Pakistan army on Friday said nearly 100 hardcore militants have been arrested, who were involved in several major terror attacks and planning to free top al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, who was allegedly involved in the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
Army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that 97 terrorists belonging to top terror networks like al-Qaeda in the Indian sub-continent, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were arrested during ongoing intelligence-based operations in the city.
The militants had set up joint task team for carrying out terror attacks in the country and they had been involved in some major terror attacks in the past like the Mehran airbase Karachi, Jinnah airport in Karachi, PAF base in Kamra and several others, Bajwa said.
“The first few militants were arrested a few months ago and it led to more arrests,” he said.
The arrested militants were also planning to break Hyderabad jail near here, a plan Bajwa described as “nearly executed”, to release top al-Qaeda leader Umer Sheikh, sentenced to death for killing The Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Umer Sheikh, who was released by India in 1999 and given safe passage to Afghanistan in exchange for the nearly 150 passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814, allegedly also played a crucial role in the September 2001 attacks in the US.
The perpetrators also had a list of 35 prisoners they wanted to kill, he said.
Bajwa said Karachi operation launched in September 2013 had achieved major success as over 12,000 suspects were arrested in over 7,000 raids, leading to dramatic decrease in crimes of killings, kidnapping and extortions.
He, however, stressed that more work needed to be done to completely rid the metropolis of violence and terrorism.
“The Karachi operation will continue till complete peace is achieved in the city,” he said.