Investigators suspect involvement of Dr Shahnawaz, founder member of Indian Mujahideen (IM) and on the run since Batla House encounter of September 2008 in Delhi in the third strike on Varanasi since 2005. According to sources this BAMS doctor from Azamgarh is now controlling remnants of IM, which was almost decimated after Batla House encounter. According to sources Shahnawaz had planted bombs in earlier two occasions.
Latest intelligence inputs show that IM under Shahnawaz was trying to recruit new cadres not only from Azamgarh but from areas surrounding Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. Sources say timing is the key. The Jama Masjid firing incident of September 19 this year took place on the second anniversary of Batla House encounter, whereas the Varanasi blast happened just a day after 18th anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. That indicates involvement of remnants of IM. They also say that use of low intensity explosives is also deliberate. The idea is to show IM’s presence but not in spectacular way so that it doesn’t become an India-Pakistan matter like the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The incidents at German Bakery in Pune, Jama Masjid in Delhi and now in Varanasi fit the pattern.
According to intelligence inputs, Iqbal Bhatkal and Riyaz Bhatkal, founders of IM are trying to regroup their outfit for the last two years. Iqbal Bhatkal is now in UAE, while his younger brother Riyaz is in Karachi.
The arrests of two alleged IM operatives-Shahzad Alam and Salman- in Uttar Pradesh provided solid evidences of IM’s regrouping. Both Salman and Shahzad were on the run since the Batla House encounter. Salman told that Shahnawaz is heading the IM’s ‘northern brigade’ which had been rendered headless after the killing of Atif Ameen in the Batla House encounter. Shahnawaz is the elder brother of Mohammad Saif, who was arrested by Delhi police on charges of planting bombs in Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.
Salman told after Batla House encounter he and Dr Shahnawaz were left India via Nepal along with three other IM members-Khalid, Abu Rashid, Bada Sajid. They procured forged Nepali passports and reached Sharjah. After reaching there, Dr. Shahnawaj contacted Amir Raza Khan in Pakistan on the internet. After a month and a half, Amir Raza Khan visited them in Sharjah. Iqbal Batkal was also present there. There they discussed plans to revive IM.
Then Salman along with another IM member Khalid went to Karachi for training in arms and ammunition in December 2009. There they met with Riyaz Bhatkal. After completion of training Riyaz sent Khalid to Sharjah and Salman was told to go to back to Nepal.
Salman also revealed that in a new strategy is being worked upon by the IM to was send fidayeens to attack ”high value” targets like foreigners.
The arrest of two accused persons – Himayat Baig and Bilal – in the German Bakery case also gave fresh insights into the IM’s western module. According to sources, Karachi based Zabiuddin Ansari, an accused in Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006 and a member of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) has joined hands with Riyaz Bhatkal and Amir Raza Khan at the instructions of his handlers in Pakistan. He along with Fayaz Kagzi, another LeT operative based in Pakistan, is trying to provide new recruits to IM from the area around Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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