Waziristan-based terror group takes credit for Lahore assault


An obscure terror group based out of South Waziristan took credit for today's deadly military assault on the Lahore police training center.

Pakistani officials are still sifting through the aftermath of the attack. Officials said between eight to 25 terrorists assaulted the police compound and killed between eight to 34 police recruits and police officers. Several of the attackers were captured, including one that linked the attack back to South Waziristan.

A spokesman for the Fedayeen-e-Islam said it conducted the attack in response to the deployment of Pakistani soldiers in the tribal areas. "As long as the Pakistani troops do not leave Tribal Areas, these attacks will continue," Omar Farooq, a spokesman for the terror group told The Associated Press.

Earlier today, "militants" said the attack in Lahore "was retaliation by Al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Punjabi militants for Pakistan's recent cooperation with the United States in hunting down Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders," AKI reported. The terrorists were referring to the US air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas and northwest that is targeting senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

Pakistan's interior minister also said the attack was planned and executed from South Waziristan, according to information obtained from one of the captured terrorists.

The Pakistani military has been fighting an insurgency in Pakistan's tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province since 2004. The government has lost control of the tribal areas and ceded large swaths of the province to the Taliban through peace negotiations that leave the Taliban in control.

The Fedayeen-e-Islam is believed to be comprised of members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Army of the Prophet Mohammed, a banned terror group that operates in South Waziristan. The Fedayeen-e-Islam has direct links to South Waziristan chieftain and Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud as well as to al Qaeda. The Fedayeen-e-Islam claimed it carried out the devastating Marriott Hotel suicide attack in September 2008.

Members of Jaish-e-Mohammed fled Punjab and Pakistan-held-Kashmir and reestablished the group in South Waziristan after support for the jihad in Kashmir was squeezed by the Pakistani government. Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, fled to South Waziristan after temporarily being placed under house arrest in the wake of the Mumbai terror assault in November 2008. Rashid Rauf, another leader in both al Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed, was thought to have been killed in a US airstrike in South Waziristan last year, but his death has never been confirmed.

Jaish-e-Mohammad is a Punjabi terror group formed out of the Harkat-ul-Ansar, a group that conducts terror attacks in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir. Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammed have close links to and conduct operations with Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and al Qaeda in Pakistan and India.

In 1994, Azhar was detained by Indian security officials in Srinagar and charged with sponsoring terror attacks. He was released from an Indian jail along with Omar Saeed Sheikh in exchange for hostages held in an Indian Airlines flight hijacking in December 1999. Azhar established the Jaish-e-Mohammed the next year.

Azhar has been in Pakistani detention at least two times in the past decade. He was briefly detained after the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, but was cleared of charges by a court in Lahore. Pakistani police detained Azhar after the 2003 assassination attempts against then-President Pervez Musharraf, but quietly freed him months later.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed was implicated along with the Lashkar-e-Taiba as being behind the Dec. 13, 2001, military assault on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi. In October 2001, the US designated Jaish-e-Mohammed as a foreign terrorist organization. The group receives support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency.



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READER COMMENTS: "Waziristan-based terror group takes credit for Lahore assault"

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 10:26 PM ET:

Still more information about the attackers is becoming available.

Security forces captured an alleged assailant said to be of Afghan origins from the near-by fields a couple of hours before the school was secured. Two hand-grenades, a knife, a walkie-talkie set and a passport in his name were recovered from him. Another three attackers blew themselves up to avoid arrest when the security forces launched the final operation to secure the centre in the afternoon.

Three men suspected to be involved in the attack were also taken into custody when they were trying to escape from the building premises in police uniforms. They were removed to an unidentified place for interrogation.

Dawn: 13 killed, 100 injured as forces recapture Manawan academy

Posted by COL. A.M.Khajawall[Ret] at March 30, 2009 10:35 PM ET:

Towards a peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem
It is right time for the leadership of India and Pakistan to think outside the box in regard to Kashmir and its people. As the Kashmir-Line of Control (LoC) is the Line of Conflict (LoC), slowly, surely, and peacefully make it irrelevant for exploiters and bad elements on either side.
Peaceful resolution of Kashmir is crucial and critical for the present and future generations of the region. If Kashmir people's issue is not addressed, the safety and security of over one billion will remain uncertain. The people in the Indo-Pak region and the rest of the world should always be of our top concern and interest.
Everybody, every leader, and every institution should take it upon themselves to exercise extreme care and caution. We all should avoid any provocative, inflammatory, and rancorous language, acts, and activities in and around the sensitive region.
At the same time, we and the world cannot afford to ignore the plight and aspirations of the people of Kashmir. These people have been divided by the Line of Control and\or the ceasefire line. Like the Berlin wall, it needs to be slowly, surely, and peacefully removed, erased, and dismantled by firm and resolute involvement of all. A courageous and bold action is needed by true, caring and visionary leadership of the region.

The people of occupied and divided Kashmir have sacrificed a lot in last seven decades. The multiple promises, pledges, and commitments that have been made to the people of Kashmir over the last six decades need to honoured.
As a Kashmir-born naturalised American citizen and having spent my life in each of the two countries of mine, it is my inherent duty and obligation to comment on this Indo-Kash-Pak living human issue.
The question of nuclear weapons should be only discussed for denuclearisation. The aim and focus should be to address the plight and aspirations of the people of Kashmir with the ultimate goal of erasing the Line of Conflict.
COL. A. M. KHAJAWALL ,M.D. (Retd.),

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 10:41 PM ET:

It seems the Pashtun attacker had a motive for being out in the fields.

He was arrested when he tried to reach the helicopters landed in the nearby fields. The policeman Shahzad and two army personnel nabbed him before he could hit the helicopters.

Aaj TV: Lahore under attack again: 12 dead, 90 injured in bloody siege at police academy, three gunmen captured

Posted by Neo at March 31, 2009 1:51 AM ET:

It's interesting how these new groups are spawned to take on specific tasks and goals. I have been looking for adequate terms to best describe these groups. Some analysts are inclined to call them franchisees. In some respects the term franchisee describes how some of the far flung elements are supported but in places like Western Pakistan the different groups are highly integrated. Groups have a fairly sophisticated structure designed toward a specific purpose but at the same time can operate independently to a large degree. I think it would be most accurate to call these groups "operational organizations". Large or small they seem to be designed from a range of operational templates to serve a specific function.

Several groups including Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba were designed to support the Kasmir insurgency and operations inside India and have since modified themselves radically as an adjustment to new political realities. Al Qaeda is specifically designed around the concept of a direct long distance war with the United States and the West in general. Similarly, Al Qaeda in Iraq was designed specifically to support the Sunni insurgency in Iraq against the US Military. This new organization Fedayeen-e-Islam seems to be designed for large scale "statement attacks". These are mass assassinations against politically sensitive targets with the specific task of displaying the capability and reach of the Islamists. The immediate effect of these mass attacks is outrage, but I think their eventual goal is to demonstrate the impotence of the government and security apparatus.

In Somalia, Sheebab's purpose is to aggressively continue the Jihad within southern Somalia and when needed force the hand of those who have tired of constant fighting. This former Islamic Courts were no less associated with Al Qaeda but were more of a consensus body where political maneuvering and prodding were done within. Sheebab is more directly violent and coercive in its leadership.

The Taliban is a more generalized political and governing body. It's purpose is as the primary political vehicle for supporting the Pashtoon uprising. As such it is far larger and more generalized in structure than other groups that are designed around a specific set of tasks.

The overall structure is organic. Organizations and leaders rise and fall by their effectiveness and utility. Size of the organization increase or decrease to fit needs and further successes. Organizations and leaders can become defunct or ignored if they are no longer useful, viable, or unreliable.

There isn't a set leadership hierarchy. Rather leaders such as al-Zawahiri and bin-Laden would be best described as the greatest among equals in a circle of top leaders. As such these organizations are not really part of Al Qaeda. Rather Al Qaeda and its long range war against the US served a leading purpose within these interrelated organizations. In fact Al Qaeda's name doesn't get anywhere near the play it did two years ago. This is a direct result of the failure of its mission in Iraq.

Posted by BENGAL UNDER ATTACK at March 31, 2009 2:09 AM ET:

Read: http://www.hindu.com/2008/12/22/stories/2008122259861200.htm.
Right after Mumbai 26/11 : Masood Azhar was detained at his home in Bahawalpur, local police chief Azhar Hameed Khokhar denied the reports. Overruling him a few hours later was Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar. He told a TV channel that Azhar had been detained and Pakistan "might allow" Indian investigators to question him. But a day later, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani told newspersons, "we are awaiting the latest reports about Maulana Masood Azhar; the other two are being investigated. He did not confirm or deny Masood Azhar's detention.

A week later, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik denied that the government had detained Masood Azhar. He also claimed that Masood Azhar was not in Pakistan.

But the same day, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Dawn TV channel, "yes, in custody" when asked whether Masood Azhar had been arrested. An hour later, Mr. Qureshi was to remark in another interview: "Maulana Masood Azhar is wanted by the government of Pakistan but he is not in our custody and he is at large."

One must understand Jaish e Md (JeM) is an ISI creation much like LeT. And Taliban is also created by the ISI. All these facts are well known.

Now Osama has tried brining the Pakistan Taliban and Afghan Taliban together. Do you really think if ISI did not give its thumbs up, this would have occurred?

Why then is this happening in Lahore?

Many people will say it is to teach Pakistan state a lesson for siding with the US on war on terror. While that may be the reason Al Qaeda is telling its foot soldiers - the real reason is taking over the nuclear assets of Pakistan.

So, what has Lahore got to do with it?

First, hitting Lahore means hitting the very heart of Pakistan. Demoralizing police and paramilitary forces psychologically is a step before Taliban come streaming down. They will not exactly come streaming down to Lahore in droves atop their SUV - but there is something very dear to Taliban / Al-Qaeda near Lahore.

Just to the west of Lahore is the SARGHODA air base. Nearly all of Pakistan's nuclear weapons is based there and nearby - a fact known to Hamid Gul and others in ISI who are co-ordinating this.

Posted by Minnor at March 31, 2009 5:39 AM ET:

Too many news these days from Pak. Iraq and Afghanistan cold.

Pak army is in no position to take on Waziristan, at least end adjacent
Kurram blockade?

Posted by David M at March 31, 2009 1:04 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/31/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by Neo at March 31, 2009 2:30 PM ET:

Bengal Under Attack

"One must understand Jaish e Md (JeM) is an ISI creation much like LeT. And Taliban is also created by the ISI. All these facts are well known."

Yes, But I will add that increased radicalism within the ranks of the ISI is also a creation of the terrorist groups. It's a symbiotic relationship that works both ways. I think it would be a mistake to say the ISI was in control of these groups though. The work with and alongside the terrorist groups. The degree to which the ISI actually controls these groups is debatable. One could even suggest that the terrorist groups control portions of the ISI to a degree.

Than there is the whole question of how much control the Pakistani government has over its own security services. It seems that Pakistan's security apparatus is itself fractured and divided.

Posted by Stanley at March 31, 2009 3:18 PM ET:

The sentiment from the third paragraph in this article echoes that of a witness to the attacks in Lahore as reported by the BBC and cited by Newsy
http://www.newsy.com/videos/pakistan_and_al_qaeda/
"We (Pakistan) have played a major role in the war on terror and yet we have suffered the most. We believe the time as come to pull out of this war and remain neutral."