A key suspect involved in the bloody suicide attack targeting the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan earlier this year was arrested at an unspecified date in a joint operation conducted by the Rangers and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Manghopir, it was announced today.
CTD Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Amir Farooqi announced the arrest on Friday at a joint CTD-Rangers press conference in Karachi.
A cache of weapons and explosive material was recovered from the possession of the terrorist, identified as Nadir Ali alias Murshid Jakhrani by DIG Farooqi.
Farooqi revealed that Nadir is the son of a landlord in Kashmore district who had been associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in the past. The planning of the blast was carried out by Ghulam Mustafa Mazari alias Doctor — a close relative of Lal Masjid clerics — who was killed in an earlier operation in Mastung, Balochistan, he said.
Nadir had first met Mazari when he arrived to his village in Kashmore in 2009. The two then grew close and Nadir visited Mazari in the latter's village Abdullah, Rojhan Mazari in Punjab.
Nadir also invited Lal Masjid cleric Ghazi Abdul Rasheed's sons Haroon and Haris to his village along Mazari. He then went to Rajanpur where he joined Lashka-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) after being briefly enrolled in Rajanpur's commerce college.
He was later introduced to other members of LeJ and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.
He also visited Karachi and Quetta where he met other members of the banned organisation, including Saeed Badiani alias Taqwa, who was involved in the attack on Shah Noorani shrine and was later killed in a CTD operation, Farooqi claimed.
Nadir then joined the militant Islamic State (IS) group which he was associated with when the Sehwan blast occurred.
DIG Farooqi disclosed that the militants communicated through a "highly secure" messaging application called Threema.
The deadly attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, which was claimed by the IS, had resulted in the deaths of at least 88 people and left at least 150 others wounded.
Following the bloodbath, the army had launched Operation Raddul Fasaad, saying it was aimed at eliminating the "residual/latent threat of terrorism".
'Foreign elements involved in terrorism'
DIG Farooqi said the foothold of IS had been weakened in Pakistan after several operations targeting its operatives.
"After the Mastung Operation, one by one their [IS] militants are being captured. Today, [the key suspect in the shrine attack] has been arrested. They have become very weak here," the DIG CTD said.
"Their people have escaped and the group's presence is found across the border in Afghanistan," Farooqi said.
"They (IS) were not operating here. The group's elements used to be associated with various political parties, primarily the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Then they went towards IS," he added.
"Foreign elements are definitely involved in incidents of terrorism ─ they fund, train and assign targets to these groups," he said.
However, the DIG said that the army's operations had limited the group.
"They have been eliminated now," he claimed.