Karachi on high alert for fear of reprisals to Farooqi’s killing
* Sherpao says Farooqi had planned attacks on various Pakistani VVIPs
* More suspected militants arrested in Sukkur and Mirpurkhas
By Shaukat Piracha
ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement agencies prevented many impending terrorist attacks on VVIPs by killing Al Qaeda’s Amjad Farooqi on Sunday, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said at a press conference at the Press Information Department media centre on Monday.
“Al Qaeda leaders had assigned Farooqi the job of carrying out terrorist attacks on the VVIPs in Pakistan, especially President Pervez Musharraf. His killing and the arrest of his associates have enabled us to prevent many impending terrorists’ attacks on Pakistan’s VVIPs,” said Sherpao.
He said Farooqi’s plans included suicide attacks and car bombings. “Very recently, he had planned to carry out an attack on an important personality in the NWFP,” Sherpao said without naming the personality. He said Farooqi also intended to use snipers.
Sherpao stressed that no foreign agencies were involved in the operation in which Farooqi was killed. “Circumstantial evidence and information available to law enforcement agencies that the person killed in a shootout at Nawabshah was Farooqi. A DNA test is being done for further confirmation,” he said.
Of the situation in Waziristan, Sherpao said the dialogue process was yielding results, though “foreign elements do not like it and have resorted to disrupt the process”. The minister said five army and scouts personnel were killed on Monday morning when a caravan was targeted by remote control land mine in Sarokai tehsil. He said two vehicles were also destroyed.
Sherpao said Farooqi had many names such as Abu Zar Ghafari, Haider Ali, Mansoor Sani and Hussain Al-Karim, and was closely associated with top Al Qaeda leaders. He said Farooqi often visited the tribal areas for training new recruits and for material assistance for sabotage activities in Afghanistan. Sherpao listed a number of terrorist acts in which Mr Farooqi had been involved: the attack on the US Consulate in Karachi in January 2002, the attack on Jaccobabad airport in February 2002, the attack on a Protestant church in Islamabad in March 2002 and later an attack on another church attack in Bahawalpur.
Meanwhile, police stepped up patrols around foreign consulates and government offices in Karachi, fearing a backlash to Farooqi’s death, report foreign news agencies. The investigation expanded on Monday to include the arrest of four other suspected Islamic militants in separate raids.
Three brothers were taken into custody in Sukkur at dawn on Monday. One was identified as Khalid Ansari, alleged to have ties to Jaish-e-Mohammad. The men were blindfolded and led away by intelligence officials as security forces using loudspeakers warned residents to stay indoors. A fourth man was arrested in Mirpurkhas, according to Kamal Shah, the provincial police chief. He did not identify the man, but said he was Pakistani and much prized by the authorities.
Shah said he was optimistic that Farooqi’s death would lead to that of another senior Al Qaeda suspect, the Libyan Abu Faraj Al Libbi who is also wanted for organising the two assassination attempts on Musharraf last December. “Amjad Farooqi was the right hand man of Abu Faraj,” Shah said. “We are closing in on Abu Faraj and have laid our hands on his trusted people. We will definitely reach him.”
Meanwhile, there was concern the crackdown might spark more terror, said Rauf Siddiqi, a top security official. “We have alerted police throughout the province.”
Fayyaz Leghari, deputy chief of police in Karachi, said the city was on “red alert”. Police posted more plainclothes officers at sensitive locations.