LAHORE: The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed on Monday that it had busted a cell of the militant Islamic State group operating in Sialkot, arrested eight suspects and seized weapons, explosives and laptops, as well as a large number of compact discs containing publicity material.

Investigators claimed that the suspects had taken an oath to “overthrow democracy and introduce Khilafat in Pakistan through armed struggle”. The suspects arrested by CTD belong to different districts of Punjab, but Sialkot served as the base of their operations. They had already established infrastructure in the district to carry out operations across the country.

It was, however, not clear when did the CTD bust the cell. The FIR was lodged on Monday.

Three of the suspects have received “militant training”, according to documents detailing their interrogation.

The operation, the first of its kind in the country, enabled the CTD to break the network and infrastructure of the group anywhere in Pakistan. The CTD has already shifted the suspects to an unspecified “highly secure place”.

Suspects got militant training and vowed to overthrow democracy

Interrogations show that the suspects were trying to extend their network to other parts of Punjab through recruitment.

They have been identified as Jawad Ahmad aka Abu Hafs, Amir Sohail, Ijaz Ahmad, Adnan Babar aka Danu Kabarria, Saeed Ahmad aka Abuzar, Yasir Ali, Hamza Imtiaz, and Waqas Ahmad.

Originally the suspects belonged to Jamaatud Dawa, but later joined the IS.

The arrested members of the IS had been communicating with one another through social media and Skype to avoid arrests.

DISLIKE FOR DEMOC­RACY: Initial investigations into the case reveal that the suspects were also involved in recruitment and collection of funds for the group.

“The suspects dislike democracy in Pakistan while they hate police and Pakistan Army,” official documents said.

“In order to persuade other people to join their organisation, they would show them some video clips in which the Rangers were seen shooting a young man in Karachi. The prime objective of the IS men was to fan hatred against the country’s law enforcement agencies (LEAs).”

Interrogations have revealed that IS chief Abu-Bakr Baghdadi had appointed Hafiz Saeed Khan as the group’s Emir in ‘Khorasan’ (areas comprising Iran and some parts of Afghanistan) and proposed him as Emir for Pakistan too.

The investigators believe that the suspects also planned to launch attacks against LEAs.

According to CTD investigations, the suspects were indoctrinated and recruited by two brothers — Babar Butt aka Abu Akasha and Nadeem Butt.

“They had sworn allegiance to Khalifa al Baghdadi and joined IS in Daska tehsil of Sialkot district in June this year,” the documents revealed.

The documents say Abu Akasha had facilitated contacts between the suspects and a Pakistan national, Abu Muavia Salfi, who was in charge of Pakistani militants in Syria.

The interrogations show that Waqas aka Rizwan, also member of the IS from Sialkot, had been killed in clashes with the Syrian forces.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2015



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