Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan arrests militants with al-Qaeda links

GOD'S BRIGADE Police say eight fighters rounded up at the weekend belong to a new terror group that has been involved in major attacks since January


Police in Pakistan's commercial capital Karachi yesterday identified a new terror group which they said trained under al-Qaeda fighters near the Afghan border and was involved in various attacks, including one on the city's top army general.

Eight of 11 militants rounded up in separate raids at the weekend had formed an outfit called Jund Allah, meaning God's brigade, Sindh province police chief Kamal Shah told a press conference here.

The three others included al-Qaeda terror planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's nephew Musabir Urumchi and two members of the outlawed but highly active Sunni Muslim militant gang Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Warriors of Jhangvi).

"The Jund Allah group is a new terror group which has links with al-Qaeda, and their members have been trained in Wana," Shah told reporters.

He specified that they were trained in a tribal village near Wana, capital of the remote semi-autonomous district of South Waziristan, called Shakai and less than 30km from the Afghan border.

Pakistan's army and air force have been pounding an al-Qaeda training camp near Shakai in since Friday, but it was not clear if it was the same camp at which the Jund Allah members had trained.

Shah said the Jund Allah group carried out last week's attack on the Karachi army commander's convoy, which killed 11 people including seven troops, three policemen and a pedestrian but missed the general.

"The same group has been involved in major terrorist attacks since January, including the double car bomb attack near the residence of the US consul general," he said.

One policeman was killed and more than a dozen people injured in the May 26 twin attack.

The Jund Allah fighters, however, had not taken part in sectarian killings, he said, such as two suicide bomb attacks on minority Shiite mosques in violence-wracked Karachi in May.

The Jund Allah leader, identified as Attaur Rehman, told interrogators they were targeting Westerners, foreign missions, army and police officers, Shah said.

Rehman told investigators his group was acting in retaliation to the government's campaign to eradicate al-Qaeda-linked fighters from its northwest border regions.

Chief police investigator Fay-yaz Leghari said Rehman told interrogators that Pakistan had sacrificed its honor to please the US, with whom it is closely allied in the "war on terror."

"You have sold your pride and honor to please the Americans and we will take revenge from you and your masters," Leghari quoted Rehman as saying.

At least 20 members of Jund Allah had been identified and there could be more, Leghari said. "They are all from Karachi," he told reporters.

All of the 11 except Mohammad's nephew were to be brought before an anti-terrorism court later yesterday, he said.

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