KARACHI: The man who blew himself up at a Mastung election rally on July 13 and killed nearly 150 people, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate Siraj Raisani, was a student at a seminary in Karachi before being shifted to Afghanistan along with his family, where he got militancy training, it emerged on Friday.

The alleged suicide bomber has been identified by authorities as Hafeez Abbasi, a young man in his early 20s.

Sources in the Sindh police’s Counter-Terrorism Department told Dawn that their counterparts in Balochistan had shared with them a preliminary report of the suicide explosion and they carried out further work here.

Law enforcers believe IS is flourishing in Pak-Afghan border area

The CTD-Quetta had provided fingerprints of an unclaimed body to the CTD-Sindh to match it with the record of the National Database and Registration Authority. It transpired that the alleged suicide bomber was a resident of Gharibabad Mohalla in Dhabeji, Thatta.

A special CTD team was immediately sent there on July 17 and to their utter surprise, his father, Mohammed Nawaz, without any hesitation told them that his son Hafeez had been shifted to Afghanistan’s Spin Boldak area.

Three sisters, two brothers living in Afghanistan

Mr Nawaz, who is living with another son, Haq Nawaz, in Thatta also told the CTD team that not only Hafeez but his wife, his two other sons and three daughters had also been shifted to Afghanistan.

The family originally hailed from Molia village in Abbottabad.

They said that Abbasi had studied at a seminary in Shah Faisal Colony for three years where he adopted the path toward militancy. His certain colleagues at the seminary were instrumental in motivating him towards militancy and they allegedly sent him to Afghanistan.

The sources disclosed that as per information provided by his father, his three daughters, who had been shifted to Afghanistan, were ‘Alima’ (religious scholars) and two of them had married IS militants there.

His two more sons, Abdul Aziz and Abdul Shakoor, were also living in Afghanistan, they said, adding that Shakoor recently told his father that now “it’s his turn” to become a suicide bomber, said the sources.

Abbasi’s eldest sister was married and lived with her family in their hometown in Abbottabad.

The suspected bomber’s father along with his son used to sell milk and vegetables in the Dhabeji area.

The CTD sources said that the father did not show any remorse or express any feeling of sadness when they informed him that his son had carried out a suicide attack in the Mastung rally.

Links with former Karachi TTP chief

The father told the CTD that Abbasi was working with Haji Daud there.

A CTD official told Dawn, on the condition of anonymity, that Haji Daud, also known as Daud Policewala, was a policeman in Karachi till mid-2000. He was also appointed as the city chief of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by now slain Mullah Fazlullah.

The official said they got reports that Haji Daud had developed differences with Mullah Fazlullah as he joined the militant Islamic State group. He was also reportedly injured in a clash with TTP militants there.

The sources said that the CTD officials got the mobile phone number of Hafeez from his father and by using latest technology they came to know that he had arrived in Chaman from Afghanistan on June 29.

He was also in touch with at least nine persons, including three belonging to Sindh, they added.

The alleged bomber was later moved to Qila Abdullah and subsequently to Mastung, where he had carried out the suicide attack on Siraj Raisani’s election rally.

The CTD-Sindh informed their counterparts in Balochistan about Abbasi’s alleged handler in Qila Abdullah and his local facilitator in Mastung.

Important arrests made

In Karachi and Thatta, the sources added that law enforcement agencies conducted raids and made “some important arrests”.

A CTD official feared that Abbasi’s younger brother Shakoor, who is a teenager, might carry out a terrorist attack.

The official, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that they had arrested some members of the IS network in Karachi.

He added that concerted efforts were under way to ‘dismantle’ the group before it could strike again in the country.

The CTD official believed that IS was “actively flourishing and being patronised by foreign intelligence agencies” in Spin Boldak “to sabotage the election process, trigger destabilisation in the country and to mainly target CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor- related activities”.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2018