Posts Tagged ‘terrorists’

Pakistani police to face murder charges over killing of family

January 23, 2019

Pakistani authorities have removed the commander of the counter terrorism police in the province of Punjab and will charge five police with murder over a shooting last week in which an innocent family was killed.

CTD says the operation was conducted on the basis of information provided by the department. —File

Pakistani counter terrorism police CTD says the operation was conducted on the basis of information provided by the department. —File

The incident on Saturday saw counter-terrorism officials open fire on a car they said was being used by an Islamic State leader in the province, Zeeshan Javed. He was killed along with three passengers – grocery store owner Mohammad Khalil, his wife and their 12 year-old daughter.

Family members and neighbours of victims who were allegedly killed by the Counter Terrorism Department in Sahiwal block Ferozepur Road in protest against the killings. — White Star
Family members and neighbours of victims who were allegedly killed by the Counter Terrorism Department in Sahiwal block Ferozepur Road in protest against the killings. — White Star

However, the official account of the incident was disputed by witnesses, including Khalil’s three other children, who survived the attack and discredited by video footage widely circulated on social media.

The latest in a long series of episodes of alleged police brutality sparked protests in Lahore and drew condemnation from politicians including Prime Minister Imran Khan, who promised a clean up of the Punjab police.

Eyewitnesses' accounts differ from CTD claims that family members were killed during a shootout with "terrorists". —DawnNewsTV
Eyewitnesses’ accounts differ from CTD claims that family members were killed during a shootout with “terrorists”. —DawnNewsTV

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said the provincial government had removed the head of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and three other officials who will all face disciplinary action.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat addresses the media along with members of the cabinet on Sunday. ─ DawnNewsTV

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat

“Initial report of the Joint Investigation Team for the Sahiwal encounter reveals that the CTD officials were responsible for killing Khalil and his family, who were innocent,” Basharat said.

The five officers who shot at the car in Sahiwal town will be charged with murder and tried in an anti-terrorism court, he told reporters.

Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari



Pakistan: Latest Counter-Terrorism Department Strike Caused “Collateral Damage” Killing Three Innocents in Family — Video on social media revealed the truth

January 21, 2019

“The credibility of this operation has been challenged.”

Media Calls Police Work “Shady”

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat on Sunday termed the killings of three members of the same family in a Sahiwal police ‘encounter’ “collateral damage” — caused during security personnel’s attempt to eliminate a suspected terrorist who along with his accomplices could cause large-scale destruction.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat addresses the media along with members of the cabinet on Sunday. ─ DawnNewsTV
Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat addresses the media along with members of the cabinet on Sunday. ─ DawnNewsTV

Addressing a press conference in Lahore alongside members of the cabinet, Basharat said the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials did not intend to “directly” harm deceased Khalil’s family during Saturday’s operation, but ended up killing them as collateral damage while targeting Zeeshan, a family friend and neighbour of Khalil who the minister said had alleged links with Daesh, a proscribed terrorist organisation.

In what law enforcers described as an encounter with terrorists, the elite Punjab police had on Saturday killed four people, including parents Khalil and Nabeela, their teenage daughter, and neighbour Zeeshan, sending shock waves across the country as one of the three surviving children who were witness to the episode denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.

Basharat said that the team that took part in the operation had been taken into custody and its supervisor had been suspended.

"Everyone must be accountable before the law. As soon as the JIT report comes, swift action will be taken," says Prime Minister Imran Khan. ─ DawnNewsTV
“Everyone must be accountable before the law. As soon as the JIT report comes, swift action will be taken,” says Prime Minister Imran Khan. ─ DawnNewsTV

A joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the ‘encounter’ will present its findings to the Punjab government within three days, he said, adding that a first information report had been registered at the family’s request.

The provincial law minister revealed that the Punjab home department had issued a notification for the creation of a “high-powered JIT” which will be headed by Additional IG Ijaz Hussain Shah.

He announced that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had approved a Rs20 million compensation for the family whose three members were killed during the alleged shootout between CTD personnel and suspected terrorists in Qadirabad.

Muhammad Khalil, his wife Nabeela and 13-year-old daughter Areeba. PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/ @ZubairNadeem4

Muhammad Khalil, his wife Nabeela and 13-year-old daughter Areeba. PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/ @ZubairNadeem4

He also announced that the Punjab government will bear the expenses for the education of the surviving children “till whatever stage they want to study”, but also noted that financial support cannot be a replacement for such a huge loss.

The announcement came as the funeral prayers of the four deceased were offered on Sunday evening.

‘Links to Daesh’

Raja Basharat told reporters that for some time Zeeshan had links to a “dangerous network” of Daesh — Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group — and was working with them. He claimed that this network was responsible for the murder of intelligence officials in Multan, the kidnapping of former premier Yousuf Raza Gillani’s son, Ali Haider, and the murder of two police officials in Faisalabad.

Basharat revealed that in the murder of the ISI officers in Multan, a silver Honda City car was used which police and agencies were searching for. On January 13, the Honda City was spotted allegedly carrying terrorists to Sahiwal.

When footage from the Safe City cameras was looked at, it was discovered that Zeeshan’s white Suzuki Alto was “also with the terrorists’ car”, the minister said.

He added that they would also share the video and pictures from the Safe City cameras which would show that Zeeshan’s car “was also being used by the terrorists”. CCTV footage from January 13 was later shown at the press conference in which a silver Honda City could be seen trailing behind a white Alto.

According to the minister, after tracing the car, surveillance footage between January 13 and 18 was reviewed and on January 18 it was “verified that Zeeshan was working with terrorists”.

The same day (Jan 18), agency personnel reached Zeeshan’s house and found terrorists present there along with explosive material, Basharat claimed.

He said since Zeeshan’s house was located in a congested area, conducting an operation there was not feasible. He added that if an operation had been conducted there, many peoples’ lives and houses would have been put in danger’s way. It was therefore decided to wait for the suspected terrorists to leave in the car.

On January 19, the Safe City cameras spotted the white Alto in Manga area going from Sahiwal, Basharat said. Security agencies were informed of this development and because the car had gone outside Lahore, the CTD team was informed to stop the vehicle.

According to intelligence gathered at the time, the terrorists were “carrying explosives” and there was information that they were headed towards some congested area, Basharat said.

“When the car was stopped in Sahiwal, firing took place,” the minister said, without elaborating. He added that the car’s windows were “black” and people sitting on the back seat could not be seen. Zeeshan was driving the car himself, Basharat said.

He said the JIT formed has been tasked with determining “how and why the firing had taken place”. Further action on the incident will be taken based on the JIT’s report, he added.

CTD’s stance

Quoting the stance of the CTD, the minister said Zeeshan had opened the fire first, but he noted that there was also the family’s stance “which is why a determination of the incident is necessary”.

He said the investigation team will determine why Khalil’s family was travelling with Zeeshan and what relation Khalil had with Zeeshan.

Basharat claimed that two suicide jackets, eight hand grenades, two pistols and bullets were recovered from Zeeshan’s car.

The JIT will also determine where Zeeshan was allegedly carrying these weapons and explosives and from whom he received them.

According to the minister, after news broke of the incident on Saturday afternoon, two terrorists present at Zeeshan’s house saw the news on social media and fled the residence to go towards Gujranwala. He said agencies tracked these suspected terrorists and when CTD personnel surrounded them in Gujranwala, they “blew themselves up with suicide jackets”.

He said if these terrorists had not been followed, they could have caused “very large-scale destruction in Punjab”, adding that many threat alerts had been received on the matter.

“The elimination of these terrorists was necessary” which is why the ISI and CTD conducted this joint operation, Basharat said.

Recapping the chain of events that culminated in the deaths, Basharat said this operation was done on the basis of intelligence “because of which a lot of innocent citizens’ lives have been saved”.

He said Zeeshan was killed in Sahiwal on Saturday afternoon, and two other suspected terrorists, Abdur Rehman and Kashif, were killed in Gujranwala the same day at 11pm “which was a continuation of this same operation”.

“Unfortunately because of the valuable loss of the Khalil family the credibility of this operation has been challenged,” Basharat remarked, reading from a paper.

The minister assured that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Punjab chief minister felt the pain of the affected family and based on their orders, the family will be provided justice. “No sort of compromises will be made with anyone in this matter,” he stressed.

“I believe that this is the credibility of the current government, that without any discrimination we have to fulfil the requisites of justice,” he said, promising that those found responsible in the incident will be brought to justice.

In response to a question, he said the government will act on the observations of the JIT and clarified that the government “does not acknowledge any stance of the CTD”; it will acknowledge the stance of the JIT instead, he added.

Contradictions in official versions

Varying versions put forward at different stages following the incident cast doubts over the CTD’s initial explanation.

The news broke when the CTD told the media that four suspects were killed in an encounter at the Sahiwal toll plaza near Qadirabad on the Lahore-Multan motorway at noon. The officials initially described the shooting as a daring attempt of the law enforcers to rescue a group of kidnapped children from their captors.

However, it was soon replaced by another explanation by the officials who said some dangerous terrorists with links to Daesh were travelling in the car which was intercepted by the police near the toll plaza.

The situation took a new twist when a minor son of the deceased parents, Umair, narrated the firing incident in a video that flashed on television screens in the afternoon.

The young boy’s account lent credence to the reports about the incident possibly being a case of mistaken identity.

He said the family was fired upon out of nowhere as they were travelling to Burewala from Lahore to attend the wedding of a paternal uncle of his.

“My father told them to take the money but spare us,” he said. The child denied that there were any weapons in the car.

Some witnesses quoted widely by TV channels corroborated the assertion that there had been no firing from those travelling in the ill-fated car. One witness said the elite police forced the vehicle to stop and fired at the car occupants from a close range.

See also:

Shady encounter leaves three of a family dead

Turkey-Syria: YPG, PKK clearly affiliated with each other, US Senator Graham says

January 20, 2019

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said Saturday that U.S. strategy to arm PKK-affiliated the People’s Protection Units (YPG) was a mistake as the two groups are clearly affiliated with each other.

Senator Graham held a news conference Saturday in Ankara a day after he met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials. He told reporters that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the organizations have links, adding that the former U.S. President Barack Obama “created a nightmare” for Turkey by arming elements of the YPG that are “clearly tied to the PKK.”

He referred to the YPG as the “political wing” of the PKK, noting that he had been aware of the fact that the Obama administration’s Syria policy was wrong.

“I knew what arming the YPG/PYD meant for Turkey when I learned about it,” Graham said.

“Here is the promise I made to President Erdoğan: I’ll try my best to fix the problem we’ve created for your country,” he added.

The close U.S. partnership with the YPG since President Obama’s administration has always been a sticking point in Washington-Ankara relations. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people in its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, opted to continue its steadfast militarily support for the terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting Daesh despite warnings that the YPG does not represent Syrian Kurds.

Graham noted that there are three things the U.S. withdrawal should focus on, including the defeat of Daesh, preventing the victory of Iran and ensuring the security of Turkey.

Stressing that the secure zone near the border will be established for the security of Turkey, Graham said U.S. Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford was working on a plan with Ankara to move YPG elements away from Turkey.

The senator added that he urged U.S. President Donald Trump to slow down the withdrawal process to fix problems “created by the U.S.”

“If we leave without thinking about this and dealing with the YPG problem that we’ve created, things in northeastern Syria are going to be far worse,” he said.

The U.S.’ decision to withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria was announced by the Trump administration on Dec. 19. Trump previously stressed that Syria was all about death and sand and said that the U.S. will withdraw since the Daesh terrorist group is defeated.

Graham emphasized that the road map to Manbij is the most important thing to be accomplished in the near-term in Syria.

“So I would hope that President Trump would slow the withdrawal until we truly destroyed ISIS and see if we can implement the roadmap to manage as a confidence-building measure that will remove YPG elements from Manbij,” he said, using an acronym for Daesh.

In early June, both countries inked a deal, known as the Manbij roadmap and set a three-month time table to complete the tasks stipulated in the deal. The aim of the deal is to ensure security and stability in the province by eliminating YPG terrorists and ultimately handing the administration of the province to a body consisting of local people. Yet, progress in the deal, Ankara says, has been “sluggish” and slower than initially planned, due to what has been described as the disingenuous attitude of the U.S. about the plan.

Touching upon the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Graham underlined that Washington’s relationship with Saudi Arabia cannot move forward until Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is “dealt with.”

Khashoggi, who had lived for a time in the United States and wrote for The Washington Post, had been critical of the Saudi regime. He was killed in what U.S. officials have described as an elaborate plot, as he visited the consulate for marriage paperwork. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has been reluctant to pin the blame.

The U.S. senator added that what is transpired over the last couple years showed that leadership coming from MBS is not what he envisioned, referring to “imprisoning the Lebanese prime minister, taking all critics and throwing them in prison and the brutal murder [of Khashoggi].”

After a meeting with CIA Director Gina Haspel last December, Graham said there is “zero chance” the Saudi crown prince wasn’t involved in Khashoggi’s death.

“There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw,” Graham said, referring to Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ words that there was “no smoking gun” implicating crown prince and reports from the Turkish government that said Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

*Contributed by Nurbanu Kızıl


Image result for Mohammed bin Salman, putin, photos

Saudi Crown Prince and Russia’s Vladimir Putin high-fived like blood brothers at the G20 meetings in Argentina, 30 November 2018

Pakistan Heads to Financial Action Task Force — Plan for Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran border defense against terror financing

January 5, 2019
A 12-member team has been dispatched to explain the action plan that the government intends to follow in order to secure an exit from FATF's grey list. — File photo
A 12-member team has been dispatched to explain the action plan that the government intends to follow in order to secure an exit from FATF’s grey list. — File photo

The official said the delegation will address questions and observations of the FATF on the basis of risk assessment report already transmitted to the global anti-terror financing watchdog. The report highlights the implementation status of plans for various agencies of the government on the FATF’s recommendations.

Islamabad’s report identifies Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders as key routes for terror financing and money laundering

It said a total of 4,643 suspected transactions relating to terror financing and money laundering had been identified and blocked since 2015, including 3,677 suspected transaction reports and 966 financial intelligence reports. A total of 1,167 transactions were captured during 2018 alone, including 975 STRs and 210 financial intelligence reports.

The report identified some key routes of the terror financing and money laundering, saying Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders were two key routes of such flows.

To address the challenge, checking and security systems at Pak-Afghan border had been strengthened with improved technology and vigilance while security had also been beefed up at Pak-Iran border.

The report said that the long coastal belt was also a source of smuggling and security was being tightened through law enforcement agencies, including through marine and coast guards. It said Afghan Transit Trade was also a source of such unregistered financial flows. All these channels were also being misused by foreign agencies to support terror-related activities.

The tools being used for financial transaction for terrorism included donations, cash smuggling, natural resources, drugs, non-governmental organisations and foreign agencies. The report said the FBR identified about 1,185 illegal transactions since 2015, followed by 1,049 by the SBP and about 1,295 by the FIA.

An official said that no amendment to the law was required for further proscription of organisations. The Foreign Office has given new guidelines, for regulators and law enforcement agencies, so once MOFAP will issue an SRO, the relevant agencies and regulators will move for swift action on that basis.

During the May and September meetings later this year, regulators and law enforcement agencies will be expected to demonstrate results in the form of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, supervisory actions, sanctions with resulting impacts on compliance by financial institutions, implementing cross-border currency and border controls and enforcement of regulatory regime at the borders. NACTA will be expected to enhance coordination with LEAs and CTDs coupled with effective implementation on UNSCR Sanctions.

In June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point action plan to accomplish these objectives. The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move into the black list by September 2019. In August, the APG as part of the pre-site mutual evaluation identified a series of deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering/counter-terror financing laws and mechanisms.

The authorities are required to upgrade agencies and their human resources to be able to handle foreign requests to block terror financing and freeze illegal and targeted assets. By the end of September next year, Pakistan has to comply with the action plan it had committed with the FATF in June to get out of the grey list or else fall into the black list. Over the next nine months, i.e. till September 2019, the government will complete the investigation into the widest range of terror financing activities, including appeals and calls for donations and collection of funds, besides their movements and uses. The outcome will be published at least twice before September next year.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2019

Egyptian president confirms Israel helping fight Sinai jihadists

January 4, 2019

Sissi says cooperation closer than ever in CBS interview Cairo has subsequently attempted to quash

This photo posted on a file sharing website on Jan. 11, 2017, by the Islamic State Group in Sinai shows an explosion during an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in el-Arish, north Sinai, Egypt. (Islamic State Group in Sinai/AP)

This photo posted on a file sharing website on Jan. 11, 2017, by the Islamic State Group in Sinai shows an explosion during an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in el-Arish, north Sinai, Egypt. (Islamic State Group in Sinai/AP)

Egypt’s president has confirmed that Israel is helping Egyptian troops battle jihadists in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told CBS News that cooperation between Cairo and Jerusalem was tighter than it had ever been, in comments published late Thursday.

“That is correct…We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis,” he told the US news outlet when asked if the military coordination between the countries was closer than it had ever been.

The comments came during an interview with the channel’s “60 Minutes” program that is slated to air Sunday evening. According to CBS, Sissi has demanded that the interview be pulped, apparently over questions about human rights abuses and the deaths of protesters, but the channel has insisted it will be shown nonetheless.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on t he sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2018. (Avi Ohayon / PMO)

In February, The New York Times reported that Israel was covertly carrying out a full-blown aerial campaign against Islamic State targets in Sinai, with Sissi’s blessing. The Israeli aircraft are reportedly often unmarked and sometimes use indirect routes in a bid to cover up the origin of the strikes.

Israel and Egypt have never confirmed the existence of the campaign.

“Only the Egyptian army is authorized to and does conduct military operations in specific areas in northern Sinai, in cooperation with the civilian police,” Egyptian military spokesperson Tamer al-Rifa told Russia’s Sputnik news shortly after the New York Times report.

Illustrative: A picture taken on November 28, 2017, from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an explosion close to the border on the Egyptian side of the divided city. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Since the army toppled Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, hundreds of policemen and soldiers have been killed in attacks in the Sinai by jihadists and other extremist groups, including the Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Sissi has ordered a series of devastating operations meant to return calm to Sinai’s restive north, carrying out large bombing campaigns that have killed hundreds, as well as razing homes to create a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.

Jihadists regularly claim to have been targeted by Israeli aircraft.

According to foreign reports, Israel has conducted drone strikes in the peninsula on Islamic State targets. Cooperation has also reportedly taken the form of significant intelligence sharing.

Illustrative: Egyptian security forces in the Sinai, July 2013. (Mohamed El-Sherbeny /AFP)

More publicly, since 2013, Israel has also allowed additional Egyptian forces into the peninsula, beyond the level permitted under the 1979 peace accord between the two countries. Heavy weapons, like tanks, artillery and attack helicopters, have been brought into Sinai to fight the Islamists, a sign that Jerusalem is not concerned those big Egyptian guns could be turned against it.

Ties between Egypt and Israel, once mortal enemies, have thawed in recent years. Since 2017, Sissi has twice met openly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a sign of improved relations between the countries, though normalization with Israel is still taboo among many Egyptians.

Talks between Netanyahu and Sissi have been thought to revolve around Gaza, which borders the Sinai peninsula. Egypt has played a key role in attempts to broker calm along the Gaza frontier between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

Agencies contributed to this report.


Pakistan’s Infiltration to India Coming From Jammu Border Area

December 17, 2018

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has drawn its conclusion about the number of infiltrators after interrogating half-a-dozen overground workers (OWGs) — a nomenclature used by the J&K police for civilians who help militants — linked to Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) — who were arrested over the past year

By Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times

A National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe has revealed that in the last three years over 40 terrorists were pushed by Pakistan into India through the international border in Jammu, and then transported deep into the Kashmir Valley to carry out targeted strikes, said multiple government, intelligence and security officials familiar with the matter.

NIA has drawn its conclusion about the number of infiltrators after interrogating half-a-dozen overground workers (OWGs) — a nomenclature used by the J&K police for civilians who help militants — linked to Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) — who were arrested over the past year, the officials added.

“NIA submitted a detailed report to the Union home ministry last week, underlining the fact that Pakistani terrorist outfits were no longer solely using the Line of Control (LoC), the de-facto border between the Valley and the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to infiltrate terror operatives, and they were using the international border as well. That as many as 40 terrorists have used the international border to enter India is particularly alarming,” said a home ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“In its report, NIA said that OWGs, during their interrogation, disclosed that they picked up over a dozen groups, consisting of three to four terrorists, mainly from Jaish, from the Samba sector’s Bei Nullah area in the last two to three years. In one case, a group of Jaish terrorists after infiltrating from the international border attacked the Nagrota army installation in November, 2016 in Jammu. In another case, in September this year, the Jammu and Kashmir police intercepted three terrorists in Jhajjar Kotli and the whole group was neutralised. The rest of the groups were taken to the Tral area of the Valley from where they scattered to other parts,” the official added.

An NIA official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that a report on infiltration through the international border has been sent to the home ministry.

“Since the OWGs were regularly talking about picking up terrorists from the Jammu area, we decided to alert the government about it in the form of a report. The NIA report is just not a compilation of the interrogation reports, but has used mobile phone data to confirm the location of the OWGs when they claimed to pick up the groups of terrorists. The OWGs were taken to the spot from where they picked up the group of terrorists in the Bei Nullah area, and their journey onward to the Valley was tracked,” the official added.

“Their mobile phone data confirms the details provided by them. We have used satellite imagery to point out possible infiltration points in the Samba sector,” the NIA official said.

The official warned that the number of infiltrators could be even higher, as the agency had only talked to Jaish OWGs.

“There might be similar OWGs of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who may have been facilitating the transportation of terrorists from Jammu to the Valley. There have been cross-border tunnels detected at the international border, and they too may have been used,” the official added.

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According to government data, as many as 88 securitymen, including 44 state police personnel and 33 army soldiers, were killed in the state in 2018. Data also shows 240 militants died in encounters. As many as 212 and 165 terrorists were killed in 2017 and 2016, respectively. At least 131 Valley residents are suspected to have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish and LeT this year.

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Hizbul Mujahideen

South Kashmir has emerged as a hotbed of militancy and many local recruits are believed to be from this region. Stone-throwing protesters in the region often target securitymen during gunfights with militants, triggering retaliation by the forces. Locals also accuse securitymen of using excessive force and causing civilian casualties.

Another central intelligence official said the conclusion drawn by NIA was in line with their assessment. “We, too, have received regular inputs about infiltration from the international border and shared them with all agencies concerned,” said the officer, who regularly gets briefings on the situation in the Valley.

Image result for Hizbul Mujahideen, pictures

Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, speaks at a news conference in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan July 1, 2017. (Reuters Photo, File)

India shares a 740km-long LoC with Pakistan while the length of the international border in Jammu and Kashmir is 221km. The Border Security Force (BSF) guards the entire India-Pakistan border, but at LoC the force works under the command of the Army. “I would be inclined to agree to the conclusions drawn by NIA that terrorists may have used international border to infiltrate into India, as seen in the Nagrota or Pathankot or Dinanagar attacks, but frankly, the number of 40 is quite high given the fact that we have multilayered security in place, especially at those areas where cross-border nullahs other natural bodies make our job difficult,” said a BSF official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

He said NIA is yet to formally share the report with BSF, but even without the report, the force does a periodic review of security mechanism and regularly adds layers of security to keep the border safe. Hi-tech solutions, too, have been added at vulnerable stretches.

In November 2016, a group of three Pakistani terrorists suspected to be affiliated to the Jaish infiltrated into India from Kathua-Samba sector of J&K and carried out an attack on the 166 Medium Regiment Camp in Nagrota. Seven soldiers were killed in the attack and all three attackers were neutralised. In January that year, a group of terrorists stole a car belonging to a Punjab police official before launching a deadly attack that killed seven soldiers in the state’s Pathankot air base.

“In the earlier days of militancy, terrorists were very active in Doda district. They used the international border to cross over to India. But for the Valley, they always used LoC to cross over into northern Kashmir and then to other parts. But now BSF has become very alert and strengthened security there. It is very difficult to penetrate the border now. In my understanding, the number of 40 infiltrators would be too high. But it also cannot be ruled out that Jaish may be using the route as part of a new strategy,” said Arun Chaudhary, who served in Jammu and Kashmir while in the Intelligence Bureau and later retired as the chief of Sashastra Seema Bal, the force that guards the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders.

Jammu and Kashmir was under governor’s rule till mid-November, before governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the assembly as rival groups staked claim to government formation. The previous government in the state collapsed in June after the BJP snapped tie with the Peoples Democratic Party.

First Published: Dec 16, 2018 22:49 IST

See also:

Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammad: An unholy alliance


Main suspect in Strasbourg attack killed in gun battle with police: officials

December 14, 2018

The suspected gunman who killed three people at a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg was shot dead on Thursday in a brief gun battle with police after being on the run for 48 hours, police sources said.

Cherif Chekatt, 29, was killed in the Neudorf/Meinau area of the city shortly after a big police operation was launched around 2100 hrs (2000 GMT) on Thursday about 2 kilometers from where he launched his attack on Tuesday.

Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire, one of the sources said.

Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by French police
Photo: AFP

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters later three police officers came across a man they believed to be Chekatt and went to arrest him.

He turned to fire on them and they shot and killed him, Castaner told reporters.

“I think it will help to get back to a life that I would describe as normal,” Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told reporters after news that Chekatt had been killed.

“With the death of this terrorist … citizens, like me, are relieved,” he said

Reuters reporters near the scene heard three to four gunshots after armed police officers and units launched their operation, backed up by a helicopter circling overhead.

The death toll from Tuesday’s attack rose to three while police on Thursday combed the city in the east of France for a second day and manned checkpoints on the German border in their search for Chekatt.

PHOTO: Police motorcycles drive in the streets of Strasbourg, eastern France, after a shooting breakout, on Dec. 11, 2018.Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images
Police motorcycles drive in the streets of Strasbourg, eastern France, after a shooting breakout, on Dec. 11, 2018.

Three others were fighting for their lives on Thursday, Castaner told a news conference before news broke that Chekatt had been shot dead.

Police issued a wanted poster in multiple languages for Chekatt, who was the main suspect in the attack and who had been on a watchlist as a potential security threat.

He had spent time in French, German and Swiss jails for a theft and violence and authorities say he was known to have developed radical religious views while behind bars.

Islamic State claimed him as one of its soldiers on Thursday, who “carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of coalition countries” fighting the militant group, according to a statement on its Amaq news website. The group provided no evidence for the claim.

Earlier in the day armed and masked police had swooped on the same Strasbourg neighborhoods fanning out across three locations in late afternoon, including the area where Chekatt was last seen. He was killed not far from there.

Witnesses had told investigators that the attacker cried out “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) as he opened fire on Tuesday on the Christmas market in Strasbourg, a target Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz suggested may have been chosen for its religious symbolism.

French soldiers, who are part of anti-terrorism patrols across the country, had shot him in the arm but he managed to escape and elude capture for 48 hours.

BFM TV citing investigators said a taxi driver, who had taken him away from the attack site, had told him he had carried out the attack to avenge his brothers in Syria.


Chekatt’s police file photo shows a bearded man of North African descent, with a prayer bruise on the center of his forehead.

Neighbors on the housing estate where Chekatt family’s lived described the suspect as a typical young man who dressed in jogging pants and trainers rather than traditional Islamic robes.

“He was a little gangster, but I didn’t see any signs of him being radicalized,” said a leader of a community group standing outside Chekkat’s apartment building, who asked not to be identified while discussing him.

The Strasbourg attack was the latest in a succession of attacks linked to Islamist militancy in France going back to March 2012. Since January 2015 more than 240 people have been killed in various attacks, although the last one had been in May.

With the gunman still on the run and officials dubbing the attack an act of terrorism, France raised its security threat to the highest level.

More than 700 police took part in the manhunt. French and German police had manned controls on either side of the Europe Bridge, which spans the frontier running along the Rhine river, causing hours of logjams.

The Christmas market, a hugely popular attraction in historic Strasbourg, will reopen on Friday, Castaner said.

People began returning to the area on Thursday with many marking their respects for the victims by leaving candles in the main Kleber square.


See also:

Strasbourg gunman Cherif Chekatt shot dead by French police

Israel encircles Ramallah after West Bank attack

December 13, 2018

Israeli forces encircled Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and sent in reinforcements after a gunman shot dead two Israelis at a bus stop in the area, the army said.

The military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank. (File/AFP)

“Entrances and exits to the city are all closed. We are conducting searches,” army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

He said the military was sending “a few more infantry battalions” to conduct operations in the West Bank.



A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the 'martyr' Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas's official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

A poster published by Hamas claiming the December 9, 2108, Ofra terror attack and praising the ‘martyr’ Salih Barghouti, posted on Hamas’s official Twitter account, December 12, 2108. (Twitter)

Netanyahu vows to capture ‘monstrous’ gunmen who opened fire at West Bank bus stop, critically injuring pregnant woman and 6 others

December 10, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows that the Palestinian terrorists who opened fire at a bus stop outside a West Bank settlement last night will be caught and brought to justice.

In a Knesset speech, Netanyahu calls the drive-by shooting attack that left an Israeli woman and and her unborn baby fighting for their lives a “monstrous” attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on December 9, 2018. (Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on December 9, 2018. (Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP)

“Our security forces, the Shin Bet security service and the IDF, are pursuing these murderers,” he says according to a statement. “They will capture them, bring them to justice and settle our score.”

He also slams the Palestinian Authority, saying it’s “too much to expect” the Ramallah government to condemn the attack, saying “they only contribute to incitement here.”


Police arrest 5 ‘terrorists’ planning attacks in Pakistan

December 8, 2018

Pakistani counter-terrorism police say they have arrested five “terrorists” who were planning attacks on security agencies and seized explosive vests and weapons in the country’s east.

A senior officer said counter-terrorism police raided the men’s hideout. (File/AFP)

Senior officer Rai Tahir says Saturday that a group of five men belonging to the banned militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban had planned to attack intelligence agency offices in the city of Bahawalpur.

Tahir said teams of counter-terrorism police raided the men’s hideout. He said suicide jackets, hand grenades, lethal weapons, ammunition and money to finance their operations were seized.

Tahir said an initial investigation revealed that Tehreek-e-Taliban was coordinating with Al-Qaeda for attacks on security agencies in Punjab province.

Militants in Pakistan have carried out numerous attacks, mainly targeting security forces. Most in recent years have been linked to the Pakistani Taliban.

Associated Press