Following the recent arrest of several militants associated with Daesh or the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from Sindh and Punjab, reports have surfaced that a Balochistan-based militant is likely to assume the charge as Daesh’s chief in Pakistan, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Per reports, the militant commander, identified only as Haji Sahib, is in constant touch with his counterparts in Afghanistan. However, counter-terror experts have different views on this development as some of them confirm this information while others refuse the same on different grounds.
Who is Haji Sahib?
Haji Sahib is stated to be a Balochistan-based contractor of militants in Pakistan and works with his Afghanistan-based leadership. He hires militants and finances militant groups. The person in question was accused of financing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al Qaeda to strengthen their network(s) in Pakistan. Haji Sahib is believed to have financed major terrorist activities in the past. According to reports, Haji Sahib is brother of Ramzi Yousef, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, bombing of Philippine Airlines flight 434 and a co-conspirator in the Bojinka plot.
Views of experts
According to encounter specialist SSP Malir Rao Anwar, Haji Sahib is a terrorist who finances terrorist groups in Pakistan. He used to operate from Wadh and Pishin, but now he has extended his influence to Balochistan’s capital Quetta.
He said that there was no concept of militancy in Balochistan since the nationalists were not believed to be religiously rigid, but now Mengals of Balochistan were running a seminary which could be assumed as the nursery of militants in Balochistan – the province likely to become the economic corridor between Pakistan and China”.
The SSP further said that there are some reports that Haji Sahib would be assuming the charge as Daesh’s Pakistan chief shortly, but I am confident that it would be nearly impossible for him to extend operations of Daesh in Pakistan in the presence of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The SSP further said that he was part of a joint investigation report prepared recently keeping in view the role of Haji Sahib and emergence of Daesh, but he could not share its findings.
On the other hand, Sohrab Goth police station’ former SHO Shoaib Ahmed said that he had worked a lot on ISIS after the Safoora carnage and on the basis of information and evidence he had it was not out of place to say that Daesh was operated by Haji Sahib from Wadh area of Balochistan.
Talking to Pakistan Today, another Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) official Raja Umer Khattab nevertheless rejected the development, saying that there was a difference in the ideologies of both ISIS and al Qaeda.