Pakistan: An intelligence notification obtained by ITCT Newsdesk reveals that Pakistani intelligence believes that family members of Hafeez Nawaz aka Abu Bakr al-Bakistani, the Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber who carried out the suicide bombing in Mastung, Balochistan in July 2018 that killed 149 people, have been groomed by IS to carry out attacks in Pakistan.
On 13th July 2018 during the election campaigning in Pakistan, a major suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group devastated the troubled province of Balochistan. The suicide bombing targeted campaign rally of a pro-government politician Siraj Raisani, who died in the attack.
Following the attack, Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group claimed responsibility via the Amaq Agency, the official propaganda channel of IS. Amaq also released the image of the masked suicide bomber named Abu Bakr al-Bakistani, whose facial features match those of Hafeez Nawaz, the man identified by Pakistani authorities as the Pakistani citizen who carried out the bombing. This confirms that Hafeez Nawaz and Abu Bakr al-Bakistani are indeed the same person.
Now, according to new information obtained by ITCT Newsdesk, the remaining family of Hafeez Nawaz is currently in an unknown location in Afghanistan, where they have been under training at an ISKP training camp. The terrorist group has been training Hafeez’s family members to carry out more suicide missions in Pakistan.
An intelligence notification obtained by ITCT Newsdesk reveals the identities of three of Hafeez Nawaz’s family members, including his mother.
Following is a brief English translation of the document that reveals the identities of the three family members of Hafeez Nawaz:
The document further warns that family members of Hafeez Nawaz may carry out a joint attack or separate attacks in one or more than one location in Pakistan.
The document carries files photos of the mother and two brothers of Hafeez Nawaz.
One of Hafeez Nawaz’s brothers and his father were arrested by Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in August from Banaras area of Karachi city. His father is named Muhammad Nawaz and his arrested brother is named Haq Nawaz. During the initial probe, Muhammad Nawaz told police that his three sons (including Mastung bomber Hafeez Nawaz), his wife and four daughters had moved to Afghanistan on May 29. He told the police that initially his ‘suicide bomber’ son was associated with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Fazlullah group, but later on he joined ‘Daud Mehsud group’ and then finally he was recruited by Islamic State. Two other accomplices of Hafeez Nawaz were also arrested in the same operation: Sheeraz alias Saifullah and Wali Ahmed alias Abu Ubaid. Both were identified as members of Jaish al-Adl group, which primarily targets Iranian interests and recently kidnapped a dozen Iranian border guards from Iran-Pakistan border. This was one of those very rare occasions when the interlinkages between TTP, Jaish al-Adl and Islamic State came to light.
The family of Hafeez Nawaz originally hailed from Molia village in Abbottabad but Hafeez Nawaz himself was a resident of Gharibabad Mohalla in Dhabeji, Thatta.
Hafeez Nawaz had studied at an Islamic seminary in Karachi city’s Shah Faisal Colony for three years where he adopted the path toward militancy. His certain colleagues at the seminary were instrumental in motivating him towards militancy and they allegedly sent him to Afghanistan. Two of his Jaish al-Adl associates also studied there with him.
As per the information provided by his father, his three daughters, who had been shifted to Afghanistan, were ‘Alima’ (religious scholars) and two of them had married IS militants there. His two more sons, Abdul Aziz and Abdul Shakoor, were also living in Afghanistan and Shakoor recently told his father that now “it’s his turn” to become a suicide bomber.
Hafeez Nawaz’s father along with his son used to sell milk and vegetables in the Dhabeji area.
Pakistani intelligence sources told ITCT Newsdesk that the father did not show any remorse or express any feeling of sadness when they informed him that his son had carried out a suicide attack in Mastung.
Hafeez Nawaz was recruited by Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group while he was working for TTP’s Haji Daud group. Haji Daud, also known as Daud Policewala, was a policeman in Karachi till mid-2000. He was then appointed as the city chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by now slain Mullah Fazlullah. Haji Daud later developed differences with Mullah Fazlullah and soon after that he joined the Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP) group. He was also reportedly injured in a clash with TTP militants in Afghanistan.
By tracing his mobile phone data, Pakistani intelligence reached the conclusion that Hafeez Nawaz had arrived in Chaman, Pakistan from Afghanistan on June 29. He was also in touch with at least nine persons, including three belonging to Sindh. He was later moved to Qila Abdullah and subsequently to Mastung, where he finally carried out the suicide attack on Siraj Raisani’s election gathering.
Soon after the Mastung attack, in the same month of July, Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies neutralized the Balochistan emir of IS, identified as Mufti Hidayatullah al-Balochi, in a counter-terrorism operation. Pakistani intelligence believed he was the mastermind of Mastung suicide bombing.
In September, Islamic State released issue no. 146 of its weekly al-Naba magazine, which featured a tribute article on Mufti Hidayatullah al-Balochi.
Just two days before the Mastung suicide bombing, Pakistani security institutions released multiple threat alert notifications warning of possible bombings and assassinations.
While talking to ITCT Newsdesk, ITCT Deputy Director Faran Jeffery said, “Since Afghans are under increased suspicion in Pakistan, Islamic State is looking to recruit more Pakistani citizens who would be able to operate in Pakistan more easily. IS activities in Pakistan are now not just restricted to Balochistan and Pak-Afghan border areas. In fact, there’s still a lot of TTP and Afghan Taliban influence in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which is why it is actually harder for IS to operate in those areas as opposed to a metropolitan city like Karachi, for instance. In past few months, Pakistani security services have carried out several raids in Karachi as well as in other areas of Sindh province, arresting multiple IS operatives. IS often looks towards criminals for recruitment and Sindh has a lot of criminals who are looking to make more money. Therefore, a place like Sindh is an ideal place for IS to quietly carry on its activities. Besides that, Sindh, and Karachi in particular, has been a hub of al-Qaeda [AQIS] activity in Pakistan, and many of these al-Qaeda operatives have now joined IS. Sindh is also home to tens of thousands of Islamic seminaries, most of which are unregulated. These Islamic seminaries pose a great and very easy opportunity for groups like IS to watch potential recruits before approaching them. The state of Pakistan would need to become extra vigilant against such unregulated Islamic seminaries because they pose an imminent security threat. Looking at Hafeez Nawaz’s case, among his all family members, I think his mother was the main influence behind his radical beliefs. His father gave himself up very easily and fully cooperated with Pakistani security services. He did not hide anything nor he showed any regret over his son’s death. I think he did not agree with his wife’s and son’s radical views.”
In 2015, during a parliamentary panel briefing, police chief of Sindh province Inspector General Police (IGP) Ghulam Hyder Jamali himself admitted that IS is active in Sindh province. Back then he had said that all intelligence agencies and security forces were on the same page to eradicate terrorism from Sindh, which had resulted in an 80% drop in terror attacks and a 53% decline in targeted killings.
A report on 2017 terrorist activity in Pakistan issued by Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) earlier this year in January revealed that IS activity is on the rise across Pakistan, and in northern Sindh in particular. The report revealed that in 2017, IS claimed as many as six deadly attacks, in which 153 people were killed, across Pakistan.