Saturday, November 27, 2010

International Jihadists Use Karachi as Hub

Karachi is the pulsating heart of Pakistan, but the city of 18 million is descending into a maelstrom of violence. While NATO uses the port to support its war in Afghanistan, international jihadism has established strongholds in the metropolis's slums and suburbs. The circle had to be closed with blood, in order to wipe out the disgrace of the previous day. That's the way of life here -- the way of life in Karachi. The six men were heavily armed, and yet they still managed to get through all the checkpoints and reach Club Road in the red zone, a highly secured district in the heart of the city. The head of the provincial government has his official residence here, not far from the American consulate, two luxury hotels and the police headquarters, where the office of the young inspector Omar Shahid is located. As the head of the anti-extremism unit, Shahid was at the top of the attackers' hit list.

The terrorists started shooting at the entrance to the police station. For 10 minutes, they fired at the guards, who returned their fire, until a vehicle packed with 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lbs.) of explosives rammed the gate of the police station. The massive explosion destroyed the three-story building occupied by the counterterrorism division and set off a firestorm. At least 20 people, including the suicide attackers, died on the evening of Nov. 11. Some 120 police officers, residents and passersby lay bleeding under the wreckage, as well as an unknown number of members of the extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who had already been in custody at the police station. It was a retaliatory attack committed by al-Qaida's foot soldiers. On the previous day, a counterterrorism unit had arrested half a dozen of their fellow terrorists.

Omar Shahid was supposed to be one of the victims, but he happened to be on duty elsewhere on that evening. He is usually in command of counterterrorism units when they conduct raids against militant Islamists in the backstreets of Karachi neighborhoods like Sohrab Goth or Shershah Market. "They are showing us that they are there, and that they can strike back," Shahid says, speaking very calmly. He does not show any visible emotion. Otherwise he would be unable to deal with the situation. His office was destroyed by fire, and many of the people with whom he had been waging this battle for years are now dead.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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