Terror Report Card:Pakistan
Investigations and background interviews with intelligence and security officers confirm that sectarian organisations have successfully linked up with the more fanatical organisations supported both by the TTP and al Qaeda. In what’s described as one of the most blunt comebacks in years, the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), a banned organisation known for targeting minorities, has suddenly re-appeared. Daily Times can confirm two addresses – Sipah-e-Sahaba USA Inc Brooklyn, NY, 11230 PO Box 795 and Sipah-e-Sahaba USA Inc (Women Wing) PO Box 300310, Brooklyn, NY 11230, USA – which have been used as proxies from the US to fund various extremist organisations.
In Karachi, however, the greatest victim of the SSP is bizarrely not the Shia community, but the Barevli-led Sunni Tahreek, which confirmed the recent emergence of the SSP and a threat to its organisation. Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, the Sunni Tahreek chief, told Daily Times that more than 80 of the Sunni Tahreek’s workers had been targeted by SSP last year and “that certain old punters of the SSP that we thought were dead had recently re-emerged out of nowhere”.
While on the security side, the Pakistani intelligence agency, which has taken pains to separate the operations of the groups operating in Kashmir from the activities of those based in Afghanistan after 2003, seems to be in a limbo.
“The organisations we had worked upon and even our manufactured ones are lost. The reason is the red mosque incident, while top commanders do listen and can be controlled, but we are witnessing a loss of over 60 percent of mid and lower cadre of militant leadership. The problem is that we don’t have a clue where these 60 percent of terrorists are going,” confirmed an ex-spy master.
After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the new strategy of ‘reorganising’ jihadis under one command structure, a move that failed in 2002-2003, is being implemented again. The new jihadi set-up being formed now is the result of pressure from the ISI. Because of the irresponsible behaviour of some jihadi organisations, the ISI is incorporating them into the organisations operating in Indian-held Kashmir or changing the leadership of these organisations. All such decisions are being taken in Muzaffarabad and Muridke. This view was corroborated by the office of Harkatul Mujahedin, Kotli, where we learnt that Fazlr Rahman Khalil was trying for the greater clout of Harkatul Mujahedin in the new setup, which is still considered as a “strategic asset” by the security establishment.
The objectives are to unite jihadi organisations under one platform, to work out a collective military strategy, to remove mutual differences among jihadi organisations and to work out a common stand on national and international issues. While intensive investigation and background interviews with both terrorists and intelligence officials confirm that big Deoband jihadi organisations like Harkatul Jihad Islami have been advised to stay low and hibernate. While most of the terrorists obeyed, some hardcore members joined other sectarian organisations or took refuge in the tribal belt, whereas some opted to fight inside Afghanistan. Interestingly, Brigade 111, or what is now known from its Punjabi Taliban tag, based in FATA is now under the command of a former SSG commando, Ilyas Kashmiri, and has only recently merged with Jamiatul Mujahedin based in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and has widened its scope with the TTP and other groups in carrying out attacks within Punjab and other urban areas.
While there seems to a deliberate policy from the Pakistani intelligence agencies post-2004 to split various jihadi organisations within Pakistan to stop their increasing clout, Daily Times can confirm that the actual policy of the security establishment has largely backfired, where instead of splitting various jihadi organisations – fearful of their fate – they have managed to allow the merger of these organisations with various sectarian organisations, including the TTP and al Qaeda, to form what is being called a supreme jihad council, which supports using suicide attacks and issuing fatwas against the state of Pakistan.
The export of terrorists from Pakistan is continuing where ISAF sources confirm that LeT and Punjabi Taliban are hyperactive in the province of Kunar, Afghanistan, which is turning out to be another headache for both sides. A western diplomat who is closely watching this development told Daily Times, “We don’t know what to do with this… these are dangerous developments, but rest assured we will be exerting our pressure to sort such things.”