KARACHI: More than two dozen Islamic State-inspired militants have been found operating and planning some major terror attacks in the metropolis, said an officer of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of police on Wednesday.
“There are 25 IS-inspired militants operating in the metropolis. They are planning to target foreign missions, law enforcers and shopping centres,” said CTD SSP Junaid Shaikh while addressing a press conference at his office about the killing of two IS-linked militants Mohammad Mujahid alias Talha and Abdullah alias Kuna who were gunned down in an ‘encounter’ in Gulshan-i-Maymar late Tuesday night.
When asked about the interior minister’s denial regarding the presence of IS, the officer said the militants were ‘ideologically’ linked with the IS and remained in contact with the Middle East-based outfit through ‘social media’ only.
“Previously, these militants belonged to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Al-Qaeda but now they have jumped on the IS or Daesh bandwagon,” the officer told Dawn.
Azizabad to Miranshah
Mujahid was born in Korangi in 1994 and studied at S.M. Grammar School, Korangi-3 up to Class VIII. In 2005, he joined Madressah Umer Ibn-i-Khatab, Korangi, where he became Hafiz-i-Quran in 2008, said Sindh CTD chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi.
Later, Mujahid joined Madressah Bait-ul-Islam, Azizabad, where he developed ties with militant Zia-ur-Rehman in 2009. Rehman motivated Mujahid for Jihadi training and subsequent militant activities, according to the papers obtained by Dawn. In December 2012, Rehman took Mujahid to Miranshah for training and returned to Karachi in February 2013.
Rehman, a resident of Gulshan-i-Buner, had been associated with Al-Qaeda before affirming his allegiance to Usman Ghazi, an Uzbek who was a leader of Daesh or Islamic State, in August 2015.
Earlier in May 2015, Rehman introduced Mujahid to Kamran alias Mota at a restaurant near Al-Asif Square, Sohrab Goth, who gave him Rs15,000 for routine expenses besides one ‘Lenovo Smartphone’ and taught him to communicate using ‘Zello android application,’ which was already installed on the mobile phone, said CTD chief Sanaullah Abbasi.
That mobile phone was later taken away from Mujahid by Sohail alias Mohajir, who provided him another Huawei mobile phone for communication.
“In June 2015, Mujahid and Kamran alias Mota travelled to Wadh, Balochistan, where they stayed at the Hujra of Shafiq Mengal,” said the CTD chief.
He also met Maaz at Wadh who persuaded him to work for them in Karachi, to which he agreed and returned to the city.
Again in July 2015, Mujahid along with Zia Rehman visited Wadh, Balochistan, for training, according to the CTD documents.
“From Wadh, he [Mujahid] along with 10-12 other militants was taken to a training camp somewhere in the mountains.”
After remaining two weeks in Balochistan, he returned to Karachi where he developed close ties with Sohail alias Mohajid who gave him Rs7,000 in one of their meetings.
In August 2015, according to the CTD report, Kamran alias Mota took Mujahid along with a few other individuals to Wadh in Balochistan where they pledged to join Daesh (Islamic State).
IS divided into two groups
It was during the militants’ stay in Wadh, Balochistan, that some ‘ideological differences’ emerged between members of Islamic State or Daesh that split into two groups, said the CTD papers.
The exact nature of differences is not known.
It has been pointed out that one militant, known as Baba Jee, developed differences with IS and joined hands with Maaz who was affiliated with a group led by Haji Sahib.
Kamran alias Mota along with his six-seven militants was expelled from Wadh, subsequently. Thus, Kamran alias Mota of the IS and Maaz of the Haji Group got dissociated with each other.
The CTD papers disclosed that militants were being ‘brainwashed’ in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, and Wadh, Balochistan that “the government or security forces were working for US agenda thus fighting against them was justified and part of Jihad”.
Malakand to Karachi
Born in Malakand Agency in 1991, Abdullah alias Kuna came to Karachi in 2009 and started working as a watchman and a labourer in different factories in the Mominabad area of Orangi Town.
He did not get a formal education and was addicted to hashish. However, he underwent changes in 2008 when he met his cousin, Rab Nawaz, who was linked with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat (TTS), at his native village.
He then went to Batkhela in Malakand district where he got training at a TTS camp. In 2009, it was attacked by security forces but the militants managed to escape. The same year, Abdullah along with his accomplices attacked the armed forces and two of the militants, namely Rizwan and Omer, got killed during the exchange of fire.
In another encounter, one militant and three security forces personnel got killed. The security forces later killed Rab Nawaz along with Fiaz while they were at Zafar Park in Batkhela.
The security forces then raided Abdullah’s house, but he was not present there at that time. Subsequently, he left his native town and came to Karachi along with his family.
Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2016