Terrorism in Pakistan

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Suicide attacks in Pakistan


India Today, June 10, 2011

Qaswar Abbas

Pakistan's H Bombs

Unemployed youths turn human bombs, make Pak world's suicide bomber capital

While suicide bombings have traditionally been about evicting a foreign occupying power, the attacks in Pakistan seem to defy such logic. The targets initially were security forces, but in the past four years, nothing is off limits. Bombers have attacked shops, mosques, funeral processions, shrines, educational institutions and other soft targets. The army and law-enforcement personnel are no longer the only casualties-the list also includes women, children, and the elderly. Pakistan's first attack was in Islamabad in 1995 when an explosive-laden truck rammed into the Egyptian embassy killing 14 persons. In May 2002, 11 French submarine engineers were killed outside Karachi's Sheraton Hotel. On December 27, 2007, suicide attackers killed Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan. They are now the weapon of choice of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). TTP commander Hakimullah Mehsud calls them a retaliation for US drone attacks in frontier areas. Between 2001 and 2008, 130 suicide attacks killed 1,883 persons in Pakistan. In 2010, in the deadliest wave of suicide attacks so far, 1,224 people were killed in 52 suicide attacks. This year 377 persons have died in 21 attacks. Suicide bombers kill an average of 100 persons every month. The attacks are increasing in lethality. On May 23, a twin-suicide attack on a bus killed over 80 paramilitary personnel.

The attacks have indirectly contributed to a worsening economic situation, declining investment and a loss of faith in state institutions. The landscape has changed not just in the provincial capitals, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, but also in other areas such as Multan and Noshehra. Pakistan is now a country at war with itself. Hundreds of security pickets dot the cities with AK-47-toting police personnel checking vehicles. Roads are partially closed and barricades erected in front of schools, hospitals and universities to foil suicide bombers. Once a serene city, Islamabad now resembles a fortress. There were seven suicide attacks in the capital in 2009. "Gone are the days when we would walk on roads and in the markets without any fear. The mushrooming police pickets and barricades send chills down our spine," says Abid Ali, a retired civil servant. The impact on the civilian mind is less visible. The attacks have compelled Pakistanis to stay indoors. Children go to school, women go shopping, families going out for dinner and people gather in market places under a constant shadow of fear. "No place inside Pakistan is safe," says sociologist Mehr Ghazanafar.

The Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad estimates that around 5,000 youth have been trained to become suicide bombers. What is it that motivates these youth to strap explosives on and blow themselves up? The phenomenon is a complex one which has its roots in a number of factors including religious extremism, foreign intervention, political instability, economic conditions and poverty. Appalling education standards and the absence of a social security net are two important factors responsible for transforming the youth into walking bombs. "Ignorance of the teachings of Islam is among the factors behind these attacks," says Allama Sajid Hussain, an Islamic Scholar based in Islamabad. Studies have identified that the youth of the tribal areas-from where most suicide bombers are recruited-are driven by a hatred for government policies, absence of opportunities for education and jobs and the severe lack of basic amenities. Sajjad Hussain, 15, a would-be bomber from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) stripped his vest and tried to flee after seeing the havoc created by his two accomplices during an August 2008 attack on the Pakistan Ordnance Factory at Wah, that killed 70 persons. "If I knew the consequences of my actions, I would never have become a suicide bomber," he wept. Yet a majority of youth like him are recruited because they can be easily persuaded to carry out such missions and because they attract little suspicion. Fida Hussein's family was caught in the crossfire between militants and security forces. Two of his young sisters were killed. Fida Hussein believes they were victims of police firing. In a bid to exact revenge, he arrived at a Taliban "suicide nursery" in South Waziristan. There were 13 other children in the camp which had instructional aids like computers, compact discs, audio and videos. Fida Hussein told india today that there were 350 to 400 suicide bombers, many of them in their teens. They were shown videos of the killing of Muslims by non-Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Their instructors constantly told them that a war was being waged against Islam. The 2007 storming of Islamabad's Lal Masjid was used as a powerful indoctrination tool. The theological brainwashing convinces bombers of the virtuousness of their mission. They believe that by taking part in jihad and killing infidels they will find a place in paradise in the company of 72 virgins. "Teens are kept in isolation. Only three to four people are allowed to meet them," said Abdul Basit, an expert on suicide bombings at the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. A handler usually accompanies these bombers, guides them to the target, and then leaves them to detonate their explosives. At the end of his training, Fida Hussein was filled only with a burning desire to kill policemen and soldiers. "All those who died during the Lal Masjid attack were like my sisters," he said. Just how effective his indoctrination was can be understood by how he is handled by security forces. He has not sprouted a moustache yet but Fida Hussein is treated like a live bomb. "You are accomplices of the enemies of Islam who are bent upon eliminating Islam and Muslims," he snarled at his captors. "If I get a chance, I will strike again." Fearing further attacks from the Taliban, intelligence agencies spread rumours he had succumbed to his injuries. A police official who facilitated this meeting asked this correspondent not to insist on photographs or reveal the location of the hospital. Over 300 would-be suicide bombers have been arrested in the last two years and most of them are between 15 and 22 years. They are well-versed in planting explosives and detonating suicide jackets. "In their training camps at Federally Administered Tribal Areas, they have qualified experts who train these recruits and then send them to hit targets across the country," says a senior police official in Malakand Division of NWFP. In May 2008, a Pakistani Army division that overran Spinkai, a small town in South Waziristan, found a ttp suicide bombing school there. The well-equipped training centre had computers, video equipment and literature that taught children as young as 10 how to become suicide bombers. Some videos showed how to make and detonate improvised explosive devices. One recovered video showed a group of teenage boys and pre-teens, wearing white head bands, being lectured by a masked instructor as armed guards stood nearby. Among the trainers, Qari Hussain Mehsud, a top Pakistani Taliban commander, is known for his ruthlessness. He is an expert trainer in suicide bombing and has allegedly recruited hundreds of Pakistani children as suicide bombers. The Pakistani Taliban have three secret camps in South and North Waziristan tribal regions close to the Afghan border to train over 1,000 potential suicide bombers. "We have three facilities exclusively for fidayeen (suicide bombers). Each one has more than 350 men being trained in it," Shakirullah Shakir, a spokesperson for the little-known Fidayeen-e-Islam Group of the Taliban, told journalists last month. Shakir said that the ttp's Mehsud had recently separated suicide bomber operations from the overall activities of the group. A "few dozen" prospective bombers had already been sent to hit their targets across Pakistan. Militants have now changed their tactics. After initial training at a centre in nwfp, the bombers are dispatched to a school closer to the target. Since the May 22, 2006 bombing of the shrine of Pir Syed Shah Bukhari in Balochistan, there have been 24 terrorist attacks on Sufi holy places. Attacks against religious targets are mostly carried out by Muslims driven by a strong anti-American sentiment and deep anger towards the Pakistani establishment. "It is this minority which is really so very effective and powerful that it has made the life of ordinary Pakistanis a living hell," says Khalid Zaheer, a religious scholar. Attempts by religious heads to stem the suicide bomber offensive have proved futile. Pakistan's most prominent Islamic scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri not only condemned suicide attacks but also issued a 600-page fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombing. It has fallen on deaf ears. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik's recent amnesty for young Taliban who renounced violence had no effect on the spiralling cycle of violence. Ghalib Sultan, a prominent Lahore-based Islamic scholar believes the madrassa has now become a place where all kinds of hatred is spewed. "The government must decide how they want to solve terrorism and extremism in Pakistan-with more troops or with more teachers?" asks Ghalib. But unless the Pakistan Government shows them glimpses of Heaven in their lifetime-education, employment and security-these poverty-stricken youth will be seeking afterlife paradise through the destruction of themselves and others.

Pakistani Taliban clash

12 killed in clash within Pak Taliban

The Times of India, June 26, 2011

Islamabad: Clashes between two commanders of the Pakistani Taliban on left at least 12 militants dead in Orakzai tribal region. One of the groups was led by commander Noor Jamal alias Tufan Khan and the rival faction was headed commander Nadeem Mullah, also known as Hanafi. Tufan is loyal to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mehsud. All those killed belonged to Hanafi’s group, but the commander himself was safe. Hanafi projects himself as part of the TTP, but the outfit spokesperson Ahsanullah Ahsan said Hanafi's group has no relation with his organisation. Ahsan said Hanafi is leading a pro-govt militia in Orakzai Agency and that the government is backing Hanafi’s group. PTI

Terror by Pakistani Taliban

The Times of India, June 27, 2011

In a first, Taliban unleash female suicide bomber in Pak

Dera Ismail Khan: The Pakistani Taliban had sent a husband and wife suicide squad to carry out an attack on a police station in northwestern Pakistan that killed 10 people, a rare instance of militants using a woman as a bomber. The pair entered the police station in Kolachi and said they were there to lodge a complaint, said Imtiaz Shah, a senior police official. Once inside, the two attacked with grenades and machine guns, triggering a fivehour standoff with police. Both attackers, including the woman wearing a burqa, eventually blew themselves up. They killed eight police officers and two civilians, said Mohammad Hussain, another police official. “This shows how much we hate Pakistani security institutions,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said. Ahsan claimed it was the first time the militant group had used a female suicide bomber. However, Pakistani officials said a female suicide bomber wearing a burqa attacked a World Food Program food distribution centre in northwestern Pakistan late last year, killing 45 people.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack in Khar, the main city in the Bajur tribal area, but never claimed it was carried out by a female bomber. Still, that was believed to be the group’s first attack by a female suicide bomber. Male suicide bombers often don the burqa as a disguise. In 2007, officials initially claimed Pakistan’s first female suicide bomber had killed 14 people in the northwest town of Bannu. But the attacker was later identified as a man. Islamic militants in Iraq have used female suicide bombers several times because women in their burqas are seen as able to pass more easily through security. AP

US on terrorism in Pakistan

Mike Mullen: Abu Mullen Al-Amriki

Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN

The Times of India, July 9, 2011

Pakistan govt sanctioned scribe killing: US top gen

Washington: From some accounts, he’s averaged one trip to Pakistan every month over the last couple of years. His constant and consistent support for Islamabad, even in the face of its egregious transgressions, has earned him the nickname Abu Mullen al-Amriki. Jokes abound about him being Pakistan’s real ambassador in Washington DC. So when Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said that he believed the Pakistani government had “sanctioned’’ the killing of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, it was a shot that was heard around the world. It also signaled how badly ties between the two countries have deteriorated, since Mullen is considered Pakistan’s biggest ally in Washington.

With no sign that Pakistan’s military establishment, at whose feet the weak civilian government functions, will line up behind US objectives in the fight against terrorism, the gloves are starting to come off in Washington. Although US officials had previously indicated they had evidence implicating the Pakistani establishment in the Shahzad murder, Mullen chose to go on record about it in a meeting with the Pentagon Press Association on Thursday, going so far as to say ‘’there were government officials who had sanctioned that.’’ Some analysts are suggesting a middle way — that instead of sanctioning the entire Pakistani government or its military and intelligence establishment, US go after individuals who cross red lines. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, is among those who say the US should be drawing up a hit-list of official terrorists. Here is what Riedel proposed: We should tell the Pakistani army leadership that if we learn one of their officers is involved in harbouring terrorists, planning terror operations, or tipping terrorist bomb factories off to drone raids, we will make it personal. Don’t sanction the country or the ISI; sanction individuals.

Hafiz Saeed’s lawyer booked

Pakistani police have registered an FIR against Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed’s lawyer A K Dogar under Section 420 of the Pakistan Penal Code for allegedly “defrauding public and courts”. PTI Complicity

The Times of India, June 18, 2011

‘ISI can nab Zawahiri if it wants to’

Washington: Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has been appointed the al-Qaida chief following the killing of Osama bin Laden, is likely hiding in Pakistan and can be nabbed by ISI if it “really wants” to do so, a top United States senator has said. “Well, we believe that he is likely in Pakistan somewhere. Do I believe that the government is harbouring him? No. “Do I believe the government might know, or the ISI might know likely places where he would be? Yes. Do I believe that ISI could find him if they really wanted to? Yes,” said United States top senator Diannne Feinstein. PTI

Pakistan bars US staff from entering Peshawar

The Times of India, July 26, 2011

Washington: In an action that would further strain USPakistan relations after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Islamabad has denied permission to the US embassy staff to enter Peshawar.

Quoting US and international aid officials, the Washington Post Sunday said Pakistani authorities have repeatedly denied permission to US embassy employees to enter Peshawar to attend meetings or replace workers at the US consulate in the city over the past 10 days. Most Pakistanis view the US consulate in Peshawar as a front for CIA operations. “The widely publicized episodes in Peshawar threaten to become another flash point in a frayed bilateral ties that US officials had hoped was improving, after fatal shootings by a CIA contractor and the US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden,” the report said.

After the killing of the al-Qaida leader by US forces and the killing of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond davis in Lahore, Pakistan expelled more than 100 US army trainers. In retaliation, the Obama administration stopped $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military.

The Washington Post report quoted US officials as saying that their embassy notified Pakistani police that their employees were driving from Islamabad to Peshawar and should be escorted from the highway into the city.

“On those occasions, the employees were turned away at the highway tollbooth for lacking permits, which are issued by interior ministry but can also involve approvals from the military or intelligence,” the report said. IANS

US moves in senate

The Times of India, June 18, 2011 Pak’s Osama session video leaked to US?

Islamabad: Pakistani authorities are reportedly suspicious that the US mission in Islamabad has clandestinely obtained the video recording of the joint sitting of Parliament held on May 13 to discuss the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad. ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha had briefed parliamentarians during that in-camera session, which lasted for about 11 hours, about the US’ unilateral military raid that killed bin Laden. Sources said that US officials, while interacting with Pakistani authorities, gave the impression they had minute-to-minute knowledge of proceedings of the sitting. ANI

Amendments to Anti-Terrorism Act, Pakistan


The Times of India, Sep 1, 2011

Pakistan ‘incapable’ of prosecuting terrorists: US

Washington: Asserting that anti-terrorism courts of Pakistan had an acquittal rate of 75%, the US has said that Islamabad’s legal system is almost incapable of prosecuting suspected terrorists, including those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. “The review, in conjunction with information provided by Pakistani law enforcement partners, painted a picture of a legal system almost incapable of prosecuting suspected terrorists,” said the report. As such, the US does not appear to be have high hopes in the court case related to the Mumbai terrorist attack, which it is closely monitoring as six Americans were killed in this terrorist attack by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists.

It determined that “the accused in numerous high-profile terrorism incidents involving US victims had all been acquitted by the Pakistani legal system”. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has assisted with the respective prosecutions,” the report said. Noting that Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Bill 2010 remained before parliament, the report said it proposes 25 amendments to Pakistan’s original Anti-Terrorism Act

The amendments included provisions that broaden the definition of terrorism, expand the authority of law enforcement agencies investigating terrorist incidents, authorize detention of subjects for 90 days before presenting them before a court, and allow increased electronic surveillance and wiretapping. PTI

See also

Terrorism in Pakistan

Terrorism, sponsored by Pakistan

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