LAHORE: A premier intelligence agency has uncovered a plot to kidnap Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The conspiracy was unearthed after operatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) offshoot in Punjab –Punjabi Taliban – arrested on suspicion revealed they had completed their reconnaissance and had chalked out a plan to abduct Shahbaz from his residence in Jati Umra-Raiwind.
The law enforcement agencies took action on the agency’s tip-off and arrested a militant identified as Muhammad Usman. The man was an ex-student of an Islamic seminary situated in Bahawalpur and had received military training from North Waziristan Agency (NWA).
A resident of Raiwand, Usman played a key role in completion of the reconnaissance process as he owned a land adjacent to the residences of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at Jati Umra-Raiwind.
During the course of investigation Usman revealed that Ubaid alias Qari Muhammad Imran Group and Aslam Yasin alias Osama Group, commanders of Punjabi Taliban, had planned to kidnap Shahbaz Sharif to release their accomplices detained in high-profile cases of terrorism in different jails of the country, particularly in Punjab.
Commander Ubaid and Aslam Yasin were based at Miran Shah in NWA, and had also links with the TTP and Al-Qaeda, sources quoted Usman as telling investigators.
Both the commanders were involved in suicide attacks on former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, ISI Hamza Camp, GHQ’s check post and some other high-profile incidents of terrorism.
The names of both the militants are also mentioned in the Counter Terrorism Department’s Red BooK-2013 and a head money of Rs3 million is placed on them.
Sources said Usman was continuously in contact with one Muhammad Javed alias Sufi, also a resident of Pajiaan, Raiwand and resides at a seminary of Deoband sect, situated on Raiwind Road.
Both commanders of Punjabi Taliban contacted Usman and Javed and sent four terrorists identified as Tayyab, Talha, wife of Talha and another unknown person for reconnaissance and execution of the chief minister’s kidnap plan, the sources in the agency said.
On being quizzed, Usman revealed that they had completed the reconnaissance inside the Raiwand Complex and had visited the grave of the late Mian Sharif and the play area where the children of the late Abbas Sharif play. After completing the recce, the four militants returned to Waziristan for execution of the plan.
Usman said they had planned to enter the residences of the Sharif family taking advantage of the trees at the back of the complex. The terrorists were communicating primarily through the PCOs with minimal use of cell phones.
The suspected terrorists were conducting the activities from within the premises of the Tableeghi Markaz, Raiwind, which made it virtually impossible for the team to isolate them.
After the arrest of Usman, Javed suddenly disappeared and according to sources familiar with the investigations he has also reached Miran Shah.