Punjab govt claims it has ‘solid evidence’ of Zeeshan’s terror links


Zeeshan’s mobile phone shows him pictured alongside terrorist killed by CTD in Faisalabad, senior official reveals

–Officials admit CTD operation was “badly planned”, “poorly executed”

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Wednesday claimed that Zeeshan Javed, the driver of the Suzuki Alto car killed along with an innocent family in Sahiwal earlier this week, had links with a terrorist group.

In an in-camera briefing to journalists held by sources privy to the developments, a senior official claimed that Qutab-tul-Shuhada militant group was formed in 2008-09 and later pledged allegiance to Islamic State or Daesh in 2014. The group also had close ties with al-Qaeda.

The official also claimed that the group was involved in the abductions of US national Warren Weinstein, Brig Tahir Masood, Ali Haider Gilani and Umer Jillani, along with the murders of two officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Multan.

He claimed that in Sept 2018, a CTD source embedded with this group informed officials that the militants were planning to setup a base in Sahiwal. He said the information was corroborated by the presence of a silver coloured Honda City car (No. LE-7039) in Sahiwal on Jan 13. The same car was seen in Multan at the time of ISI Inspector Yasir’s murder, he claimed.

The official said that CTD recovered the Honda City from the hideout of two suspected terrorists – Usman Haroon and Abdul Hafeez – in Faisalabad on Jan 15. Both suspects were gunned down by the CTD personnel, who also recovered six suicide vests, 24 hand grenades, two AK-47 assault rifles and half kilogramme explosive material from the house.

It was stated that the security agencies traced the movements of the car till Nov 2017 and noticed that a white coloured Alto (No. LE-6683) used to act as a pilot vehicle for the Honda City. He said that upon investigation, the Alto was found to be registered in the name of Abdul Hafeez, who was gunned down in Faisalabad by the CTD agents.

According to the official, the CTD’s source informed them that the militants were planning to carry out a terrorist activity in Lahore. On the source’s information, a raid was conducted in the Misri Shah area during which CTD officials recovered 14 C4 slabs, eight hand grenades and 10kgs of explosives from the gear box of a vehicle.

Following this recovery, the CTD and intelligence agencies were on the lookout for the white Alto.

According to the official, on Jan 18, the Alto was spotted by safe city CCTV cameras at the Okara bypass and a CTD team was dispatched to arrest the suspects.

He claimed that the intelligence info regarding Zeeshan Javed was “100 per cent correct”, however the CTD operation was “badly planned” and “poorly executed”.

The official said that Zeeshan’s nexus with the militant outfit was further proven by a selfie found in his phone in which he was seen with Rizwan, who was allegedly involved in the killing of ISI Inspector Omer Mubin in Multan.

He said that data from Zeeshan’s mobile phone also shows him pictured with Usman, the terrorist killed by CTD in Faisalabad.

The official also played an audio recording – allegedly of Zeeshan – in which he could be heard expressing his interest in becoming a suicide bomber.

Elaborating on the killing of two suspected militants in Gujranwala hours after the CTD’s fake encounter in Sahiwal, the official claimed that the CTD’s source informed them that he had received a “threema” message from the group’s handler in Afghanistan directing him to transport Abdul Rehman and Kashif Langra – allegedly hiding in Zeeshan’s house in Chungi Amersidhu to Gujranwala as Zeeshan had been killed and CTD might raid his house.

Upon reaching Gujranwala, the official said, the CTD’s source got out of the car on some pretext, leaving the two suspected militants inside. He added that the two men “blew themselves up” as soon as the CTD officials reached there to arrest them.

Another official, who was present on the occasion, echoed the same that intelligence regarding the Sahiwal operation was authentic but the CTD had failed to execute it properly.

He said that questions related to the recovery of weapons and ammunition and whether Zeeshan had opened fire on CTD first would be answered in the joint investigation team’s detailed report.

He added that the JIT had confirmed that the family travelling with Zeeshan was innocent and that the CTD officials were responsible for their killing.

Subsequently, the Punjab government removed some top CTD officials and suspended others, while announcing to try five CTD officials responsible for the killings on terrorism and murder charges.