Al Qaeda, LeJ and TTP working hand in glove

KARACHI: ISPR Director General Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa on Friday revealed that the law enforcement agencies have successfully broken the nexus between al Qaeda (subcontinent chapter) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ).

Briefing media persons, the army spokesman said security forces have achieved a major success during the ongoing Karachi operation by arresting over 97 hardcore terrorists, including three high-value targets (HVTs). “We have broken the overall network and nexus of terrorists belonging to al Qaeda subcontinent chapter and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. They were backed by Tehreek-e-Taliban… This is a major achievement, but we have much more to do,” Bajwa said. He said the terrorists were involved in almost all major incidents of terrorism in Karachi, adding that all of them are in army’s custody.

They committed several heinous crimes, including attacks on security forces, Kamra airbase attack, Mehran airbase attack in Karachi, suicide attack on senior police officer Chaudhry Aslam, attacks on naval buses in Karachi and other incidents of terrorism, he said. About the HVTs, he said they are three hardcore terrorists – Masna, the “number two” of al Qaeda subcontinent chapter, Naeem Bukhari, the head of LJ’s Sindh chapter, and Munna, a wanted member of al Qaeda. They had head money of Rs 15 million, Rs 20 million and Rs 5 million, respectively, Bajwa said, adding that Masna was the mastermind of the June 2014 airport attack in Karachi.

The three hardcore terrorists were later presented to the media. The DG ISPR said army foiled a Hyderabad jailbreak plot by arresting the perpetrators from the city, seizing their arms and ammunition. “Several of those arrested, including Bokhari, were in the advanced stages of carrying out car bomb attack on Hyderabad Central Jail to free Ahmed Omar Sheikh,” he said. Sheikh was convicted of killing US reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Bajwa also briefed media about successes of operation Zarb-e-Azb and anti-criminal Rangers operation in Karachi.

About Zarb-e-Azb operation, he said the massive army operation has significantly helped forge regional peace. “Hideouts of terrorist were destroyed in the operation when we launched Zarb-e-Azb in June 2015… It significantly declined terrorism not only in the country but in the entire regional as well. Entire world has acknowledged it,” he said. About Rangers operation in Karachi, he said it was started in Karachi when the mega city was plagued by terrorism and street crime. “Rangers carried out 7,000 operations in Karachi, arrested at least 12,000 criminals, of whom 6,000 were handed over to police. During this operation, Rangers seized huge cache of ammunition and more than 9,000 weapons,” he elaborated.

The army spokesman claimed that Rangers operation in Karachi has resulted in major decline in crimes. “As a result of this operation, target killing has dropped by 70 percent, extortion by 85 percent and incidents of kidnapping for ransom by 90 percent in Karachi … but we still have much to do,” he said. It is noteworthy that US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart this week termed the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb and the targeted operation in Karachi successful in reducing violence in Pakistan. In a testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Vincent Stewart said “Military operation Zarb-e-Azb and targeted operation in Karachi have had some success in reducing violence and are likely to continue.” The Defence Intelligence Agency director warned Islamabad will face internal security threats from terrorists, sectarian elements and separatist groups in future.

He said Daesh Khurasan branch and al Qaeda sub-continent will remain significant security concerns for Pakistan. Vincent Stewart went on to say that Pakistan continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programme.

Stewart upheld that the country is fast improving its nuclear security and is aware of the threats posed by extremists to its nuclear arsenal. “Islamabad continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programmes.” Expressing concern over Pakistan’s evolving tactical nuclear weapons doctrine, he warned about the increasing risks of an incident associated with the growing nuclear stockpile. “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons continue to grow. We are concerned that this growth … increases the risk of an incident or accident,” the spymaster said.

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