Pakistan arrests 97 militants, prevents jailbreak plan

Pakistan arrests 97 militants including Al Qaeda members and prevents plans to escape Daniel Pearl's killer from prison

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Mugshots of arrested militant suspects are seen on a projection during a new consference in Karachi, Pakistan in this still image taken from video on Februrary 12, 2016

The Pakistan military said on Friday that they arrested 97 militants from three different militant groups; including three commanders in the southern city of Karachi and prevented an attempt to break out the murderer of journalist Daniel Pearl from the Hyderabad Central Jail.

The three militants groups were Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a sectarian anti-Shiite militant group, and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

They were “working together on the plot,” military spokesman Lieutenant General, Asim Bajwa, said in a news conference.

"Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks," he added.

Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan from LeJ, and Farooq Bhatti from AQIS were among the militants the Pakistani Army captured in recent months.

In 2002, Khalid Omar Sheikh had kidnapped and killed the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl.

Six suicide bombers and 19 facilitators were involved in the plan to break out Sheikh, Bajwa said.

More than 350 kg (772 lb) of explosives were also recovered from a building, believed to be a hideout.

The plotters also had a list of prisoners to kill, while rescuing around 100 prisoners beside Sheikh.

Bajwa added that the same cell was behind major terrorist incidents across the country; including the 2014 siege of Karachi airport, as well as attacks on a naval base, air base, and intelligence headquarters in the cities of Multan and Sukkur.

Pakistani police surround Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, on death row for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, as he leaves a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002

British-born Sheikh was arrested in 2002 after the murder of Pearl, and sentenced to death, while three other co-accused received life imprisonment, one of whom was cleared in 2014.

In January 2011, a report by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University in the US claimed that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl's murder.

The investigation, led by Pearl's friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor, claimed the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged brain behind the September 11 2001 attacks, not Khalid Omar Sheikh.

Self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay Prison.


TRTWorld and agencies