The Sindh Rangers, during a press conference on Sunday, shared footage of the September 2 attack on MQM Pakistan leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, which took place in Karachi’s Buffer Zone area, and said that the attack was a “grave conspiracy to discredit police and law enforcement agencies”.
Hassan, who is the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, had escaped unhurt in the attack that took place on the first day of Eidul Azha. However, four others were injured in the incident.
Addressing the press conference, Rangers official, Col Faisal Arif, said that after the attack on Hassan, intelligence-based operations were conducted.
In the footage that was shown, Col Faisal said that one of the attackers, Hasaan, was seen wearing a police uniform while other, Sarosh, was seen wearing a T-shirt. He said that at the time of the attack, police were performing their duty at a nearby imambargah and had run out after they heard the firing.
“The policemen were running on foot to catch the attackers,” Col Faisal said, adding that it was discovered that three of the attackers belonged to Ansarul Shariah Pakistan (ASP).
“The attackers had tried to show that the police or the government was involved in the attack on the MQM leader,” he added, terming the attack a “grave conspiracy to discredit the police and law enforcement agencies”.
He said that various intelligence information and evidence regarding the ASP came forward after the incident.
The Rangers official, while briefing the media, said that the ASP is a small group of about 12-15 members, six to eight of whom are members of its target killing team. The remaining members provide back-up support and funding.
He identified the head of the group as Sheheryaruddin Warsi, alias Dr Abdullah Hashmi, and confirmed that he had been killed in an operation on Saturday night in Karachi’s Raees Goth area.
Eight members of the ASP were killed during the operation, he said, adding that four terrorists had fled. Col Faisal identified the remaining terrorists who had been killed as Arsalan Baig, Mehrul Haq, Saad Jamal, Hasaan Haroon, Talha Ansari, Kamran Riaz and Abubakr.
Raids are underway to find the four absconding terrorists ─ identified as Danish Rashid, Junaid Rashid, Sarosh and Muzammil ─ who fled the site of the operation on Saturday night, Col Faisal added.
Col Faisal said that Sheheryaruddin Warsi was the mastermind behind the group’s terrorist activities and operated ASP’s social media accounts. He was also the spokesperson for the group.
The Rangers official said all the terrorists were educated in institutions in Karachi and went on to receive terrorism training in an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, adding that they were “ideologically linked to the Al Qaeda”.
During various raids on ASP hideouts, a number of arms, ammunition, video recording devices, video recordings, and jihadi literature were recovered, he said.
In addition to targeting law enforcement officials, the group was involved in radicalising the youth and had drawn up a plan to do so.
The Rangers official revealed that people close to the militants had been interrogated and that it had become clear that none of their family members knew they were involved in such activities.
Target killings in Karachi
The Rangers Official said that the group initiated its activities in Karachi on 21 February when a police officer was killed in the city’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar area. Shehryaruddin Warsi had planned the attack on the official whereas the reconnaissance was carried out by Muzammil, Sarosh and Hasaan.
Later, in April, retired Col Ziaullah Nagi was killed as the group declared its affiliation with Al Qaeda.
On May 21, three police officers were killed in Karachi’s Bahadurabad area. Later in June, four police officers were killed while opening their fast in the Site area. The group was also responsible for the killing of District Superintendent Police Hanif Shah in Karachi’s Azizabad area, Col Faisal said.
He added that the group was involved in the killing of two police personnel near the Northern Bypass on August 17. Later that month, the group killed two guards of the Federal Board of Revenue.
Their last attack was carried out against MQM’s leader.
During the press conference, the Ranger’s official showed pictures of weapons, documents, recording devices, cameras and mobile phones that were recovered during Saturday night’s operation.
According to forensic reports, the weapons recovered during the operation matched those used by the group during their various activities, the official said.
The members of ASP had conducted reconnaissance for further attacks on police check posts and markets, Col Faisal added.