Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – December 15, 2010
Security on high alert ahead of Ashura, terror suspects arrested in Karachi; U.S. seeks extradition of Pakistani terror suspect in Britain; first phase of repatriation completed for families displaced by military operation in South Waziristan.
The Pakistani government has ordered the deployment of tens of thousands of paramilitary soldiers and police to counter any potential terrorist threats against Shia Muslims during the holy day of Ashura this Friday. Approximately 6,500 police have been deployed in Karachi while another 4,000 police have been deployed in Peshawar. A senior security official said that the government is “taking all possible measures” to avert attacks on processions. Last year, more than two-dozen people were killed in a suicide bombing on an Ashura procession in Karachi.
On Tuesday, police in Karachi arrested a militant belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who was allegedly part of a group of terrorists plotting an attack on the city’s Ashura processions. Officials from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said the suspect, named Haji Rahman alias Qasai [Butcher], was captured following a “brief encounter” with police in the heavily Pushtun slum, Sohrab Goth during which authorities seized several weapons, 10 kilograms of explosives, and three detonators. According to police, Rahman and five other TTP militants, who fled the scene of Rahman’s arrest and are still at large, are linked with the TTP in Orakzai agency and had been dispatched by TTP Orakzai commander Hafiz Saeed to launch terror attacks in Karachi.
Police arrested three more terror suspects in Karachi on Wednesday, this time suspected members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who were reportedly planning to carry out terror attacks during Ashura. Senior Superintended of Police Raja Umar told reporters that the suspects were arrested from the Ayub Goth area of the city where a police raid resulted in the recovery of explosive material, suicide vets, weapons, ammunition, and hand grenades. Umar further told reporters that one of the suspects, identified as Imamuddin alias Muawia, was involved in the 2002 bus bombing outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi and had been trained in Afghanistan where he specialized in planting bombs in vehicles.
Terror Suspect in Britain
- A U.S. attorney addressed a London court on Wednesday in the extradition case of a Pakistani man arrested in Britain last year on charges of planning to carry out terror attacks in Manchester, saying the suspect was part of “a wide international conspiracy” orchestrated by al Qaeda. Abid Naseer was among 12 men, mostly Pakistani students, arrested by British police during a raid on April 8, 2009 after authorities uncovered a potential terror plot targeting the city of Manchester. Naseer was believed to have been in e-mail contact with an al Qaeda operative. All of the suspects were later released due to lack of evidence and have since been handed over to Britain’s immigration authorities for deportation. David Perry, the lawyer representing the U.S., spoke before London’s Westminster City Court to present the case that Naseer was involved in a larger al Qaeda plot that sought to attack targets in the U.K., the U.S., and Norway.
- A Pakistani official announced on Tuesday that the first phase of repatriation for 330 Mehsud families displaced by last year’s military operation in South Waziristan has been completed. Assistant Political Agent Khan Hameedullah Khan made the announcement during a tribal jirga in Tank district, saying that “all those who have returned to their homes feel great.” Khan also added that the displaced families would be given an aid package worth Rs 25,000 ($300) which will include kitchen and food supplies as well as other necessary household goods.
Bill Harris, the former senior U.S. diplomat stationed in Kandahar, said on Tuesday that militant sanctuaries in Pakistan are threatening the “staggering progress” U.S. forces have made in the fight against insurgents in the areas around Kandahar over the last several months. Harris expressed his frustration while in Afghanistan as he and U.S. forces “knew the insurgents who attacked us were going to Pakistan to re-equip, replenish, retrain and get orders to attack us again.” One senior military official further highlighted the importance of eliminating militant safe havens in Pakistan, saying “if you can’t solve the problem, you can’t win.”
U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen attended a meeting with senior Pakistani officials in Islamabad on Tuesday during which he reportedly continued to pressure the government to undertake increased efforts to eliminate terrorist safe havens in the country’s tribal areas. Following the meeting Admiral Mullen told reporters that the issue of militant sanctuaries in the FATA was a “priority in our relationship and our discussion” and said that “all of us are aware of the impact that it has had in Afghanistan.” However, Pakistan maintained its stance that a military operation in these areas, particularly North Waziristan, is simply not feasible since its military forces are already stretched thin due to ongoing counter-insurgency operations in other areas.
- Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s finance team cautioned him during a briefing on Tuesday about capitulating to the Pakistan Army’s request for an additional budget allocation of Rs 45 billion ($525 million). Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told the prime minister that expanding the army’s budget would worsen the country’s “prevailing grave economic situation.” Dr. Shaikh reportedly met with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Rawalpindi last week to inform the army chief that the government could set aside an additional Rs 10 billion for military expenditures which would expand the total defense budget to Rs 452 billion ($5.27 billion).