Sindh’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) made notable achievements during 2020 by dismantling terrorists’ networks as well as choking terror financing, even though this wing of the provincial police force had little resources to boast of.
Talking to The News, CTD Sindh chief DIG Omar Shahid Hamid expressed hope that during the new year his department will further improve its capabilities for pulling apart the networks of terrorists and the chains involved in funding them.
Recalling the achievements made by the CTD over the previous year, DIG Hamid said they registered 211 cases related to terrorism, arrested 132 suspects, including 103 for their involvement in heinous crimes and 23 others for terror financing, and killed six terrorists in shootouts.
He said that according to the present status of the CTD’s performance during 2020, 16 cases were challaned under A-Class, 11 cases under C-Class and 24 cases in the court of law, while three resulted in convictions, 87 were pending in court for trial and 54 were in the investigation stage.
Giving the details of the arrested suspects, the CTD chief said that 17 of them belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London, 14 to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) different factions, 14 to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, six to the Lyari gangs and four to the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA), while 35 target killers and other criminals had no affiliation.
He said they registered 56 terror funding cases and
arrested 23 suspects: seven belonging to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, four to different TTP groups, three to the Haqqani network, two each to Daesh, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan,
the SRA and the Lyari gangs, and one to the Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan.
DIG Hamid said that the CTD killed six suspects in shootouts: the TTP’s Muhammad Adnan and Muhammad Rafiq, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s Saeed, alias Loha, and three others belonging to different criminal groups.
He said that the CTD Sindh was earlier dealing with only terrorism cases, but in the year 2020 they were assigned a new chapter of terror financing, in which they had much success with limited resources by registering 56 cases and arresting 23 suspects.
He added that their next target is to further improve the investigation department, especially by using technical gadgets and other equipment that can help them pursue terror funding cases.
Giving an example, the CTD chief said that terror financing investigation also covered a pistol recovered from a terrorist and finding out from whom the weapon had been received and from where the funds were issued for the commission of a terrorist attack or any other offence.
He stressed the need for the anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) to conduct speedy trials, lamenting that terrorists and their organisations have been benefiting from the delays of years faced in such trials.
He pointed out that they are improving their investigation branch by posting experienced officers with at least the rank of inspector, and from now on the criteria to judge their performance will not be the arrests they have made but their investigations of the cases and the resultant convictions.
He said that according to their plan for 2021, they will suggest the Sindh government to establish a provincial counterterrorism authority that will receive and collate data and disseminate it as well as coordinate between all the relevant stakeholders to formulate threat assessments, with periodical reviews to be presented to the government for making adequate and timely efforts to counter terrorism and extremism.
Moreover, he added, CTD officials will not be transferred to any other unit of the police force and their promotions will be based on their performances and course qualifications.
DIG Hamid said that the CTD will focus on terrorism, particularly monitoring the activities of various factions. He said that the CTD’s vision is to create the highest quality multi-disciplinary counterterrorism unit with the strategy to combat and prevent all forms of terrorism. The unit will have the mandate against all forms of terrorism as laid down in the 19th amendment and the ATC Act, to investigate and prosecute cases in the ATCs, he added.
The CTD chief said that their mandate is to collect intelligence on terrorists and sectarian activists, etc., use technical support in special operations, and investigate and prosecute terrorism cases, including bomb blasts, terrorist shootings, suicide bombings and target killings connected with terrorism.
The mandate includes the tracing of terror financing and taking action against criminal networks of terrorist organisations, including kidnappings for ransom, extortion and sabotage, he added.
He said his subordinates have been ordered to expand their intelligence network and increase intelligence-based operations throughout the province so that no untoward incident can occur.
DIG Hamid expressed his gratitude to Sindh police chief IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar as well as Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for the approval of the long-pending issue of increasing salaries of CTD officials.