PESHAWAR, Aug 20: Pakistan is raising a new force to combat domestic and international terrorism, a senior official said.

The official, who requested anonymity, said the federal government has created the Special Investigation Group (SIG) within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to combat terrorism in the country.

“This is a highly specialised and hi-tech group, whose sole job would be to combat terrorism and other related crimes”, a senior official told Dawn.

The first batch of over 40 officers is currently being trained at the FIA Headquarters in Islamabad. The three-month- long course is coming to an end soon while the core group is expected to be on the ground in about a month-and-a-half, the official familiar with the subject said.

The SIG, according to the official, has been modelled along a similar cell within the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI experts are actively involved in training the SIG, the official said. “Obviously there is foreign assistance”, the official said.

The first batch of SIG recruits has been drawn from the Police Service of Pakistan, Intelligence Bureau, the FIA and direct recruitment through the Federal Public Service Commission. The SIG strength would be increased gradually, the official.

“No other agency has the anti-terrorism role cut out for it which has now been exclusively assigned to the SIG. We will identify our targets and then go after them”, the official said. “This is the only civilian agency dedicated to countering terrorism.”

The SIG would specialise in identifying and investigating terrorists and terrorist activities, bank frauds and informal money transaction systems like hundi. The SIG will have a computer back-up and access to computer database.

The new anti terrorism force, the official said, would be headed by a commandant under the overall command and supervision of Director General FIA. The SIG will also have regional offices in all the four provinces under the administrative command of director FIA.

All civil and military intelligence agencies will share their information on terrorism with the SIG at the FIA level. After the collation of information and sifting, tasks would be assigned on need basis to the SIG in their respective regional offices.

The official said that the SIG is being trained in various types of weapons, explosives, different techniques in questioning and interrogation, investigating terrorism, tracing bank accounts and forgeries. “It is a multifaceted job. The SIG is being trained to cope with all aspects of terrorism”, the official said.

The SIG officers have been offered handsome pay and allowance packages and other facilities to enable them to concentrate fully on their job to counter terrorism.

The official said that the SIG might if need be, seek assistance from police and other law enforcement agencies.

Reuters adds: “This is going to be a highly specialised and hi-tech force to track down terrorists and investigate acts of terrorism”, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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