Ten days after an assault on a gurdwara in Afghanistan’s Kabul killed 27 Sikhs, intelligence agencies have claimed the arrest of Mawlawi Abdullah, a.k.a Islam Farooqui, a Pakistani national, and four of his associates in connection with the attack.
“Afghan agencies have confirmed that Farooqui has been arrested, along with his associates,” a senior functionary at the National Security Council (NSC) told NDTV today. According to him Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) will shortly be sharing details of the arrest with Indian agencies.
According to intel already shared with India, Farooqui has links to Pakistan-based terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network.
“Farooqui’s original name is Abdullah Urakzai. He belongs to a tribal area in KPK (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and is from the Mamozai tribe in the Orakzai district,” a senior government official said.
A dossier maintained by agencies also said that in April 2019 Farooqui replaced Mawlawi Zia ul-Haq as ISKP (the Khorasan wing of ISIS) chief.
According to officials, before this Farooqui had been linked to the Lashkar and subsequently joined Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
“He had also sent fighters to Afghanistan to fight against the United States and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) forces,” the official added.
The others arrested are Masoudullah, a senior member of ISKP from KPK; Zahid Khan, a senior member of the Red Force Unit of ISKP; Salman, a terrorist from Karachi; and Ali Mohammad, a senior ISIS member from Islamabad.
Indian officials are hopeful Farooqui’s arrest will reveal details of a deep-rooted terror network in Pakistan.
“His arrest is a big breakthrough. We will not only get details about this attack, but also its links to Pakistan and the Taliban’s intent,” a counter-terror operative said, adding that more high-ranking terrorists’ could be revealed.
On March 25 a deadly attack took place at a gurudwara in Kabul’s Short Bazaar area. As many as 150 people were inside at the time and, in addition to the 27 Sikhs killed, several were injured.
At the time Indian intel agencies did not rule out the possibility the terrorists were targeting diplomats visiting the gurdwara.
“The attack was orchestrated by Pakistan’s ISIS, which is busy promoting ISKP to keep a check on Taliban,” a counter-terror operative explained, adding that the attack was a “win-win” for Pakistan as the Taliban would deny its role keeping in mind its agreement with the United States.
The Kabul gurdwara attack was the deadliest since a peace deal was signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha last month. Under the terms of the deal, the US agreed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, handing Pakistan the chance to promote terrorist groups in that country for its advantage.