What we know about Ansar-ul-Shariah Pakistan

September 9, 2017

Pakistani investigators inspect a police vehicle after it was attacked by gunmen attack in Karachi on August 11, 2017.
According to police armed motorcyclists open fire on police vehicle killing two policemen and a passerby while another poiceman succumbed to his injuries on his way to the hospital. / AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM

KARACHI: Ansarul Shariah Pakistan (ASP), the newly found terrorist outfit that was operating in Karachi and in some areas of Balochistan, has been busted by security agencies.

The group first surfaced in Karachi earlier this year when it targeted a security guard of police foundation in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar area. Law enforcers had no clue as to who was behind the killing of policemen in Karachi.

ASP had carried out at least seven terrorist attacks in Karachi. The first major target of the group was Tahir Nagi, a former army colonel (retd), who was gunned down near Baloch Colony flyover in April this year.

Policemen and other security personnel had been the main target of ASP. According to credible sources, the group had killed 10 uniformed personnel in Karachi alone.

But the latest attack on MQM lawmaker Khawaja Izharul Haq on the first day of Eid ul Azha landed the group in trouble.

A senior official told this scribe that police were struggling to find the whereabouts of the ASP’s members but their attack on Khawaja Izhar and the subsequent killing of an assailant in a retaliatory fire got them a big lead. And as a result, intelligence agencies managed to unmask other members of the group.

Samaa.tv has learnt that Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, a student of applied physics, and Sheheryar alias Dr Abdullah Hashmi a lab technician in a private university, were well known in extremist circles.

A source who knew both the suspects told this scribe that they were once active members of Jaish-e-Muhammad and used to collect funds for the proscribed organization.

Did their parents know of it?

One of the neighbours of Abdul Karim Sarosh Siddiqui, requesting anonymity, told Samaa.tv that 10 to 15 young men used to visit Siddiqui’s residence every night.

“Some neighbours complained to his father about the parking of motorbikes outside their homes,” he said. Siddiqui’s father told them “they were doing combined study”.

Do proscribed outfits have cells in universities?

A security official told this scribe that there is no organized cell of any proscribed organization in Karachi University. He, however, said proscribed Hizb-ut-Tahrir – a non-violent Islamist group – does have some presence in the campus.

“Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) officially doesn’t endorse use of violence for the establishment of caliphate in the country but its members are young who can easily be swayed by other banned outfits,” he said.

He said terrorist outfits find HuT-inspired students a soft target.

“They tell them you can’t install a system of caliphate in Pakistan by non-violent means and that you will have to take up arms for the holy mission,” he added.

Al-Qaeda connection

According to sources, the group had first worked with militants linked to Daesh, and later after developing differences left the group and tried to contact Al-Qaeda operative Abdullah alias Haji Baloch.

According to group’s literature found on social media, TTP commander Haji Mansour Mehsud and a pupil of al-Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Suri played an important role in the formation of this group. However, they are not the part of group’s organizational structure.

Although the group had been operating independently, it was inspired by al-Qaeda chief Ayemen al-Zawahiri’s ideology. – SAMAA