Jandullah, Jamaat and Jehadis – how Jandullah became Al-Qaeda


Guest post by Ali Chisti

Recently, the Karachi Police had found an organization named, “Jandullah” for the terror attack cum bombing on the Moharram Ashura procession killing more than forty-five people in Karachi. The name Jandullah was previously linked to a similar organization based in Baluchistan who had carried out attacks in Iranian Baluchistan and another organization which had previously carried out attacks in Indonesia and was an off-shoot of Jamaat-e-Islami, Indonesian chapter.

However, the Karachi based Jandullah chapter is apparently a lot different from it’s Baluchi and Indonesian counterparts. The creation of the Karachi-based Jandullah (Army of God) was a prime example of al-Queda’s changing face in Pakistan. The group was founded originally by Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wings, Islami Jamiat e Talba’s Attar Rehman, a Karachi University student of Statistics who was arrested in June 2004 on the charge of masterminding, a series of terrorist attacks in Karachi, targeting security forces and government installations. The eldest son of a local businessman, he grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Karachi and worked actively for the radical Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan.

Rehman’s journey to terrorism began after he in 1991 when he went to Afghanistan to receive military training at a jihadist camp setup by Jamaat-e-Islami linked, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen close to Afghan border. Rehman who was an active member of mainstream Islami Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and founder of Jandullah told his interrogators that he formed Jundullah after the arrest of top al-Queda operatives n March, 2003 including that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad – the master mind of 9/11 who was caught from Rawalpindi, Pakistan from the residence of a Jamaat-e-Islami’s serving deputy mayor.

Amir Mir a journalist par excellence; an authority on Jehadi nexus, whose books had been banned in Pakistan wrote, “Jundullah was just another name for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which had stuck up a strong working relationship with al-Queda.” He also reveals that “the other organization suspected of close operational ties with al Queda is basically Harkatul Muhahedin al-Aalamai an off-shoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Jedahi Organization, Harkatul Mujadedin “.

It is however interesting to note that two of the al-Aalami militants including the al-Aalmai ameer, Mohammad Imran bombed the US consulate in Karachi; the bombing was similar to the bombing of Egyptian Embassy bombing in Islamabad which later, Osama Bin Laden’s deputy in his book “Knights under the Prophet’s Banner”. Ayman Zawahiri took full credit for the attack, noting that his first choice for the target was the U.S embassy there, but it was so strongly fortified that he judged it too hard to hit. Imran the ameer of al-Aalami claimed in court to be a member of Harkatul Mujahedin and said that al-Aalami was the product of the rangers and security denying the split between the Harkat.

Obviously the creation of such splinter groups had two reasons alone:
1) to create a smoke-screen to take the heat away from the parent organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Harkatul Mujahedin who are closely linked with certain rogue elements within in the state and members of Jamaat-e-Islami
2) to confuse the investigating agencies who were using the divide and rule to get rid of the powers of the jehadi factions gone rouge.

Jandullah was initially a well-knit cell comprising of some 20 militants, most of them in their twenties and thirties; educated from professional working classes. The group would take on doing the “unthinkable”; they planned on to assassinate, army’s top commander in Karachi, General Ahsan Saleem Hayat who later appointed by General Mushraff as hs second in-command of the Pakistan Army.

In June, 2004, Rehman a former student leader of IJT and now a founder of Jundullah attached the motorcade of the Corps Commander Karachi, General Ahsan Saleem Hayat who narrowly escaped but 11 people including eight soldier, were killed in the attack right in the centre of the city.

Later, Rehman did not show any sign of remorse when he was presented before a high-security anti terrorism court in Karachi. “I have not done anything wrong” he shouted as he emerged from the courtroom.

Later Jundullah would also attack on army, rangers, police stations and a car bombing outside the US-Pakistan cultural centre in Karachi. Among others who were arrested for their association with Jundullah was Akmal Waheed, a cardiologist and his brother Arshad Waheed an orthopedic surgeon. Both men were active members of Jamaat-e-Islami and were associated with Jamat-i-Islami’s Medical Wing, Pakistan Islamic Medical association; they provided active medical treatment and shelter to top Al-Queda fugitives and had been linked for treating Osama Bin Laden’s kidney’s too.

On 07/03/2004 the Karachi police arrested the brothers after the cell phone numbers of the two doctors were found in Ata-ur Rehman mobile phone memory. Dr. Akmal Waheed and Dr. Arshad Waheed were suspected of assisting wanted militants to escape from the authorities and providing medical treatment to three fugitives: Abu Massab, Gul Hasan and Qassam-al-Sani, who were wounded in the Gen. Hayat Attempt, without informing the police. Their arrest was capped in secrecy for a while, which caused the family to believe they were kidnapped for ransom. The arrest of the Waheed brothers was made public only on 07/13/2004.

The police also found out that the Wahed brothers also treated Shahzad Bajwa, alias Abdullah, the depute of Ata-ur Rehman, after he sustained injuries, on 03/19/2004, during an attack on a mobile van of Pakistan Rangers, at Shan/Bismillah Taqi Hospital in Karachi.

The Waheed brothers were sentenced on 03/14/2005 to 7 years imprisonment.

The police claimed that “The car recovered from the accused (Akmal and Arshad Waheed) is the one which was hired by earlier arrested Jundallah’s Amir in Karachi, Ata-ur-Rehman, which later on, had remained in their use.” Ata-ur-Rehman, the chief of Jundallah, had confessed that Dr Akmal Waheed and Dr Arshad Waheed had close links to him and were extending help by all means, the police spokesman added.

Dr. Arshad & Akmal Waheed were, eventually, acquitted. on 07/11/2006, in an appeal court. Following his acquittal Dr. Arshad Waheed shifted his activity to South Waziristan and was running a clinic in Wana, FATA region. Dr. Arshad Waheed was allegedly killed in a US missile attack, on 03/16/2008, in Wana, South Waziristan.

Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan apparently a close aide and ideological father of Jundallah and Harkat slammed everyone for arresting the brothers privately but a slap on their faces came when Al Qaeda’s media wing Al Sahab Media Foundation released the third part of a series of videos entitled “The Protectors of the Sanctuary.” This was also the first time Al-Queda had use URDU in there language instead of Arabic which was significant…

The 40-minute compilation video commemorates Dr. Arshad Waheed Shaheed, the Wana based kidney specialist who had links with all Jamaat-e-Islami, Jundallah and al Qaeda and who was killed in a U.S. missile attack in March 2008.

It is pretty much apparent that Al-Queda has successfully established working relationship with various jehadi and sectarian organizations originally made up by establishment to counter the Indian’s in Kashmir through proxy and helped prolonged our ill-thought off policy of Strategic Depth. It is also important to note; why a large number of Jamaat-e-Islami has linked up and sheltered Al-Queda members? It is also an established fact now that the GHQ attack master-mind was also a Jamaat-e-Islami member apart from the fugitives form the attacks on the Sri-Lankan team took refuge at Mansura, JI’s headquarters in Lahore. A connection which is often ignored: at times deliberately.

(The writer Ali Chisti is from Karachi and an Anti-terrorism expert from Pakistan.  He is also politically active in Pakistan.)

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