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Pakistan bans offshoot of proscribed sectarian group

Official says group is based in Khyber Pakhunkhwa

Reporting | - Posted: Aug 19, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Aug 19, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Pakistan bans offshoot of proscribed sectarian group

Pro-Syrian government forces salute during a funeral ceremony in Damascus. (File photo: AFP)

Pakistan’s government has proscribed a group identified as Khatam-ul-Ambia for being an offshoot of a banned organisation involved in terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, according to a notification issued by the ministry of interior on Wednesday.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority has added Khatam-ul-Ambia’s name to its list of proscribed organisations after the ministry of interior issued the notification.

The notification, however, didn’t reveal the name of the banned group that Khatam-ul-Ambia is an offshoot of.

An official of the ministry of interior told SAMAA Digital that Khatam-ul-Ambia is an offshoot of outlawed Ansar-ul-Hussain.

Related: Despite ISIS defeat, Pakistani men are still fighting in Syria

“It is linked with Ansar ul Hussian proscribed by the Ministry of Interior in 2016,” said the official, requesting anonymity. The organisation is based in Khyber Pakhunkhwa, added the official.

Banned in December 2016, Ansar-ul-Hussain is a sectarian group believed to be recruiting Shia men in Kurram district and other areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for fighting against ISIS in Syria.

Coffin of a Liwa Zainebiyoun fighter is being taken for funeral in Iran’s Qom city on March 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy: IRIB News)

The ISIS group has lost its territory in Syria and Iraq but the counter-terrorism officials in Karachi had told SAMAA Digital in March that Pakistani men were still actively participating in the Syrian conflict.

The information had come from an arrested man believed to be a recruiter for Liwa Zainebiyoun and had been to Syria to fight ISIS. The arrested man had told investigators, according to a security official, that around 250 Pakistani fighters were still active in Syria.

The Liwa Zainebiyoun (People of Zainab Brigade) is a pro-Iran group of Pakistani fighters. It was formed to protect the shrine of Sayyidah Zainab (AS) in Syria from ISIS in what is believed to be 2014 or 2015.

The involvement of Pakistani men in Syria is an open secret. In the last week of February 2020, at least 18 Liwa Zainebiyoun were killed during attacks by Turkish forces in Syria’s Idlib province. Their funeral prayers were held in Iran’s Qom city in March.

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Iran, Pakistan, Liwa Zainebiyoun, Syria, Khatam-ul-Ambia, Ansar-ul-Hussain
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