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Militants resurface at Pak's Lal Masjid

Militants resurface at Pak's Lal Masjid

Author: Shafqat Ali
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: April 19, 2009

Days after the release of radical cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and his fiery Friday sermon, militant groups have resurfaced in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, campaigning for an Islamic system and urging a "jihad" against the United States and its allies.

The recharged madrasa (religious seminary) students, based in Maulana Aziz's Lal Masjid, have started distributing motivational literature and propaganda videos in this regard, this newspaper learned.

"We are selling these videos to show people scenes from the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan and muajhideen (holy warriors) attacking US-led coalition forces (in Afghanistan and Iraq)," said a young man outside the Lal Masjid.

The militants are selling "jihadi" films that include videos of suicide bombers and incite others to join the fight.

In one of the videos, young boys are shown being launched, covered in glory, as suicide bombers. The video is aimed at young, impressionable minds.

Some of the videos being sold outside the Lal Masjid are brought in from other areas, including the tribal agencies, while others are made in local markets, one madrasa student said.

Maulana Aziz's younger brother, Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, and hundreds of madrasa students in the Lal Masjid were killed in a 2007 military operation. Abdul Aziz himself was arrested just before soldiers stormed his Lal Masjid complex in 2007.

Before the 2007 operation ordered by former President Pervez Musharraf, Maulana Aziz had said more than 10,000 suicide bombers were inside the mosque premises and more than 100,000 across Pakistan.

Pakistan has been gripped by terrorism in the recent past with 1,395 people being killed in 2,084 terror incidents in the last 15 months.

Some 400 to 500 militants from Swat have already advanced to within 100 km of Islamabad and are threatening an Islamist takeover.

In bid to stop the "Taliban's march", the government recently imposed Islamic law in the Malakand and Swat regions to comply with the demand of the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Taliban.

Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was released on bail by the Pakistan Supreme Court on April 15, renewed his pledge on Friday to Talibanise Pakistan. During a sermon in the Lal Masjid, Maulana Aziz said, "We have made sacrifices for the cause and we will continue to do so. We want Islamisation of the country. The enforcement of Sharia (Islamic rule) in Malakand and Swat regions is due to our efforts and sacrifices."

The cleric returned to Lal Masjid on Friday as madrasa students chanted anti-US slogans.

***

23 killed in Pak attack

SHAFQAT ALI

ISLAMABAD

April 18: At least 23 people, eighteen of them policemen, were killed on Saturday in a suicide attack in Pakistan's Hangu district where the suicide bomber targeted a checkpost.

A police official said the suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden pickup into a police checkpost at Doaba area of Hangu district when a convoy of security forces was passing by.


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