‘Militant held for bank heists, murders’ claims he joined Jundullah to fight ethnic party

Updated April 13, 2019

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Ishaq was neighbour of banned LJ chief Atta Rehman in Paposh Nagar.
Ishaq was neighbour of banned LJ chief Atta Rehman in Paposh Nagar.

KARACHI: A suspected militant linked with banned Jundullah claimed that he had joined the militant outfit because of the workers of an “ethnic” party, who collected protection money from area shopkeepers and had beaten him up several times, it emerged on Friday.

The suspect, Mohammad Ishaq alias Gul, was arrested at the Cantonment Railway Station a day before by the Counter-Terrorism Department.

CTD official Raja Umar Khattab said that the suspect also had religious tendencies as he was one of the neighbours of Atta Rehman alias Naeem Bukhari, the chief of banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Ishaq was neighbour of banned LJ chief Atta Rehman in Paposh Nagar

He was arrested for his alleged involvement in bank robberies, kidnapping for ransom and killings of policemen.

According to the contents of an initial probe reviewed by Dawn on Friday, the suspect was born in Paposh Nagar in 1986 and got education up to fourth standard. Later, he started working at a mechanic shop owned by his brother at age 10 and worked there for 12-14 years.

The militant told the investigators that at that time workers of an ethnic party allegedly extracted extortion and they used to beat ordinary people and shopkeepers in Paposh Nagar.

They had also beaten him up three or four times. He said he asked a friend that he could fight against the ethnic activists if he got support from any other organisation.

Trained in Waziristan

He said his friend arranged a meeting between him and Jundullah militant Qasim Toori in 2006. Toori initially hired him as a driver and subsequently sent him to Waziristan for militant training.

He told the interrogators he abandoned the work at the shop. He was married at his native village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and started driving a school van there.

He along with three other citizens of Karachi and others mostly hailing from Punjab got training of operating light machine-gun, Kalashnikov, pistol, use of hand grenade for around 20-25 days. Later, Toori brought him back to Karachi.

The militant told the investigators that he along with other members of the outfit were in 2006 arrested by police in Dera Ismail Khan for a scuffle during snap-checking of their vehicle and he had to spend a month in prison. He was released after the policemen with whom he fought with “pardoned” him.

He said as soon as he got out of prison he saw his brother waiting there. He started slapping him and forcibly brought him to Karachi, he added.

Al Qaeda man behind Jundullah

Mr Khattab believed that Al Qaeda leader Hamza Jofi had formed Jundullah in 2003-4 to carry out terrorist attacks in Karachi alone.

Later, they carried out a deadly attack on the Gulistan-i-Jauhar police station where they killed policemen to take their weapons.

“Jundullah was the first militant outfit which used mobile phones to detonate bombs,” he said. This outfit had also carried out twin blasts in the city outside a hotel and a culture centre. They had also prepared a vehicle and planted in it 500 litres of a chemical to attack the US consulate general, but it malfunctioned.

The CTD official said that after the attack on the then Karachi corps commander, several members of the outfit were arrested. Subsequently, a new team of Jundullah was established which started carrying out bank robberies and kidnappings for ransom to generate funds.

In one such incident, 12 militants travelling in three cars had looted banks in Saudabad where they gunned down a policeman and a passer-by.

The CTD official pointed out that in 2010 several members of the outfit were arrested for their involvement in the Ashura blast, a bomb attack on the Chehlum procession at the Nursery flyover and a blast outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. However, other Jundullah militants got some of their accomplices released from the City Courts after an encounter.

Khattab believed that after the killing of Hamza Jofi in a drone attack in 2012, the decline of Jundullah had begun and after military courts sentenced Atta Rehman and Qasim Toori to death, the outfit had almost become defunct in Karachi.

He revealed that a purported spokesman for the group, Ahmed Marwat, tended to claim false responsibility of the terrorist attacks carried out by other groups.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019