Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pakistani jihadis get do-over

Pakistani courts have released as many as 80 hard-core jihadis from prison:
Anti-terrorism officers in Pakistan say they are deeply alarmed by the security situation. "We are back to square one and the situation is more precarious than it was before 9/11," one senior officer told The Sunday Telegraph. "They are planning more attacks. They have got huge backup. There are so many youths who are joining them. The old ones who are released from the prison are guiding and training the new cadres."
Isn't that just dandy? And these are not just lone, frothing-at-the-mouth militants:
Counter-terrorism officials are aghast at the decision by the courts to free so many people suspected of involvement in attacks. Police say many have since disappeared off the radar of intelligence agencies and are believed to be planning to strike.

Among those released recently are Sohail Akhtar (aka Mustafa), the operational commander of the outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami group. He has been blamed for a campaign that included a suicide attack in Karachi in which 11 French engineers died, the suicide attack on the US consulate, and the failed attempt on the president's life. Intelligence officers say Mustafa — who was initially sentenced to death before a court overturned the verdict — is also believed to have travelled to Iraq to establish contact between al-Qaeda and terrorists there. His interrogators described him as "a terrorist genius".

One official said: "He was the one who cobbled together all the jihadis, working under various organisations, by coining the slogan, 'The ways should be different but the goal should be one'."
But fear not...Pakistani government officials are on the case:
The government has called a meeting in Islamabad this week to discuss the release of militants. It may put forward a strategy to deter the courts from clearing suspects or releasing them on bail.
Horse gone; barn door closing.

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