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Five most wanted militants

August 18, 2011

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Police escort al Qaeda-linked militant Qari Saifullah Akhtar to a court in Karachi March 15, 2008. – Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: Heads of at least 10 militant outfits - Al-Qaeda, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and other groups operating under the umbrella of TTP - top the list of the most wanted in Islamabad.

These men are wanted for terrorism activities such as suicide attacks and kidnapping for ransom. Some of them are wanted for infamous deeds done while others are being chased because they planned attacks but were not able to carry them out.

These men have made it to the most wanted list for they are the masterminds; the brains that plotted and planned. The actual deeds in most cases were carried out by the foot soldiers of their groups - handlers, facilitators, supervisors, transporters or guides. From the latter category, the law enforcement and security agencies have arrested around 130 men.

But the brains behind the deeds are still at large and these are the ones who are the ‘most wanted’. Here is a short list of some of them:

Head of Momin Khan Group

Momin Khan is wanted for terrorism activities. Although there are some reports that he might have been killed in an attack at Kala Dhaka, these remain unconfirmed.

A native of Kala Dhaka, he established his group in the area to support TTP though intelligence reports claim that he has been operating since 9/11.

His group has played a vital role in a number of suicide bombings in the country, including in Islamabad.

In the capital, some of the attacks credited to him are the ones on police stations in Bhara Kahu, Aabpara and F-8 Markaz on June 27, 2007, July 6, 2008 and July 18, 2007 respectively. He is also accused of motivating and training suicide bombers.

According to a police officer, his trainers are known for locking blind-folded teenagers in a room filled with chickens, compelling them to crush the birds under their feet. Later, they repeat the act with their eyes open. This is part of the training they undergo.

Officials say the Momin Khan Group also ‘sold’ suicide bombers along with explosive material for prices that ranged from Rs25 million to R50 million. These suicide bombers were used in different parts of the country, including Punjab.

On October 6, 2008, a ‘purchased’ suicide bomber blew himself up at the residence of PML-N MNA Rasheed Akbar Khan Nawani in Bhakkar, killing 20 people and injuring over 53 persons, including the legislator.

Their buyers were not militants or religious extremist groups but individuals who used them for personal gains or reasons.

Asmatullah Moavia

A native of Vehari, he is wanted for kidnapping a police officer in December 2010. Credited with establishing the TTP in Punjab, he is said to have remained a member of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan in the past. As he also took part in the jihad in Afghanistan, he developed close contacts with Al-Qaeda and TTP which prompted him to establish the Punjab chapter of the latter group. These days he is operating from Miramshah.

He is also wanted for the kidnapping of Islamabad police inspector Rana Pervez and a patwari – Rana Sadique. Moavia’s brother was arrested in connection with the kidnapping though later he was released as part of a deal under which the Moavia group agreed to set the inspector free in exchange for the brother. However, the kidnappers did not keep their part of the ‘deal’.

He is also wanted for the suicide attack at Naval Complex gate on December 2, 2009, which according to investigators, was aimed at President Asif Ali Zardari. However, the suicide bomber mistakenly blew himself up when stopped by the security guard at the gate. The target of the suicide bomber had never been the Naval Complex but Zardari House.

This was disclosed by Sepoy Noor Jahan of Frontier Constabulary (FC), who was arrested on March 22, 2010, in connection with World Food Programme and Naval Complex attacks.

During his appearance before the media, he said Naval Headquarters was not the target; in fact it was the Zardari House in F-8/2. The attacker blew himself in confusion at the gate of the headquarters.

Sepoy Noor Jahan joined FC on May 2004 in the 57 Platoon. In the month of Ramazan, 2007, he along with five others was kidnapped by Taliban from Spin Tall checkpost at Hangu. Later, the FC personnel were released on 25th day of the kidnapping after brainwashing by the Taliban. During the captivity, he developed friendship with the militant group.

After the release, he again rejoined the FC and was transferred to the capital where he remained posted at different sensitive installations, including the residence of Jordanian ambassador from 2007 to 2009. He ran away from his last post at Police Line Headquarters and joined TTP.

On his suggestion, the masterminds of suicide attacks – Qari Hussain, Hafiz Said, Qari Asad of TTP and Mula Nayaz Raheem of Ghazi Force, stationed at Hiljo and Dabori at Tribal Area - planned to attack United Nations World Food Programme and Zardari House.

Noor Jahan brought the suicide jacket to the capital by wearing it under FC uniform and the bomber – Rais, a resident of Orakzai Agency – and stayed at Rehman Inn in Pirwadhai.

On the night, he took the bomber to F-8/3 and identified Zardari House which was his target. On the next day, he handed over the suicide jacket to the bomber and left the capital.

According to investigators, Moavia provides manpower to TTP and is also involved in gun running and smuggling of explosives and weapons for the banned organisation.

It is said that some years back he arranged chemicals used for making explosives for the TTP; they came from textile mills located in Punjab. The fact came out during the investigations into the suicide attack at the Marriott Hotel.

Qari Saifullah

Qari Saifullah is wanted for planning attacks on the Federal Investigation Agency Headquarters in 2009 and other sensitive installations. Seven members of the group have been arrested for planning the attacks.

Saifullah has close links with TTP and Al-Qaeda and members of his group are believed to have been trained by the Afghan Taliban while they have in turn hosted foreign militants, including Afghan Taliban.

It is believed that he is involved in the smuggling of weapons and explosives.

Other less well-known members of the TTP are also wanted by the Islamabad police for attempted suicide attacks at places such as the National Defence University, the chief commissioner office, the presidency and the prime minister’s house. Some men have also been arrested for these failed attempts.

Similarly, Al-Qaeda’s council members and senior members are also wanted for their involvement in the attacks on Marriott Hotel on January 26, 2007, September 20, 2008; the Danish Embassy on June 2, 2008; Luna Caprese (a restaurant in F-6 markaz) March 15, 2008, and Melody Chowk on July 27, 2007.

Though nine members of Al-Qaeda were arrested for this, the mastermind of the attack is still at large.

In addition, Badar Mansoor, a native of Swat, is wanted for his involvement in the Aabpara blast for which he collaborated with TTP’s Qari Hussain.

Members of Jaish-i-Mohammad group are wanted for the role they played in the attack on a church in Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave in March 2002.

Interestingly enough, the law enforcement personnel are also on the lookout for individuals about whom they have very few details. For instance, officers say they are looking for Rana Ishtiaq, Mohammad Akram, Qari Amir, Waqas Ahmad, Nisar Rahim, Ajmal, Dildar Khan and Habibullah, whom they believe to be high profile terrorists. However, apart from their names and the photos of four of them, the investigators have little else.

A request has been sent to the interior ministry to announce head money for these men and then advertise the fact but the request is still pending.

Tariq Afridi

The head of one of the major groups associated with TTP, he is wanted for the UNFPA blast on October 5, 2009. His group is based in Dara Adam Khel, near Peshawar.

It is believed that Afridi provided the men who were then used to carry out the attack on the UNFPA office; the attack was planned by the Ghazi Force.

Afridi is also wanted for kidnapping for ransom incidents in Islamabad. His group is accused of kidnapping to collect funds. Among others, he is accused of kidnapping and killing the Polish engineer.

Mullah Rahim and Mullah Faaeez

They are wanted for the attacks on the Special Branch, FC Post, Rescue-15, United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) on March 3, 2009, April 4, 2009 and October 5, 2009, respectively and their unsuccessful terrorist activity at Adiala jail to set their members free in 2009.

Natives of Orakzai Agency, the two men studied at Jamiah Faridiya. Both were known to be close to the naib khateeb of Lal Masjid, Ghazi Abdul Rasheed. During the military operation against the Lal Masjid administration in 2007, they reportedly fought the security forces and managed to escape during the last days of action.

According to reports, they left for their native town in Orakzai Agency where they set up the Ghazi Force and vowed to avenge the attack on Lal Masjid and the killing of Ghazi Abdul Rasheed.

In addition to the terrorist activities they are alleged to have carried out in the capital, the group is also accused of attacks on the army convoy in Orakzai Agency, blowing up schools in Swat and a suicide attack in Buner during the recent by-election.