BRIEFS

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 32

PAKISTANI SECURITY SWEEP SEIZES TALIBAN LEADERS IN KARACHI
 
Pakistani security forces have announced the arrest of Akhtar Zaman Mahsud, the alleged Amir of the Karachi branch of the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) as part of a major sweep of terrorist suspects in the strategically important port city.
 
Security forces claimed Akhtar Zaman was arrested in Karachi’s eastern suburb of Sohrab Goth following an October 18 shootout with police. However, some police sources and members of the largely Pashtun Sohrab Goth community insisted Akhtar Zaman was actually arrested in a raid on a supermarket on September 14 (The News [Islamabad], October 21; PakTribune, October 20). The alleged TTP commander and three others arrested with him (including Samiullah, a.k.a. Shamim, Fazal Kareem and Munawar Khan) were charged with involvement in an unsuccessful attack on the Kemari Oil Terminal on the night of September 14. One Islamabad daily quoted an anonymous senior police source as saying, "If we produce an accused before the court after 24 hours of his arrest, it becomes a case of habeas corpus, so normally police show the arrests of accused a day prior to their production in the court" (The News, October 21).
 
A police official said the suspects also wanted to plant explosives in police installations and other sensitive points in Karachi. According to police, the men were armed with 75kg of cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine (RDX) explosives, three Kalashnikov assault rifles and a TT-model pistol, commonly used as a police sidearm in Pakistan but also made by the gunsmiths of the Khyber region. The seizure followed a larger one last week, which netted two suicide jackets, four Kalashnikovs, 17 hand grenades, nine detonators and a variety of ammunition for mortars, RPGs and rifles. Police claim these weapons belonged to the same Karachi cell of the TTP (Daily Times, October 19).
 
Further raids by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Sindh police on October 21 resulted in the arrest of Muhammad Sahib Khan (a.k.a. Qasai) in Sohrab Goth, as well as two accomplices in other parts of the city. According to police, Muhammad Sahib Khan confessed to being tied to a Swat-based TTP commander named Farooq. He was found in possession of a suicide vest and was already wanted by police for involvement in murders, assassinations, kidnappings and attacks on security services. Police charged Muhammad Sahib Khan and his accomplices with “trying to establish a Taliban network in Karachi,” as well as “plotting terrorist activities, including suicide bombings.” They were also accused of destroying schools in the Swat valley (The News, October 21; Dawn [Karachi], October 21).
 
According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, some 60 second-level Taliban leaders evaded the government’s offensive in Swat earlier this year by traveling by train in small groups to Karachi, where the Karachi TTP arranged for their transit by plane to various points in the Gulf states (Daily Times [Lahore], October 19). The transfer went unnoticed because many natives of Malakand work in these same Middle Eastern states.
 
Mahsudi tribesmen who have fled the turmoil in their native South Waziristan for Karachi suburbs like Sohrab Goth report shakedowns by local police who threaten to arrest them as TTP members, as well as marginalization by government agencies on the basis of ethnicity, which local elders claim threatens to drive peaceful Mahsudis into the arms of the Taliban (The News, October 21). Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Pervez Kayani took the unusual step of writing an open letter to the Mahsud tribe, assuring them that the current operations in South Waziristan were aimed only at terrorists rather than the tribe as a whole (The Hindu, October 19).
 
Though it lies over 1,000 miles from the military operations in the tribal regions of northwestern Pakistan, the port of Karachi has become a target of Taliban and al-Qaeda associated militants since April, when members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorist group were detained while planning attacks on local transportation firms responsible for shipping supplies destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan. A campaign of threats and bombings is intended to disrupt the NATO supply chain, which relies on Pakistani companies and drivers to transport supplies along the 1,200 mile route from Karachi to the Khyber Pass.  Karachi, the starting point of the route, was once regarded as a safe port, but recently it has been subject to infiltration by Taliban and al-Qaeda sabotage units. Earlier this month security forces arrested five members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorist group who were planning attacks on transportation firms responsible for shipping NATO supplies to Peshawar. This followed a similar roundup of militants last January after they threatened transporters not to carry NATO supplies.
 
The new Karachi Taliban leader, who gave an interview to the Daily Times on condition of anonymity, said the local TTP chapter was in accord with the ideology of TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud but was not authorized to carry out operations (Daily Times, October 19).

SENIOR AL-QAEDA COMMANDER ABU YAHYA AL-LIBI CONDEMNS PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE "CRIMINAL ARMY OF PAKISTAN"
 
Establishing al-Qaeda’s battle is about establishing universal “servitude to God,” according to senior al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al-Libi who has expressed pride in the fact that his movement has no other agenda: “We are not a group that is concerned with finding economic solutions. We are not a group that is concerned with building skyscrapers. We are not a group that is concerned with finding solutions to social problems. All these problems were a result of people’s deviations, and occurred after the people agreed to become servants to other than God, the Great and Almighty.” The message was contained in a 45 minute video of al-Libi’s sermon on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in September and posted to the web on October 27 (Al-Sahab Establishment for Media Production/Al-Fajr Media Center).  
 
Typical of al-Qaeda and Taliban statements, al-Libi’s sermon heaped abuse upon President Obama, referring to him as a “black crow” who delivered a speech in Cairo while people clapped for him “as if he were Umar bin Abd al-Aziz” (an early 8th century Ummayad caliph renowned for his piety). “Obama has become the holder of the slogan of ‘change’ and the owner of the slogan of ‘openness.’ Through this openness, scores of people are being killed in Afghanistan on a daily basis and nobody hears of them.”
 
Al-Libi expresses his disdain for those “insane and defeated people” who urge coexistence with the non-Islamic world and mocks Western perceptions of what constitutes “acceptable” Islam: “If you become democratic, modern, or Western, the people will be content with you and praise and recognize you as a moderate and balanced Muslim.”  Al-Libi expresses astonishment that the Prophet Muhammad was never able to establish coexistence “among his people and in his house and homeland,” yet the means to coexistence have suddenly been “discovered in the 21st century.”  
 
The senior al-Qaeda commander also condemned the “criminal Pakistani army that destroyed Swat,” asking why the army was fighting Muslims who wanted nothing more than the “Shari’a of Almighty God”
 
As he concluded the sermon, al-Libi called on the “mujahideen brothers all over the world” to trust in monotheism as a means of unifying their movement. Considering the source, al-Libi issued a rather surprising appeal for militant factions to be more conciliatory and less insistent in their belief that only they have the correct course of action and right to operate. “I say that there can be no possible agreement unless some groups are willing to concede some of their rights. That is a necessity. If a group holds fast to its right and the other group holds fast to its right, or what it claims to be its right, what kind of agreement or unity can be done after that?”
 
More specifically, al-Libi appealed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Ansar al-Islam to resolve their differences and “unite in one group and one rank.” Similarly, al-Libi also called on the Salafi mujahideen groups in Palestine to “get rid of the causes of division, disagreement, and dispute. There must be some kind of concession to make agreement and unity possible. Concession is necessary for the hearts to rejoin.”

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