Pakistan Security Brief
2002 Bali nightclub bombing suspect arrested in Pakistan; Suicide bombing in Swabi; Bomb in Sharifabad; Official: “90 percent of Orakzai cleared;” India and Pakistan PMs at cricket match; Six TTP militants arrested for 2009 attack on Sri Lankan cricket team; LA Times: Rising extremism in Pakistan; Guardian: “Pakistan’s secret dirty war;” ‘Target killings’ continue in Karachi.
Suspect in Bali Bombings Arrested
An alleged terrorist suspected to be one of the masterminds behind the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings was arrested in Pakistan earlier this month. Umar Patek is believed to be a member of the al Qaeda-linked Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI), though it is unclear whether he had significant contact with al Qaeda while in Pakistan. The general secretary of Indonesia’s National Antiterrorism Agency, Air Marshal Chairul Akbar, stated that, “He probably joined in fighting with the Pakistani Taliban.” It is unclear what Patek was doing in Pakistan, though it is believed that he had previously spent time in both Pakistan and Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s for training. Indonesia has sent officials to Pakistan to identify and potentially take Patek home.[i]
A suicide bomber traveling on a motorcycle in Swabi struck a police checkpoint and killed thirteen people. The victims were members of a crowd who had congregated to greet the head of the Islamist Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) party, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. It is unclear whether Rehman was the target of the attack, though he did escape the scene unharmed. Meanwhile, a low intensity bomb detonated in Sharifabad on Tuesday, causing damage to the Khyber Homeopathic College in the area.[ii]
On Tuesday, Orakzai political agent Riaz Khan Masud stated that 90 percent of Orakzai has been cleared of militants, paving the way for internally displaced people to return to the safe areas. At a ceremony for new Levies Forces personnel, Masud called upon the tribesmen to return home to assist the government in its fight against militants in the agency. He said that the last remaining strongholds of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would be cleared soon.[iii]
World Cup and ‘Cricket Diplomacy’
The prime ministers of India and Pakistan attended the World Cup cricket match between their respective teams on Wednesday, standing next to each other and clapping to the opposing country’s national anthems. Reuters reports that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had invited Prime Minister Gilani to “watch the game and discuss reviving a peace process, although ‘cricket diplomacy’ will offer more gestures than breakthroughs in a conflict that has lasted for more than 60 years.”[iv]
On Tuesday, Pakistani police officials announced that they had arrested six suspected plotters for their role in the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. Eight people were killed and seven Sri Lankan cricket players injured in the attack, which cost Pakistan its World Cup hosting rights. Lahore city police chief Aslam Tareen reported that, “We have arrested six people, they were actively involved in the attack on the Sri Lankan team. They belonged to the TTP. They told interrogators that they belonged to TTP and the plot was hatched in the tribal Waziristan region.”[v]
Rising Extremism in Pakistan
The Los Angeles Times has reported on growing extremism and militancy which has infiltrated different sections of Pakistani society. Though the Pakistani government has launched security operations against the TTP in various areas, “it has sought to appease militants in everyday society. And it has barely tried to stem the tide of radicalization in universities, the news media, security forces, political parties and even the legal community.” The article also highlights the extensive relationship between the Pakistani security community and the Islamic militants, which goes back decades.
The Guardian reports on “Pakistan’s secret dirty war” in Balochistan, where tortured bodies have routinely surfaced since July. The media outlet states that, “Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have accounted for more than 100 bodies – lawyers, students, taxi drivers, farm workers. Most have been tortured. The last three were discovered on Sunday.” Despite the continuous surfacing of bodies, media sources in Balochistan have failed to report on the phenomenon and not a single person has been arrested.[vi]
‘Target Killings’ in Karachi
Three more people were killed on Tuesday in the latest wave of ‘target killings’ in Karachi. Two of the men were shot to death in the New Karachi industrial area, while the third man was shot near the Chakiwara police station.[vii]