Pakistani forces arrested 97 al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants in the southern city of Karachi in February 2016 and foiled a plan to break out of jail the killer of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
The men are accused of involvement in major attacks on two Pakistani air bases, the Karachi airport, intelligence headquarters, and on police installations between 2009 and 2015.
The LeJ’s Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, as well as Farooq Bhatti, deputy chief of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), were captured by Pakistani forces, military spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa said. “Our conclusion is that all of the terrorist groups are trying to cooperate with each other in order to carry out terrorist attacks,” he said.
The LeJ and AQIS had been working with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, Bajwa added. LeJ’s sectarian ideology is closely aligned with Daesh’s and supports killing or expelling Pakistan’s minority Shiites and establishing a Sunni theocracy.
Several of those arrested, including Bokhari, were in the advanced stages of planning a jailbreak on the Hyderabad Central Jail, Bajwa said. Khalid Omar Sheikh, who kidnapped and killed The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl in 2002, is being held at that jail and was to be released during the raid, he said.
Six suicide bombers had been enlisted, in addition to 19 involved in facilitating it, Bajwa said. More than 700 pounds of explosives were recovered from
a building believed to be a hideout.
The attackers planned to raid the prison compound with two vans filled with explosives, and had a list of about 35 prisoners they planned to kill, Bajwa said, displaying pencil sketches of the prison allegedly made by the militants. They had a separate list of about 100 prisoners, including Sheikh, whom they were supposed to release, he added.