All aboard the militants’ train
By Fawad Shah
June 28, 2010
Around 20 would-be militants have left Karachi for training
KARACHI: “Congratulations, your son has embraced Shahdat” the parents of a young militant were told by an unknown caller about a month ago.
They are the parents of a young man, Ejaz, who was killed in Nakhtaroghar area of Orakzai agency when security forces shelled a training camp there. They had received confirmation about their son’s death from none other than the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The couple, who lives in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, said that they received a call from an unknown person.
“We did not tell him to become a militant,” the mother said, adding that their identities should be kept secret, because if the matter became public the family, including her other children, would be needlessly harassed.
Insiders say that Ejaz was one of three militant-cadets enrolled at a training camp in February for a three-month course. The short course included lectures and practical training on using small and heavy weapons and preparing bombs from scratch.
Karachi, it seems, is not keeping all its criminals just to itself but even sending some out for training. According to sources, 21 young men from different parts of the city have been sent to the tribal areas to train as militants in the past two months.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is busy recruiting fresh blood from the city to train and fight against ‘infidels’ in Afghanistan, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Defence analyst, Professor Khadim Hussain, who has been closely monitoring the army operations against militants, said that Karachi remains a hub of militants. “Most of the ideologues are provided by seminaries in Karachi,” he said, adding that TTP sleeper cells in Karachi played an important role during the Operation Rah-e-Rast, when they provided shelter to fleeing militants and even helped some of them escape to the Middle East.
According to sources, the aspiring jihadists that left Karachi for training were from North Nazimabad, SITE Town, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and one from Clifton. They were all between the ages of 18 and 30.
They were taken in smaller groups to Peshawar via trains, which is the preferred mode of transportation since security measures at railway stations are relatively more relaxed.
In Peshawar, these men are handed over to local militant groups’ leaders. These local groups then finance and care for the rest of the journey to Orakzai and Kurram agencies. The route chosen is via Khyber Agency, where a local Islamic militant group has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with TTP leaders, allowing the TTP to operate in their area, according to intelligence reports received by the Peshawar police officials.
According to sources in the TTP, the recruitment of these young militants was carried out by members of sleeper cells belonging to various militant organisations.
After training, these men would be assigned different tasks.
“Our government is impotent and is ruled by the US,” said a senior TTP commander, “The public wants to fight against the US and the young men who recently volunteered for military training are evidence of this,” the commander told The Express Tribune, sitting in a well-decorated flat in the heart of the city.
Raja Omar Khattab, the SSP of the Special Investigation Unit that is monitoring militant activity in the city, said that militants are active in Karachi. According to him, the police have been able to arrest many of these militants. He feels that militant recruitment in Karachi was a thing of the past.
However, Hussain expressed that “militants from Karachi are the most influential segment of the TTP”.
The portrait of a young militant
Muhammad Ali feels that he is a lucky man.
The 27-year-old resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal studied law and political science from a local college. At present, he is preparing for a journey to the war-torn tribal areas of the country, where he plans to attack the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan.
Ali has been involved in militancy for three years.“I really enjoyed the last battle in Helmand,” Ali said. His enjoyment was derived from killing seven British soldiers in an ambush and escaping safely to Pakistan. “You do not know the nature of these angraiz soldiers,” he said. According to Ali, the soldiers were travelling on the main highway and he and his fellow militants were sitting atop Gurgur Hills in the area.
Ali was trained in Miran Shah, where he first went in 2007. The most difficult part of the training was running uphill and constructing a bomb out of raw material, he said. But the sermons of the group commander kept them motivated, he added.
“I am technically sound,” Ali said. “I was trained in a camp where guerrilla tactics were taught by Arabs, and bomb preparation and use of guns by an Uzbek,” he revealed.
Discussing his hopes for the future, Ali said that “After conquering Afghanistan, we will implement Shariah in Karachi.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2010.
All aboard the militants? train – The Express Tribune