Pakistan Security Brief - September 8, 2011
Two Pakistani flights grounded due to bomb threats; U.S. imposes sanctions on three al Qaeda militants; Pakistani security officers block U.S. nuclear inspection; Pakistan and Iran conclude energy deal; Pakistani soldier killed in Kashmir; Pakistani Taliban increase demands for release of kidnapped children; Three Kashmiri men held in connection with New Delhi bombing; Militants trained in Pakistan claim attacks in China; Rangers arrest twelve and discover “torture cell” in Karachi; Six judges appointed to Anti-Terror Courts; Chaudhry suggests situation in Karachi could lead to military coup; Joint Interrogation Teams formed in Karachi.
Pakistani Airline Receives Bomb Threat
- Two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights were grounded yesterday after receiving bomb threats via e-mail. One of the planes, which was on its way from Lahore to Manchester, U.K., made an emergency landing at Ataturk International airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Another plane stopped in Kuala Lumpur. Both planes were searched and authorities found no evidence of explosive devices on the aircraft. Safety officials have declared the bomb threat a “hoax”.
- The U.S. Treasury imposed financial sanctions on three al Qaeda militants on Wednesday, including Younis al Mauritani, who was one of three senior al Qaeda leaders arrested by Pakistani officials in Quetta on Monday. Mauritani, Abu Yahya al Libi, al Qaeda’s propaganda chief, and Mustafa Hajji Muhammad Khan, an “al Qaeda facilitator, courier, and operative,” had all of their U.S. assets frozen in an attempt to damage remaining al Qaeda leadership and operations within Pakistan, according to David Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
U.S. Security Inspection Blocked
- Pakistani officials prevented a U.S. security officer from visiting a nuclear facility on Wednesday. Jason Berger, an officer from the U.S. Consulate Lahore, visited Faisalabad to check the city’s security arrangements for an upcoming U.S. delegation visit set for September 13th. Among other stops, Berger attempted to inspect the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), a nuclear research center. However, the facility was not listed on the U.S. delegation’s scheduled plan. After a terse conversation between the U.S. official and NIBGE commandos, Berger was forced to leave the location.
- A meeting between Pakistani and Iranian officials concluded that Pakistan would import 1000 megawatts of electricity from its neighbor, Iran. Officials also discussed the lifting of trade barriers currently in place and the development of an investment fund “to encourage [the] private sector to undertake investment in their respective countries.”
- Indian authorities arrested three men in connection with Wednesday’s bomb attack in New Dehli. The break came after an email taking credit for the bombing was traced to an internet café in Indian-administered Kashmir. The owner of the café, Mehmood Aziz, was one of the three detainees. The Pakistani militant group, Harakat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) and the Indian Mujahideen have both taken credit for the attack. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cautioned that it was “too early to say” which group was behind the attack.
- The Pakistan Army announced the death of a soldier in Kashmir, who was reportedly killed by “unprovoked firing by Indian soldiers in the Keil sector of Neelam valley” on Tuesday night, according to military officials. The soldier was the fourth killed in cross-border shootings in two weeks.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
- The TTP made additional demands for the release of over twenty kidnapped boys allegedly being held in Kunar, Afghanistan. Earlier this week the TTP called for the release of all women and children being detained in jails in Peshawar. In addition, Taliban spokesman Mullah Dadullah “also demanded that the government provide compensation for the houses destroyed in Pakistani military operations in Bajaur.”
Militants Trained in Pakistan Carry Out Attacks in China
- The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a militant Islamist group reportedly trained and based inside Pakistan, released a video that claimed responsibility for a series of terrorist attacks in China’s Xinjiang region in recent weeks that have left nearly 40 people dead. The video features the TIP’s leader Abdul Shakoor Damla declaring that the attacks “were revenge against the Chinese government.” Xinjiang, which borders northern Pakistan, is home to China’s Uighur population, a Muslim ethnic group that has clashed violently with the region’s other ethnic groups in recent years.
- The Sindh provincial government decided Wednesday to form Joint Interrogation Teams (JITs) in order to investigate and arrest suspects of violence within their respective jurisdictions, according to Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan. In the same press conference, Wassan announced that the Rangers would maintain their current police powers until “further notice.” No killings have taken place since the Rangers assumed power in Karachi; as of Wednesday, Rangers had arrested 1,249 people, including suspected “target killers.”
- During the Supreme Court’s suo motu hearing on the violence in Karachi on Thursday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry suggested that the Karachi situation could lead to a military coup. The court also criticized the testimony of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) counsel Farogh Naseem, which only included MQM party members on their list of innocents killed in the city’s violence.
- Rangers continued their search operation in Karachi on Thursday as part of their crackdown on recent political violence in the city. The searches focused on Baldia Town and Federal B Area. Twelve arrests were made during the course of the operation and a “torture cell” was discovered in Yousuf Plaza. Authorities have commenced investigations to discover the owner and tenants of the torture cell.
- The Sindh government announced the appointment of six judges to the Anti Terrorism Courts (ATC) after being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. According to the Supreme Court, the appointment of the judges was essential in order to try “cases of extortion and other heinous crimes in Karachi…under the anti-terrorism act.”