Lal Masjid’s expansionism, militant links alarms agencies: report

(FILES) In this picture taken 28 March 2

Security agencies have warned the government that the resurgence of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz poses a security threat to the law and order situation in the capital due to his links with known militant groups, a report in the local media said on Sunday.

They also stressed the need for a check on the growing number of madrassas in Rawalpindi and Islamabad who also have overt and covert links with militant groups.

A report titled ‘Activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz’, forwarded to the Interior Ministry by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), says that the “Lal Masjid mafia” has links with militant groups and land grabbers and is currently reorganising the Ghazi Force militant group spawned by his own followers after the Lal Masjid operation.

“Activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Lal Masjid administration, if not checked / contained can subsequently create [a] serious law and order situation in [the] twin cities,” the report said.

The report highlights the links between the Taliban and the Lal Masjid cleric, stressing the importance of the Taliban choosing Abdul Aziz as a representative on the committee formed to negotiate with the government on their behalf.

 

The report names “notorious land grabber” Taji Khokhar as someone who has been arranging land for the construction of seminaries, funded by the Lal Masjid administration, and also assists them with their court cases. The report also names property tycoon Malik Riaz and former MNA Shah Abdul Aziz of Karak as the controversial cleric’s “sympathizers”.

The report says that Riaz is “financially supporting the [seminaries] of Abdul Aziz for payment of utility bills and supported the cleric in building a mosque in Bahria Town that has been renamed Jami Hafsa.

The former MNA Shah Abdul Aziz was arrested in 2009 for allegedly helping a Taliban militant escape from Islamabad. The man was said to be hiding in Maulana Abdul Aziz’s G-6 residence.

‘Lal Masjid mafia’

The report points out that a small all-girls seminary – the Jamia Syeda Summaya in Sector G-7/3 – is managed by the Lal Masjid administration and has already been renamed ‘Jamia Hafsa’. “They are reportedly planning to grab Al-Falah Mosque, located adjacent to this seminary, as the management of Al-Falah Mosque has resisted and filed a case against them in court.” Abdul Aziz is currently residing in the same Jamia Hafsa.

Similarly, the report refers to the construction of another Jamia Hafsa branch in the Mal Pur village, against the wishes of local residents.

Return of the cleric

On Friday, Abdul Aziz returned to lead the Friday congregation at the Lal Masjid and delivered a sermon demanding implementation of Sharia in the country.

With a heavy contingent of police and rangers personnel posted outside, Abdul Aziz presented a charter of demands, calling for the implementation of Sharia law in the country, the establishment of a strong committee of senior clerics to ‘Islamise’ existing laws of country and abolish traditions which, according to him, were un-Islamic.

Asher John

Writer is the former Chief News Editor of Pakistan Today and former Editor Quality, Daily Times. He can be reached at [email protected]



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