By: Dr. Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari
Dated: April 28, 2015
The Ministry of Interior (MoI), Pakistan, has been informed by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and security agencies of the country that there is a high risk of sectarian terror attacks following Pakistan’s support to Saudi Arabia against Houti rebels in Yemen. The report sent to the MoI further states that sectarian outfits in the city have planned targeted assassination of their opponents. Subsequently, the Karachi LEAs are conducting targeted operations and keep a strict vigil over the activities of such outfits.
Due to the evolving political and security tension in the Gulf region, followed by Pakistan’s official pronouncements in favour of Saudi Arabia and its allies, the federal and provincial LEAs are providing regular feedback to the MoI. At present, the Sipah-e-Muhammad (SeM), a Shia outfit battling against their Sunni extremist rivals, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – which has been renamed as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – and its militant wing, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), maintains the strongest network in the city. The SeM also receives support from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party immensely popular in Karachi. Since the MQM is already under severe stress, being a target of the security operation going on in Karachi since late 2013, therefore it wants to fan sectarian violence in the city to divert the attention of the LEAs away from it. It is on record that many target killers belonging to the MQM have recently conceded their involvement in killing sectarian leaders in the city. It has been found that some target killers of the MQM work for SeM as well. The recent arrests of MQM target killers like Shafqat of Orangi Sector, Asad Abbas of North Nazimabad sector, Nadir Bachanga of Baladia sector, Nadeem aka Kawwa of Lines Area sector, Adeel aka Aslam of Gulbahar sector, Muhammad Shakeel aka Haddi of Qasba Aligarh sector and Sharfuddin aka Sharfu of Orangi sector have admitted in their confessional statements that they have targeted sectarian leaders. The above mentioned report submitted to the MoI also expressed the fear that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda-linked Jundullah may also intensify their activities in order to benefit from the complexity that could be created due to sectarian violence.
The MoI report states that SeM maintains active network in 10 localities in Karachi. Among them, Abbas Town is one such locality which assumes significance since the target killers of SeM stays there. The report estimates that there are more than 20 target killers present in the Abbas Town locality presently, which are being lead by Tauqeer Raza. The report states that Raza has been assigned to intensify sectarian attacks in the city and his targets include religious clerics belonging to Deoband school of thought, SSP and LeJ activists. Similarly, target killing teams in the remaining nine aresa have been assigned similar targets. These target killers are being instructed by Raza Imam, an absconding terrorist, who is believed to be operating in Iran. It has been noticed that after committing terrorist attacks, SeM target killers immediately escape to either Parachinar in Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) or to Iran via Balochistan Province of Pakistan.
SeM’s Presence in Karachi
In Abbas Town, the groups of Tauqeer Raza and Syed Mohsin Rizvi aka Guddu are active, while groups of Zulqarnain Haider and Ali Mehdi are active in the Sadaat Colony of Ancholi area of Karachi. In Gulbahar Rizvia Society area, the groups of Rashid aka Ali Asad and Raza Imam aka Muntazir area active while Kashif Abbas’s group is active in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Similarly, SeM groups are active in Korangi Quarters, Qasba Colony and Jaffar Tayyar Society in Malir locality which are headed by Ali Hassan, Sarfaraz Ahsan, Abbas Raza and Syed Mohib Ali Rizvi respectively. In Shah Faisal Colony and adjoining areas, Syed Muhammad Askari Abidi is active while Syed Asif Hassan Zaidi and Syed Qalb Abbas Kazmi are active in Al-Noor Society in Federal-B Area and Soldier Bazaar respectively.
The report further stated that security of Saudi Arabia’s Consulate General has been increased in Karachi. It is important to mention that the Consulate has been attacked twice in the past, and SeM terrorists were arrested in this respect who confessed to their involvement in the said attacks.
The Sindh government has directed the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Crimes Investigation Department (CID) to increase their targeted operations in the above mentioned areas to ward off any terrorist attacks by SeM and strict vigilance is being observed.
According to police reports, two major targeted operations were conducted against SeM militants. In one such operation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in 2014, Karachi police arrested a five-member group of SeM. The arrests suspects were Syed Furqan aka Baba Jee, Faisal Mahmood, Syed Abu Turab, Syed Rifaat Hussain Jaffari and Azhar Hussain aka Faraaz. During interrogation, the said arrested suspects gave information on some notorious SeM militants like Raza Imam, Rashid, Sulaiman and Tanveer Abbas, who were responsible for sending SeM recruits for training to Iran and arranging their funding from Iran as well. In the second such operation conducted by CTD of the CID, two important terrorists of SeM, namely Johar Hussain aka Jaffar aka Rehman and Irshad Hussain aka Amir aka Hussain were arrested, who confessed to have received terrorist training for one month in Iran. They further confessed that the mastermind of SeM’s terrorist operations in Karachi is Syed Waseem Ahsan Naqvi who receives funds from Iran, and had sent them for training to Iran from Karachi to Dubai from where they made further journey to Iran.
The report submitted to the MoI states that each group of SeM comprises of roughly 16 to 17 terrorists who operate in a very organized manner. These target killers are paid a monthly salary. It was also reported that other terrorist outfits belonging to extremist Sunni faith have also become active in Karachi. The Sunni sectarian outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is active in Drug Road area, Korangi Industrial Estate area, New Karachi, Patel Para, orth Nazimabad, Lines Area and Korangi Nasir Colony.
Similarly, Jundullah is active in Landhi Majeed Colony, Sarjani, Khuda ke Basti, Korangi Bilal Colony and Malir Khokhrapar. The TTP is active in Manghopir, Sultanabad, Kaimari, Gulshan Sikandarabad, Sohrab Goth, Landhi Future Colony, Mansehra Colony, Korangi Road, Qayum Abad, Manzoor Colony, Baladia Ittehad Town and other adjoining areas. As a result, the LEAs have increased their vigilance in the area and efforts are made to increase targeted operations against religious outfits.