a video of the suicide bomber recorded before the attack was also seized,” he said.
The suicide bomber, Arif alias Wahaj, was a resident of Bilal Colony, Korangi, and a student of a prominent seminary, said the CTD chief without disclosing its name.
According to the officer, the Karachi chief of the AQIS was an expert in preparing bomb-laden two- and four-wheelers. He had been associated with different ‘Jihadi organizations’ since 1999. Due to these credentials, he had been made the head of the AQIS in Karachi.
It was Noor-ul-Hasan alias Hashim alias Bhai Jan alias Babu Bhai, who had prepared the bomb-laden motorbike, which was used in the attack on the Rangers.The CTD chief said the AQIS had been established by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri who had appointed Asim Umer, a former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan commander, its first chief. It took Al-Qaeda two years to set up AQIS in which members of all Jihadi organisations were recruited. At present, militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahidin Al-Almi were leading AQIS in Karachi, according the CTD. They had assumed the AQIS leadership after being ‘released’ from prisons where they had remained incarcerated for ‘years’.
“The AQIS has focussed on recruiting Burmis and Bengalis for carrying out terror attacks,” believed the CTD officer who has extensive experience in dealing with terror cases.
The group had also been involved in terror attacks on police and paramilitary force including the Feb 4 bomb attack on Rangers personnel near DC West office, attacks on police vans in Korangi and Ibrahim Hyderi, and an attack on a police post in Bilal Colony, killing of a political party worker Khurshid Pathan, murder of a policeman Abdul Razzaq, Siraj Bihari, Alam Muchhar and Syed Zakir Shah.
DIG Hanif said the police also seized a ‘target list’ from the hideout, indicating that their next targets were personnel of security agencies, Rangers and police.
The CTD chief said it was the AQIS that had claimed responsibility of the botched terror attack on Dockyard in September 2014.
Soon after the launch of Operation Zarb-i-Azab, AQIS relocated from Waziristan to Helmand province.
“AQIS terrorists are provided assistance in Helmand from where they travel to Chaman, Quetta, Shikarpur and Karachi,” said DIG Hanif.
CTD official Khattab told Dawn that the AQIS had done a recce from Malir Halt to airport to Toll Plaza to target Rangers, police and others. “Their network also existed in the University of Karachi,” he said, while referring to some clues retrieved from the laptop.
The suicide bomber in the Rangers attack case was a Bengali-speaking youngster, who had been handed over to the AQIS in Helmand, Mr Khattab said, adding that a card found from the hideout showed that he had remained a student of the Karachi seminary.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2015