Yesterday the Taliban and Brigade 313, al Qaeda’s branch in Pakistan, jointly carried out a devastating attack on a police headquarters in Karachi. Several members of the assault team escaped after the battle.
The assault took place at the Crime Investigation Department headquarters in a highly secured area of Karachi in Sindh province. Two vehicles, and not one as initially reported, were used in the assault, according to witness statements and closed circuit television footage analyzed by Pakistani investigators.
The first team of attackers dismounted from a jeep and attacked the guards at the front gate, killing them and clearing the path so that the second truck, which was packed with an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of explosives, could enter the compound.
“A Shezore or a larger Mazda truck laden with explosives was used in the blast and terrorists used a Prado jeep, whose occupants first killed guards posted at the CID gate, clearing the way for the truck to enter the building,” a senior Pakistani police officer told Dawn.
Another Pakistani security official claimed that the suicide assault team had enough time to raid the headquarters’ armory, and escaped with a number of weapons, Daily Times reported.
Several of the attackers boarded the jeep and fled the attack after the truck was detonated by a suicide bomber. During the assault, 17 people were killed, including two CID officers and five paramilitary soldiers guarding the building.
The attack appears to have been designed to free two Taliban commanders, one from Karachi and another associated with Bajaur Taliban chieftain Faqir Mohammed, and six Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives detained over the past week who were being held at the police compound. It is unclear if the captive Taliban commanders and LeJ members were freed or killed during the attack.
The attack also resulted in the loss of evidence and information on terrorists and criminals being held and investigated by the CID in Karachi. “The CID’s data on crime, notorious criminals and informers was completely destroyed, so the CID officials have no information about the suspects who were being investigated,” Daily Times reported.
Brigade 313 involved in Karachi CID assault
While the Taliban claimed it carried out yesterday’s attack in Karachi, al Qaeda’s branch in Pakistan was also likely involved in the operation. The Taliban immediately claimed the attack, just hours after the deadly blast.
“We will continue such attacks as long as military operations continue against us,” Azam Tariq, the top spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, told reporters.
But US intelligence officials familiar with al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan believe that Ilyas Kashmiri’s Brigade 313 was involved in the assault. Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and a host of Pakistani terror groups often carry out joint operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
“You can see Kashmiri’s hand in this attack; it has his signature,” one official told The Long War Journal. “The attack was well scouted and planned, and executed almost flawlessly. They carried this attack out in a secure area, so it is likely they received some form of inside help from within Pakistan’s security forces. Kashmiri has those links.”
Kashmiri, a long-time jihadi trained and supported by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services to wage jihad in Kashmiri, took command of al Qaeda’s military wing after his predecessor, Abdullah Said al Libi, was killed in a US Predator strike in December 2009.
Kashmiri has organized multiple attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. “Kashmiri has supported attacks against Pakistani government personnel and facilities, including the 2009 attack against the offices of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistani police in Lahore, Pakistan that killed 23 people and left hundreds injured,” the US Treasury Department stated in a press release that announced his addition to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
A US intelligence official also told The Long War Journal that Kashmiri planned and organized the October 2009 assault on the Pakistani Army’s General Headquarters complex in Rawalpindi. In that attack, the terrorist assault team shut down the complex for 18 hours; 11 soldiers were killed, including a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel, along with nine members of the assault team; and 39 hostages were freed.
Kashmiri has also planned and executed high-profile assassinations of top Pakistani military leaders. “He directed the October 2008 assassination of the former commander of the Pakistani Special Services Group, General Amir Faisal Alvi, in retaliation for his role in the fight against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan,” according to Treasury. “He also led an al Qaeda-linked cell in planning for the assassination of a Pakistani Army general – a plan that was eventually abandoned due to al Qaeda’s strategic considerations.”
For more information on Ilyas Kashmiri and Brigade 313, see LWJ reports, Al Qaeda Brigade 313 website goes online, US adds Ilyas Kashmiri to list of designated terrorists, and Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army.’