Suspects escaped before raids: Pearl kidnapping -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Suspects escaped before raids: Pearl kidnapping

MULTAN- Some of the ‘most wanted sectarian terrorists’ of a banned militant outfit escaped a couple of days ahead of police raids on their hideouts in Vehari on Friday last, sources said.

The Vehari police conducted three raids on different places simultaneously. It forced entry into a cyber cafe – Al-Ilm academy and internet club – in the city and took into custody its owner, Qari Rana Zulfiqar, his brother Ateequr Rehman, Naeem, Mushtaq, Tahir and others.

Similarly, the police raided the house of Ijaz alias Jajji Tarar, a wanted militant who died some time ago, and picked his father Anwar Tarar. The police also went to the house of wanted alleged terrorist Sheraz and in his absence took his father Ata Muhammad alias Fauji into custody.

As the Vehari arrests coincided with the arrests of alleged terrorists in other parts of the province in connection with the Daniel Pearl kidnapping, it seemed that the Punjab police had launched a crackdown to find a clue to the captors of the American journalist.

Multan range police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry, however, refuted that the arrests in Vehari had any link with the Pearl case. “We raided the places to arrest some wanted men,” he added, saying “Karachi police had not sought any help from Multan police.”

A senior police source in Vehari told that the police had conducted some raids in search of Fayyaz Tarar alias Fayyazy, younger brother of Jaji Tarar carrying headmoney of Rs1 million, and Sheraz, who was also wanted in a number of high-profile cases of sectarian killings in the area.

He said the Al-Ilm Internet club had been under scrutiny for the last two months, even before the pearl episode. “In fact we had information that the Internet club was a place where activists of a militant organization were used to meet, communicate and plan their strategy,” he said.

He said a gang of terrorists, affiliated to the banned militant outfit of Riaz Basra, comprising Shakeel Anwar, Fayyazy Tarar, Sheraz, Saleem, Abdullah, Javed Commando and Javed was reportedly involve in recent spree of terrorist acts in Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Vehari.

“According to our investigation, the gang is involved in Saddiq Kanju murder case and the massacre of over a dozen worshippers in a Bahawalpur church,” he asserted, emphasizing the “arrests of Fayyazy Tarar and Sheraz would be a needed breakthrough to break the network of terrorists in this part of the country.”

He said though Karachi police had not asked them for any specific assistance in the Pearl case, they (local police) would surely interrogate the arrested on this aspect as well to find any clue in the light of intelligence reports that the Shakeel Anwar gang had been to Karachi for a while and indulged there in criminal and terrorist activities.

VEHARI: Five more people were arrested from the district last night, reports Gulzar Baig.

Source identified two of the arrested as Muhammad Iqbal of Bilal Town and Muhammad Ahmed of Chak 59/WB.
Source: Dawn
Date:2/18/2002