KARACHI: The Counter-Terrorism Department of Sindh police has prepared a consolidated list of websites, web pages and social media accounts spreading extremism and terrorism, it emerged on Wednesday.
The CTD has written a letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Federal Investigation Agency and other authorities for closing/banning of such websites, web pages and social media accounts to foil the designs of banned militant organisations.
“We have identified 25 such websites, which were involved in spreading religious and ethnic extremism and terrorism,” said Additional IG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi heading the CTD.
He said the CTD had sent a list of 25 sites with the recommendation that they should be banned by the PTA. These sites were linked with banned organisations or promoting radical thought, he added.
Although not all the websites were spreading terror, they were promoting radical thought and it was the assessment of the CTD that such sites often acted as ‘entry sites’ for individuals who were easily influenced to join extremist groups, he added.
Dr Abbasi said on the CTD’s recommendations, the relevant authorities had banned some websites including those which ‘misrepresented’ the teachings of the Holy Quran, condemned those religious scholars who did not support the extremist point of view, and were actively promoting intolerance by pronouncing controversial decrees.
The officer said there were certain social media pages on Facebook which were glorifying Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and other extremist groups. Such pages must be banned, he added.
Radicalisation on a massive scale
Dr Abbasi was of the opinion that indoctrination and radicalisation of youths, both male and female, was being done on a massive scale through the internet. “Internet has provided [them] space for radicalisation,” apprehended the CTD chief. This had been previously done in the Western countries and at present the extremist outfits were focusing on the radicalisation of youths in Pakistan, he added.
However, the officer agreed that dissemination of such content might continue even if those pages were shut down. For this reason, there was a need for a “continuous struggle” against extremism and terrorism to purge the society of all such elements, he added.
The CTD said ‘Umar Media’ was the account of banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. A video was broadcasted by Fazlullah Khorasani in which he had given the task to militants for attacks in the cities of Pakistan. It was pointed out that in one such post the TTP claimed responsibility for an attack on the army in Lahore. Fazlullah had claimed that the TTP had been planning such an attack for some time.
According to CTD data of such social media accounts, a Facebook ID account has been opened with the name of ‘Samma News’. This was used to create a page “Liwa Zainebiyoun” by a contingent of Pakistani Shia fighters in Syria. The CTD apprehended that it could emerge as a sectarian militant group.
Another website active in the name of Jaishul Adl had claimed the responsibility for an attack in which nine Iranian border guards were killed and two others were wounded during patrolling along the Pakistan-Iran border on April 26, 2017.
Another Facebook account was of Pashtunistan Liberation Army-PLA, created by Umar Daud Khattak. It claimed to have launched an ‘armed struggle against Pakistan’, as it was posing “provocative activities” against the state. It appeared to be a new militant organisation advocating the creation of a separate state of ‘Pashtunistan’, said the CTD.
The CTD said that one website, which was allegedly related to a mosque in Bahawalpur, was spreading messages about so-called jihad.
Another website was involved in spreading the message ‘Shariat ya Shahadat’.
The CTD said that many people had contacted them through messages for joining ‘jihad’.
Fighters in Syria
Meanwhile, SSP CTD Omer Shahid Hamid told Dawn that many people from Pakistan, including Karachi, had gone to fight in Syria belonging to both Sunni and Shia communities. There were reports that some families might have returned from Syria and Iraq but their assessment was that active fighters would not return before an end to the conflict in Syria. The case of Afghan war indicated that the jihadi elements returned to their countries after the end of the conflict there, he added.
Therefore, he said, it was their apprehension that sectarianism might increase in Pakistan after the return of these fighters belonging to both sects.
SSP Omer Shahid said the CTD also found “Pakhtun ethnic extremism” active on social media. However, he said that they had not probed it further as it did not belong to the Sindh province. The CTD recommended to the authorities concerned to keep a watch on such activities, added SSP Shahid.
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2017