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Thread: Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh Was Running Terrorist Network Through Jail

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Lashkar-e-Jhangvi blamed for Marriott hotel blast

    Islamabad, Dec 22 (PTI) Pakistan today blamed outlawed terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for the deadly suicide attack on Marriott Hotel that killed nearly 60 people.

    "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was behind the suicide truck bombing," Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told the parliament.

    Malik said the explosive-laden truck used in the attack was brought to Islamabad from Jhang city in Punjab province. Two persons, who facilitated the attack were arrested from Toba Tek Singh city in Punjab, he said.

    A hitherto unheard of group called the Fidayeen-e-Islam had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Marriott in September and warned of more such attacks on foreigners.

    Around 60 people, including Czech ambassador, two US Marines and several other foreigners, were killed and more than 260 injured when a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with 600 kg of explosives into the hotel's gate.

    Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim extremist group, has been accused of killing hundreds of Shiite Muslims.

    Authorities in Pakistan recently claimed to have cracked a clandestine terror network set up under which Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives had been directed by Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, the jailed killer of American journalist Daniel Pearl, to assassinate former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf either in Rawalpindi or in Karachi.

    Sheikh was released by India along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and another terrorist in exchange for passengers on an Indian Airlines flight hijacked in 1999.

    Attaur Rehman alias Naeem Bukhari, who was arrested in Karachi in June 2007 in connection with Pearl's murder in 2002 is also a key Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Toying with terrorism

    Kamila Hyat
    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    There is a distinct note of helpless frustration in the statement by the NWFP government calling for action against militants in Swat to be made more effective and warning that, at present, little is being achieved beyond the death of innocent people.

    Hidden within the words is the suspicion that an all-out offensive against the militants is still not being waged; that the armed forces remain convinced that these people of violence, who have most recently exhumed and slung up in public the body of a local ‘pir’ in Swat who died in a gun-battle fought against them, are ‘allies’ who need to be retained. Similar apprehensions are voiced everywhere in Swat by local people who have for months borne the main brunt of the gunfire. Some report instances in which troops have calmly allowed militants to walk away, making no attempt to act against them; others speak of militants receiving prior warnings of action so that they can safely escape.

    The deeply unhappy NWFP government, led by the ANP which of course won the poll on the basis of its open opposition to militancy, has called on the federal government to intervene; it is uncertain whether the government in Islamabad is in a position to do so or what precisely its aims are. It has become impossible to know what President Zardari is thinking behind the broad smile he dons each time he appears in public. The lack of credibility of almost everyone in the government adds to the distrust seen everywhere.

    We all know of the nexus between Pakistan’s security forces and the militants set up in the 1980s. While US political leaders, such as Senator John Kerry who visited recently, are quick to point fingers and blame the ISI, the fact too is that groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were established as highly organized fighting machines inspired by the notion of ‘jihad’ only with the support of the CIA.

    In offices in Washington, documents describing how these forces were created, to serve US interests at the time, still lie within the covers of files that are now rarely referred to. As was perhaps inevitable, these organizations have used their training, their structures and their zeal to breakaway from their masters and forge out paths of their own. In doing so, they have retained the support of powerful elements within the country. This of course is why men who preach fanaticism, such as Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Muhammad or the more suave, but equally zealous leader of the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD), Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, have been left untouched by repeated crackdowns against militancy.

    The fact is that we have only toyed with terrorism and shied away from any real attempt to tackle it. That is why, even after the 2002 ban on groups such as the LeT, these forces, sometimes operating under the flimsy disguise of new names, have been able to operate through Punjab. Those who have attended JuD rallies speak pro-jihad messages slipped in between sugar-coated homilies calling for social uplift; of a fierce sentiment against India carried forward by citing terrible abuses in Kashmir. Of course these accounts of Indian atrocities are not inaccurate, and this makes them all the more powerful.

    Truth always has greater force than lies. This is something our government needs to discover. Another truth too is that for our security forces, groups such as the LeT are an asset. They will not allow them to be easily dismantled. And of course, given the depth of the roots they have established in society, it is not easy to dismantle them anyway. The schools, the soup kitchens, the clinics they run, with genuine philanthropic intent, have all helped establish these roots.

    The games of deception played in Pakistan for too long, the refusal to deal with terror while insisting before a watchful world that we are indeed doing so, has landed us today in a truly dangerous place. From across our eastern border, India continues to warn in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that Pakistan act against the elements behind it, or face action. New Delhi states wads of ‘irrefutable’ evidence have been handed over. Islamabad denies this, claiming it has been provided no proof at all. The truth probably lies somewhere in between these two positions. Pakistan, after all, has still to explain why a young man from the town of Faridkot has ended up in the hands of police in Mumbai who say he is the sole surviving bomber. No theory that would explain his presence has so far surfaced. A vague tale of Ajmal Kasab having been handed over ahead of the bombings by Nepal to India has been emphatically denied by that country. Similarly, India has yet to explore allegations regarding the death of anti-terrorism chief Hemant Karkare who had played a part in tracking down Hindu extremist outfits engaged in terror.

    But there is no getting away from the fact that terror now runs through the veins of our country. The account that surfaced last week, in this newspaper, of how Omar Sheikh, the man convicted in the case involving the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl, had plotted from his cell in Hyderabad Jail the assassination of former president Pervez Musharraf, demonstrates that terrorist networks remain intact; that for all the bluster from Musharraf about cracking down on militancy from 2001 to 2008, they have barely been dented. Indeed they have been able to grow.

    The full story behind the killing last month in Islamabad of retired General Faisal Alvi, who had reportedly been threatened by Sheikh and was known for his stand against militants, is too still untold. The links in the past between Sheikh and our intelligence networks are another reminder of how the net of terror has, over the decades, been woven; this net still entangles the country holding it in a state of virtual paralysis even as hostile elements strike.

    Even as the frightening threats from India become more vociferous, the lack of internal unity makes us more vulnerable than ever before. In the past, similar aggression from India has led to political forces joining ranks. This time, even as the language from across the border grows harsher, the PML-N has launched its own anti-government offensive, creating a visible divide. How things will pan out over the next few weeks, as we walk unsteadily into 2009, is still to be seen. A new poll shows that pessimism across the country is growing. Whether or not it recedes will depend on how far we succeed in tackling the multifarious problems we face and whether we can slay the hydra-headed terrorist monster that today threatens both internal and regional stability.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Pakistan says al-Qaeda group behind Marriot bombing in Islamabad


    Pakistan said an outlawed terrorist group believed to be linked to al-Qaeda was behind the bombing of the Marriot hotel in Islamabad in September.

    Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, told the country's National Assembly that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had played a part in organising the attack, in which a truck packed with 600kg of explosives rammed the gates of the luxury hotel, killing more than 50 people, including the Czech ambassador and two US Marines.

    Experts said that the attack, on a building just a few blocks from Pakistan's Parliament, underscored both the growing reach of al-Qaeda and affiliated groups in Pakistan and the new-found confidence with which they operate in the country. Al-Qaeda and other militant groups now seem to be operating in Pakistan's capital and other major cities with impunity, security analysts said.

    Mr Malik said that the truck was loaded with explosives in the town of Jhang in Punjab province, south of the capital Islamabad. He said the plot was "assisted" by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim militant group accused of killing hundreds of minority Shiites across Pakistan.

    The move came as India urged Pakistan to take urgent action to hunt down the terrorist network responsible for last month's attacks on Mumbai. India is convinced that the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), also thought to have links to al-Qaeda, was behind the assault, which left more than 170 people dead.

    Pakistan officials have so far denied Indian claims that they have been handed proof that the ten gunmen who attacked Mumbai were from Pakistan.

    The Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said this week: "Pakistan's response so far has demonstrated their earlier tendency to resort to a policy of denial and to seek to deflect and shift the blame and responsibility." He also called on the United States and United Kingdom to place more pressure on Pakistan.

    However, the identification of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi as a playing a part in the Marriot blast may indicate the scale and complexity of the terrorist threat that confronts Pakistan's recently elected government.

    Authorities in Pakistan recently claimed to have cracked a terrorist network set up under which Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives had been directed by Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, the jailed killer of American journalist Daniel Pearl, to assassinate President Musharraf either in Rawalpindi or in Karachi, according to the Press Trust of India.

    Sheikh was released by India along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and another terrorist in exchange for passengers on an Indian Airlines flight hijacked in 1999.

    Previously, Mr Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, had appeared to blame Tehrik Taleban Pakistan, an outlawed militant group operating from a lawless tribal region in the north, for the Marriot blast. The group is also said to be closely linked with al-Qaeda. Many other Pakistani militant groups have mutated into small cells after being banned and work as an extension of al-Qaeda.

    The Marriot attack came as Pakistani forces stepped up operation against the militants in Bajaur tribal region considered al-Qaeda's operational base. Many observers believe the Marriot attack was a retaliation to the military offensive. The fighting there, the most intense since Pakistan allied itself with the United States in its War on Terror in 2001, has claimed hundreds of lives.

    Al-Qaeda and their allies among tribal militants had repeatedly threatened to escalate the conflict if that military operation was not stopped. Anti-American sentiments are also high in the country after surge in US predator attacks against suspected militant hideouts inside the Pakistani tribal region.

    Pakistan has arrested at least two people in connection to the September 20 Marriot blast, but no one has been formally charged.

    A previously unknown group called the Fidayeen-e-Islam had claimed responsibility for the assault and warned of more such attacks on foreigners.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Jailed militant`s hoax calls drove India, Pakistan to brink of war

    By Azaz Syed

    Omar Saeed Sheikh, a detained Pakistani militant, had made hoax calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a bid to heighten Pak-India tensions after last year`s terrorist attacks on Mumbai. — File Photo by AP

    ISLAMABAD Omar Saeed Sheikh, a detained Pakistani militant, had made hoax calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a bid to heighten Pakistan-India tensions after last year`s terrorist attacks on Mumbai, investigators have told Dawn.

    `Omar Saeed Sheikh was the hoax caller. It was he who threatened the civilian and military leaderships of Pakistan over telephone. And he did so from inside Hyderabad jail,` investigators said.

    The controversy came to light after Dawn broke the story, exactly one year ago, that a hoax caller claiming to be then Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee was making threatening calls to President Zardari.

    It was on the night of Nov 26 last year that Saadia Omar, Omar Sheikh`s wife, informed him about the carnage in Mumbai. The sources said that the information was passed on to Omar in Hyderabad jail through his mobile phone, which he was secretly using without the knowledge of the administration.

    All but one of the attackers who India alleged were Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorists were shot dead by security personnel.

    Saadia kept updating Omar about the massacre through the night and small hours of the morning. On the night of Nov 28, when the authorities had regained control over the better part of the city, Omar Saeed, using a UK-registered mobile SIM, made a phone call to Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

    He told an operator handling Mr Mukherjee`s calls that he was the President of Pakistan.

    Indian officials started verification as part of security precautions and, after some time, the operator informed Omar Saeed (who was posing to be Pakistan`s president) that the foreign minister would get in touch with him soon. Omar now made a call to President Asif Ali Zardari and then the Chief of Army Staff.

    He also made an attempt to talk to the US secretary of state, but security checks barred his way.

    The presidency swung into action soon after Mr Zardari`s conversation with the adventurous militant.

    President Zardari first spoke to Prime Minister Gilani and informed him about the happenings. He also took Interior Minister Rehman Malik into the loop.

    In Rawalpindi, Gen Kayani immediately spoke to the chief of the Inter Services Intelligence, Lt- Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

    According to sources, not only President Asif Zardari was taken in by Omar`s audacity but the COAS was also baffled by his cheekiness.

    Gen Kayani, sharing his thoughts with close associates, said he had been bewildered by the caller`s threatening tone.

    But Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the military spokesman, finds the report unbelievable. `I am not his (Army chief`s) operator. I don`t know who puts calls through to him, but I think this can`t be true,` said an incredulous Athar Abbas.

    Interestingly, when Omar Saeed Sheikh was making these hoax calls, the Lashkar-i-Taiba (LET) chief was also in Karachi, but it is not known whether Omar Saeed was acting under the guidance of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi or on his own.

    INVESTIGATIONS On the other hand, investigators got into the act without wasting time, coming up with their findings within hours.

    Their conclusion was that the phone call which came from the Indian external affairs ministry was actually their (Indians`) check.

    They said the calls to President Zardari and the army chief were made from a Britain-registered SIM.

    Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf, in his autobiography, had alleged that Omar Saeed was an agent of MI6, the British intelligence agency.

    The very next morning, Nov 29, Hyderabad jail was raided by intelligence agencies and over a dozen SIMs were recovered along with two mobile sets. Majid Siddiqui, the jail superintendent, was suspended.

    `I don`t know much but it is true that some mobile SIMs and mobile sets were recovered from Omar Saeed Sheikh when he was in Hyderabad jail.

    I got him transferred to Karachi jail because that is a far better place for such high-profile terrorists,` Allauddin Abbasi, DIG Prisons, Hyderabad, told Dawn over phone.

    The authorities had a word with Saadia Omar too. She was advised to `control` herself. The matter was then placed in the files of secret agencies marked as `secret`.

    The Federal Investigation Agency never interrogated Omar Saeed about the Mumbai attacks. Dawn`s efforts for getting the viewpoint of Tariq Khosa , the FIA chief, drew a blank.

    HIGH PROFILE Omar, currently confined in a high security cell of Karachi Jail, has a long record of militancy, from kidnapping foreigners in Mumbai in 1994 to kidnapping Daniel Pearl in Jan 2002.

    Omar Saeed Sheikh was freed by India in Dec 1999 as part of a deal that saw New Delhi agreeing to release a number of militant leaders in exchange for the freedom of hostages on board an India plane hijacked to Kabul.

    Soon after his release from Indian captivity, Omar Saeed developed close relations with the LET leadership, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi.

    He was invited to a training camp in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, where he spent a couple of days delivering lectures to recruits.

    Sources said Lakhwi wanted Omar to join LET and give the organisation an international face.

    In Feb 2002, Omar was arrested for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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