For­mer Al-Qaida Oper­a­tives Launch New Ter­ror Group in Pak­istan

The Jewish Voice - - INTERNATIONAL - By: Noor Zahid

Anew al-Qaida-in­spired mil­i­tant group, which has re­cently emerged in Pak­istan's south­ern port city of Karachi claims to act as a plat­form for mil­i­tants who have grown dis­af­fected with the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group (IS) in the coun­try.

The group, An­sar al-Sharia Pak­istan, was re­port­edly formed by two for­mer al-Qaida mem­bers who had sev­ered ties with the or­ga­ni­za­tion in early 2017. Since then, the group has been in­volved in sev­eral at­tacks in Karachi, ac­cord­ing to Pak­istani coun­tert­er­ror­ism au­thor­i­ties.

“The An­sar al-Sharia group started killings in Karachi since the be­gin­ning of this year and claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for killing an army of­fi­cer on Faisal High­way [in Karachi],” Ma­jor Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Saeed, the head of Rangers para­mil­i­tary se­cu­rity force in Karachi, told lo­cal me­dia. He added the group has been fo­cus­ing at­tacks on “the po­lice only.”

The group was al­legedly cre­ated to op­er­ate as a plat­form for mil­i­tants who have parted ways with IS in the coun­try, it said in an on­line state­ment. It claimed to be ac­tive in sev­eral parts of the coun­try.

“We give glad tid­ings to Mus­lim Ummah that a large num­ber of Mu­jahideen from Karachi, Pun­jab and tribal ar­eas are leav­ing ranks of IS and an­nounce dis­as­so­ci­a­tion with [it],” the group said in an an­nounce­ment through a Twit­ter ac­count, adding that IS has “spread dif­fer­ences” and “se­ces­sion in­stead of unity.”

The group has vowed to con­tinue its strug­gle through “ji­had” against “in­fi­del and apos­tates.”

Though the newly-emerged group as­serts no of­fi­cial af­fil­i­a­tion with al-Qaida and other for­eign mil­i­tant or­ga­ni­za­tions, the group said its ide­ol­ogy is in­spired by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida's slain founder.

VOA was un­able to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify the au­then­tic­ity of the Twit­ter ac­count.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­tert­er­ror­ism de­part­ment of Karachi po­lice, An­sar al-Sharia has a pres­ence in ar­eas be­tween Sindh and Baluchis­tan prov­inces.

"Un­for­tu­nately, ac­cord­ing to the names that have come up in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, their kill team has three young men who have mas­ters [de­grees] in ap­plied physics,” Maj. Gen. Saeed said.

Pak­istani me­dia re­ported the ter­ror out­fit also has fe­male mem­bers. Po­lice have re­port­edly ar­rested four women, in­clud­ing a doc­tor, sus­pected of mem­ber­ship in the group.

Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties have vowed ac­tion to seize mem­bers of the group in the coun­try, in­clud­ing in Karachi.

A po­lice of­fi­cer has re­port­edly been ar­rested for links with an al­leged An­sar-al-Sharia mem­ber in Karachi, Pak­istani me­dia re­ported.

Al-Qaida's branch in South Asia, known as al-Qaida in the In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent (AQIS), has been ac­tive in the re­gion. Sev­eral mil­i­tant groups in Pak­istan that had an ide­o­log­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tion with bin Laden's al-Qaida, have pledged al­le­giance to AQIS.

Much of AQIS's power is con­cen­trated in Karachi and IS has also claimed pres­ence in in Pak­istan's largest city.

A Pak­istani mil­i­tant holds a rocket-pro­pelled grenade in Shawal, in Pak­istan's tribal re­gion of Waziris­tan, Aug. 5, 2012. Two for­mer al-Qaida mem­bers have re­port­edly formed a new mil­i­tant group, call­ing it An­sar al-Sharia Pak­istan

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