Sectarian/Jihadi/Taliban terrorists released in Pakistan due to lack of evidence

‘Terrorists released in Pak due to lack of evidence’

New Delhi (PTI): The failure of the Pakistani police and security agencies to gather sufficient evidence has led to the release of a large number of dreaded terrorists of outfits such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban who are known to have participated in major attacks in Pakistan, a report said.

What is more worrying is that most of them have vanished into thin air soon after their release and were probably planning or participating in more attacks, the report said.

At least a dozen of those released due to lack of evidence are those involved in failed assassination bids on former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, including one in collaboration with some Pakistan Air Force officers in 2003, it added.

Quoting statistics of Pakistan’s Crime Investigation Department (CID), the report published in the Pakistani magazine ‘The Herald’ said that in the Sindh province alone, as many as “121 high-profile terrorists were released between 2002 and 2007. In each case, the prosecution’s case was not strong enough”.

Maintaining that the CID had prepared a list of such terrorists, the report titled ‘Catch and Release’, said among these 121 terrorists, 40 belonged to Sipah-e-Sahaba, 21 to Harkatul Mujahedeen, 19 to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, 15 each from Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkatul Mujahedeen al-Almi, eight from Sipah-e-Mohammed, two from Hizbul Tahrir and one from the Taliban.

It quoted an unnamed senior CID official as saying, “if you collect the list of militants from the remaining three provinces (of Pakistan), I am sure the number of those who are released would exceed several hundreds.”

“The majority of these boys are hardcore militants and I do not think they are the kind to be living a normal life. I will not be surprised if they are planning more attacks,” another officer was quoted as saying.

Among those released is one Sharafat Ali, also called Khalid Fauji, who is linked to Al-Qaeda and was the “architect” of two assassination bids on Musharraf in 2003 as well as the kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

The first attack on Musharraf was “coordinated with some junior officials of the Pakistan Air Force, who were indoctrinated and then recruited through a mosque preacher”, the report said.

The magazine named several terrorists, charged with serious violent crimes but released due to lack of evidence.

These included Sajid Jabbar alias Buddha of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who was alleged to have been involved in Daniel Pearl’s kidnap and murder, Sheikh Mohammed Athar alias Khalid Memon accused of carrying out a series of strikes in Karachi, Syed Ahmar Kazmi of Harkatul Mujahedeen al-Almi allegedly involved in several terror attacks including one on the Macedonian Consulate in Karachi and Hafiz Khalid of Sipah-e-Sahaba who allegedly carried out attacks on Shia mosques.

Many of them have “fallen off the radar of the security agencies”, the report said.

According to information obtained by the magazine, militants accused of carrying out a failed assassination bid on Musharraf in 2002 were released. They included one Hanif Khan and one Zafar Iqbal.