Pakistan Security Brief – December 6, 2010

Pakistan Security Brief: December 6, 2010

At least 50 dead and 100 wounded in suicide blast in Mohmand, Latest batch of WikiLeaks cables reveal that Gulf States are principle financiers of terrorist groups; thousands of Islamists protest Islamabad’s alliance with U.S.; security forces increase presence to prevent attacks during Murharram; Karachi police identify TTP chief as main perpetrator of the CID attack. 

 

Mohmand Blast

  • At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded on Monday, when two suicide bombers attacked a meeting between anti-Taliban clerics and government officials in Mohmand tribal agency.  The attack occurred at the civilian government headquarters, located in the Ghalanai area of agency.  At the time of the blast, more than 300 anti-Taliban clerics were meeting with Amjad Ali Khan, the top civilian official for the area.  Mr. Khan may have been the target of the attack, but reports indicate that he managed to escape the blasts unharmed.  According to Pakistani security officials, two suicide bombers dressed as policemen infiltrated the meeting before detonating their suicide vests. The dead and wounded are said to include tribal elders, police, political officials, two-journalists, and civilians.  A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the attack.[1]

 

WikiLeaks Revelations

  • The latest batch of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks on Sunday demonstrates that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states remain the principle financiers of the Taliban, al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Sunni extremist outfits.  In a classified internal memo sent last December, Secretary of State Clinton makes it clear that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” and that these funds go to the very groups that are “threatening stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan and targeting coalition soldiers.” Another leaked memo from Secretary Clinton indicates that groups like al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, “probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan.”[2]

  • In a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Anne Patterson, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, wrote that “Defeating a growing witches’ brew of al Qaeda, Taliban, local extremists and criminals will be a long 10-15 year fight.”  The Ambassador also warned that al Qaeda’s operations in the region were expanding and that the group “now wants more than just a safe haven in Pakistan.”[3]  

  • Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousaf Gilani met on Saturday in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss their strategic relationship and dismiss revelations from diplomatic cables released last week by WikiLeaks.  At a joint press conference in Kabul, Prime Minister Gilani said that the WikiLeaks cables reflected “just the views of junior officers” and that “they are not authentic…we should not even take them seriously.”[4] 

  • A spokesman for the Pakistani army reiterated on Saturday the military’s support for Pakistan’s civilian government.   Major General Athar Abbas told reporters that the military has a “demonstrated policy of supporting the political process within the confines of the constitution of Pakistan with respect to national leadership.”  Maj. Gen. Abbas’s comments were an apparent response to cables released last week that seemed to suggest that the country’s top military commander, General Asfhaq Kayani, had considered pressuring President Zardari’s civilian government to resign in March of 2009.[5] 

 

Mumbai Attacks

  • David Headley, the American citizen convicted of helping perpetrate the Mumbai attacks, has identified the voices of three of his Pakistani “handlers,” according to comments made by India’s Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.  Last year, the United States made Headley available to Indian intelligence interrogators who played tapes of phone calls intercepted during the Mumbai attacks.  According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, David Headley was able to positively identify the voices of three out of the four Pakistani “handlers” who were caught on tape directing the Mumbai attackers.  The report also indicates that the names Headley provided were passed on to the Pakistanis, who have since failed to produce any arrests.  According to G.K. Pillai, Pakistan is making “no progress” despite being provided the information, saying, “I don't think they're going to do anything about it.” A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the government had received a list of names, but said that Pakistani authorities were unable to identify the individuals listed because the names given were likely pseudonyms.[6]

 

Anti-American Protests

  • Thousands of people aligned with the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Party crowded the streets of Islamabad on Sunday to protest their government’s alliance with the United States.  Speaking to reporters at the event, the chief of the JI, Syed Munawar Hassan, warned that if the Pakistani military agrees to a military operation in North Waziristan at the behest of the Washington, “a new wave of terrorism” will likely sweep the country.  Other grievances, such as inflation, unemployment, and social justice were also voiced by many in the crowd.[7] 

 

FATA

  • 140 people from 16 families returned to their homes in South Waziristan on Saturday, after being displaced over a year ago by a military operation targeting militants in the tribal agency. Brigadier Shahzad Raza, who is responsible for orchestrating the return of IDPs, said that he was disappointed that so few families elected to return over the weekend. Over 400,000 people were displaced by last year’s military operation in South Waziristan.  The Associated Press reports, that the unwillingness of families to return highlights the reality that the Taliban still command considerable sway in the area and that the army still faces difficulties in maintaining security.  On Saturday, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Azam Tariq, told reporters that tribesmen should not return home and that the TTP “will continue our fight until the army leaves our area.” Meanwhile on Sunday, Ariane Rummery, the spokeswoman for the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said that the process of IDP repartition in South Waziristan would steadily continue until next year and that both UNHCR and the Pakistani government are poised to support returning tribesmen.  Speaking to reporters Rummery affirmed, “There is strong desire among people living in [IDP] camps to return home.” [8]

 

Murharram Threats

  • Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, chaired a “high-level” meeting in Islamabad today to “promote sectarian harmony” during the holy month of Muharram.  It was decided at the meeting that security forces will identity processions that are “sensitive” to sectarian attack and provide these processions with increased security.   Additionally, the National Crisis Management Cell was placed in charge of providing up to date intelligence on possible attacks, while special police were ordered to deploy “snipers and sharp shooters to…tension ridden areas.”  Today’s meeting and the increased security protocols come nearly one week after members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan issued a warning that they planned to attack targets during Muharram.[9]

 

Karachi

  • Karachi police on Sunday say they have positively identified the perpetrators behind both last month’s attack at CID headquarters and an October attack at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine.  According to Karachi police, the attacks were orchestrated by a man named Ameerzada, who is reported to be the chapter chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Karachi.   Maulvi Tayyab was also identified by police as a major facilitator in both attacks.  Security forces in Karachi indicated that efforts have been “sped up” to capture these two individuals.[10] 

 

Bhutto Assassination

  • On Sunday an anti-terrorism court issued arrest warrants for two senior police officials in Rawalpindi for their “negligence” in preventing the assassination of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.   The special prosecutor in the case told reporters that Rawalpindi’s former police chief and one of his deputies are being charged with negligence because they failed to provide adequate security and botched the work of investigative teams by prematurely hosing down the crime scene.[11]

 



[1] Ismail Khan and Salman Masood, "Suicide Blasts Strike Tribal Pakistan," The New York Times, December 6, 2010.  Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/world/asia/07pstan.html?_r=3&hp.  “Suicide bombers kill 50 in Mohmand Agency,” Dawn, December 6, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/2010/12/06/eight-killed-in-mohmand-explosion.html.  “Pakistan suicide bomb attack kills dozens,” BBC News South Asia, December 6, 2010.  Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11924584
[2] Declan Walsh, "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists," The Guardian, December 5, 2010.  Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding.  Alissa J. Rubin and Carlotta Gall, "Top Leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan Dismiss Cables,” The New York Times, December 4, 2010.  Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/world/asia/05afghan.html
[3] “Fifteen years needed to defeat Pakistan militants: cable,” Dawn, December 5, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/2010/12/05/fifteen-years-needed-to-defeat-pakistan-militants-cable.html.
[4] Alissa J. Rubin and Carlotta Gall, "Top Leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan Dismiss Cables,” The New York Times, December 4, 2010.  Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/world/asia/05afghan.html
[5] “Pakistan military says its supports government,” Associated Press, December 4, 2010. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101204/ap_on_re_as/as_wikileaks_pakistan.
[6] Amol Sharima, "Mumbai-Attack 'handlers' Identified," The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2010.  Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704493004576001232935580082.html.
[7] “Islamists demand Pakistan abandon alliance with US,” AFP, December 5, 2010.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101205/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanpoliticsunrestrally.
[8] Ishtiaq Mahsud, "Pakistanis return to tribal area after offensive," Associated Press, December 4, 2010.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101204/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_displaced_tribe. “More Pakistan families returning to Waziristan: UN,” AFP, Decemeber 5, 2010.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101205/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanafghanistanunrestdisplaced.
[9] “Government calls for sectarian harmony during Muharram,” The Express Tribune, December 6, 2010.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/86582/government-calls-for-sectarian-harmony-during-muharram/.
[10] “Culprits of Karachi attacks identified: Home Office,” Dawn, December 5, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/2010/12/05/culprits-of-karachi-attacks-identified-home-office.html.
[11] “Pakistan police face arrest over Benazir Bhutto murder,” BCC News South Asia, December 5, 2010.  Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11922368.