45 religious outfits with ‘terror links’ identified
By Amir Rana
LAHORE: Law-enforcement agencies have identified 45 religious organisations believed to have links with international jihadi networks or thought to be involved in terrorist and sectarian activities in Pakistan, sources told Daily Times on Friday.
According to the sources, major groups believed to have links with Al Qaeda, like the Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HJI) and Jamiatul Mujahideen Al Alami have not been banned yet. They not only had roots in Pakistan, but also in Kashmir, Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Philippines, sources said.
HJI chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who reportedly lives a in some Gulf state, was allegedly former Taliban leader Mulla Umar’s advisor and believed to have a direct link with Al Qaeda. The sources said several of his organisation’s several activists who were arrested by law-enforcement agencies for terror attacks in Karachi had divulged this information.
The sources said Harkatul Mujahideen Al Alami, which was accused of an attack on President Pervez Musharraf last year in Karachi and the suicide attacks on French engineers, was formed by the HJI, Harkatul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and Jamiatul Mujahideen Al Alami.
The sources said law-enforcement agencies were investigating the Hizbul Mujahideen and Al Badr Mujahideen’s links with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Gulbaddin Hikmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami. There were reports that the two organisations’ former Mujahideen were recruiting Jihadis for the Taliban and the Hizb-e-Islami from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan.
Jamiatul Ansar, Jamaatul Furqan and Tehrik-e-Khudamul Islam, which were recently banned, also allegedly had links with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The sources said the LJ and Deobandi Jihadi organisations despite having differences with each other came closer after the Taliban’s overthrow in Afghanistan by the United States and its coalition forces, and several trained Mujahideen joined the LJ after 2001.
The LJ was transformed into an organisation and became more than just a sectarian group. Its alleged involvement in attacks on foreigners, consulates, churches and missionary institutes was a proof of its growth. Before the formation of the Jamaatul Furqan, there were reports that Commander Jabbar joined the LJ and reorganised its structure.
Sources said the LJ not only changed its ideology but also its organisational structure. It does not use its previous name. Its members use new codename in different areas, like Lashkar-e-Omer, Al Farooq and Al Badr. Intelligence agencies in the US began to collect proof about the Jamaatud Daawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s links with Al Qaeda and their involvement in terrorist activities.
The sources said some terrorist groups were working underground and they might have been exploited by bigger jihadi and terrorist organisations like the Al Badr, the Jhangvi Tigers and Al Farooq.
According to the sources, law-enforcement agencies were also probing sectarian organisations’ links with international terrorist organisations like Jamiat-e-Ghuraba-e-Ahle Hadith. From its seminary Jamia Abu Bakar in Karachi, Indonesian students were arrested for suspected links with a terrorist network, the sources said.
“The Jamiat Ishaat-e-Tauheed-wal-Sunna, influential in some areas in the NWFP and the Punjab, might have relations with the Taliban,” the sources added. According to the sources, the Tehrik-e-Taliban was actively engaged in recruiting jihadis for the Taliban in tribal areas.
The sources said the Imamia Students’ Organisation and the Hizbul Momineen were involved in increasing sectarianism, especially in the Northern Areas, and were under observation by law-enforcement agencies, whereas the defunct Sipah-e-Muhammad’s network had been broken in the Punjab but was still active in Balochistan.