Campus terror

Why Pakistan is afraid of its universities.

Lahore was considered immune to the kind of terrorism being experienced by Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, headquarters of the three other provinces. But last month, it was in Lahore that al-Qaeda was found operating its communications headquarters, from a large property that no one cared to check. Lahore is more like Islamabad, where al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists could be hiding in the outskirts, which have nearly 1,00,000 illegal squatters (most of them Pakhtun-Afghan), unplanned mosques, and the Arab-funded International Islamic University, where the founder of al-Qaeda, Abdullah Azzam, used to teach, and where al-Qaeda killers take sharia courses today.

In August, six terrorists, including four women, were arrested in Green Town in Lahore. Intelligence officials told reporters, “Al-Qaeda was operating an illegal gateway exchange, under the name of International Technical Hub, from [a] residence receiving signals from Afghanistan”. Additionally, weapons were found in the compound, which could have been used to keep kidnapped citizens before they were taken to the north for some destination in the tribal areas or Afghanistan.

Then, the Islamabad Police caught Hammad Adil, the Waziristan-trained upper-class mastermind of al-Qaeda. Adil, together with Abdullah Umar, the son of an army colonel who was dismissed for his terrorist affiliation, killed a senior officer of the Federal Investigation Agency who was prosecuting suspects in the famous 2008 Mumbai case, which involved terrorists from Pakistan whose confessions had cut very close to state involvement.

Tipped off in Islamabad, the ISI picked up six members of al-Qaeda’s suicide squad, along with their local handlers, from a Punjab University (PU) hostel in Lahore. Out of nine al-Qaeda members, four had taken special jihadi training in Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency, while the other five, from Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, were experts in electronic media and improvised explosive devices. From their physical appearance, the men looked like foreigners who often visited the Punjab University hostel.

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