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Pak believes elements linked to Laj Masjid behind attacks

Last Updated: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 15:45

Islamabad: Pakistani investigators believe elements linked to the radical Lal Masjid here were linked to recent terrorist attacks in the city and surrounding areas, according to a media report on Sunday.
Sleuths suspect the Ghazi Force -- a small but lethal militant group named after Ghazi Abdul Rashid, the deputy imam of the Lal Masjid who died in a military operation in July 2007 -- was involved in recent terrorist attacks in Islamabad.

Niaz Raheem alias Bilal, the chief of Ghazi Force, has been described as a prime suspect in terrorist activities in Islamabad and the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi, Dawn
News channel reported.

Police and law enforcement agencies are looking into the Ghazi Force`s involvement in the killing of an Army brigadier and a soldier by unidentified gunmen in Islamabad last week.

Raheem`s name first came up in May, when security agencies arrested Fidaullah, the founder of the Ghazi Force, after getting some leads from two men arrested in connection with suicide attacks on two security facilities in Islamabad early this year.

Investigators have also identified some key members of the Ghazi Force, including Muhammad Hanif of Kacha Malana in Dera Ismail Khan district, Muhammad Kamran of GPO Road in Peshawar, Dildar Khan from Kohat district, Bashir Ahmed of Mardan, Arslan Irshad of Karachi and Farhan Saqib Abbasi from Islamabad.

Fidaullah established his network at Guljo in Hangu in the North West Frontier Province and has also been accused of taking youngsters from Islamabad to be trained for suicide attacks.

Fidaullah`s arrest and the military operation against militants in Swat forced the group to lie low for some time before it re-emerged under the leadership of Raheem.

The Ghazi Force has links with militants in Swat and the tribal belt and there is a strong possibility that it has developed this nexus for executing terror attacks in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the channel quoted its sources as saying.

Nearly 100 people were killed when army commandos stormed the Lal Masjid in July 2007 after a face-off with extremists who were holed up in the mosque.

There have been reports since then that activists from the mosque and its affiliated seminary have tied up with the Taliban and other militant groups to carry out attacks on the Pakistani security forces.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 15:45

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