Islamabad: A militant commander, arrested in
a commando operation against terrorists holed up inside a
building near Army headquarters during a bloody 20-hour siege,
has close links to banned groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and
Harkut-ul-Ansar, military officials said on Sunday.
Aqeel alias `Dr Usman`, described by military spokesman
Maj Gen Athar Abbas as the leader of the terrorists involved
the attack at the Army`s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi
near here yesterday, was captured this morning when commandos
stormed the building, where the attackers were holed up with
dozens of hostages.
Four of Aqeel`s accomplices were gunned down by the
commandos, who freed 42 hostages. Aqeel was injured when he
attempted to set off a large quantity of explosives, Abbas
Military officials were quoted by TV news channels as
saying that Aqeel, who belongs to Kahuta near Rawalpindi, had
close links with outlawed militant groups like
Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Qari Saifullah Akhtar faction of the
Aqeel, who once served in the Army Medical Stores, also
had close links with the Punjab chapter of Tehrik-e-Taliban
Pakistan and slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was
killed in a US drone attack in August.
Military officials said Aqeel was linked to the terrorist
attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this
year, attempts on the lives of former president Pervez
Musharraf and former premier Shaukat Aziz and the
assassination of Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig, the chief of the Army`s
Medical Services, in February last year.
Aqeel had also been linked to several attacks on Shia
prayer halls in Punjab.
The military officials said the five terrorists, who were
holed up in an office of the Military Intelligence agency,
appeared to have been prepared for holding out for up to five
days as they were carrying a large amount of food and
supplies. They also had a cache of suicide jackets, grenades,
explosives and improvised explosive devices.
Four of the terrorists led by Aqeel died in a gun battle
with soldiers manning check posts on the road to the General
Headquarters yesterday. Another four were killed by commandos
of the elite Special Service Group this morning during the
operation to rescue hostages.