Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan plan to kill Afridi
The Pakistani Taliban may attack the central jail in Peshawar to abduct or kill Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who helped the Central Intelligence Agency track down and kill Osama bin Laden, according to Inter Services Intelligence.
The deputy commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has already threatened to kill Dr Afridi to avenge bin Laden’s death.
Dr Afridi, who was sentenced to 33 years rigorous imprisonment on charges of treason by a Pakistani court on May 23, has been shifted to a special cell in Peshawar prison under stringent security.
The doctor, who was working for the CIA, has been sentenced under Pakistan penal code clauses which are related to offences against the State, conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan, concealing with intent designs to wage war against the State and for working against the sovereignty of the country.
Dr Afridi was moved to the central jail in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Dozens of terrorists belonging to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other deadly jihadi organisations, including Al Qaeda [ Images ], are inmates of the same prison.
The Inter Services Intelligence directorate has reportedly recommended to Pakistan’s interior ministry that Dr Afridi be shifted to a prison in Islamabad because the Peshawar prison is an easy target for the Taliban.
The ISI reminded the ministry that around 200 Taliban militants attacked the central jail in the Bannu district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on April 15 to free Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistan air force employee who had been condemned to death by a military court for the 2003 assassination attempt on General Pervez Musharraf.
The Taliban attackers also freed 384 of 944 prisoners held in the jail. Smashing the main gate of the prison open, the terrorists attacked from all sides of the prison while blocking all the approach roads to cut off reinforcements.
The prison guards did not put up even token resistance and readily obeyed the terrorists’s orders to stand aside. The terrorists knew exactly where Rashid was being held. The attack continued for about two hours.
No military or police reinforcements were sent to counter the terrorists although the prison authorities later claimed that news of the attack had been communicated almost immediately.
The police reinforcements arrived after the terrorists left, making even their precautionary blockade of routes leading to the prison unnecessary.
Such a lapse of intelligence, after a series of security breeches — especially the 2009 attack on the Pakistan army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the 2011 fidayeen attack on the Mehran naval base in Karachi — casts serious doubts over the Pakistani security establishment’s ability to discharge its duties adequately.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban recently released a video of the Bannu jail assault in which fugitive TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud is seen briefing terrorists with the help of a map with different routes leading to the prison. The video shows some 200 Taliban fighters gathered at one location and discussing a strategy to attack the jail.
The ISI has warned the interior ministry of the possibility of a Bannu jail-like assault in Peshawar. The TTP’s deputy leader Waliur Rehman recently called a newspaper and warned, ‘We consider Shakil Afridi our enemy. Our fighters will kill him wherever they find him. He has done everything for money and he will have to pay the price.’
‘We will get him (Dr Afridi) as soon as possible to avenge the killing of Sheikh Osama bin Laden,’ Rehman added.
ISI officials believe the location of Peshawar prison make it vulnerable to a Bannu jail-like attack by the Taliban.
Flanked on one side by the Grand Trunk Road, and on the other three sides by the congested Saddar area, the Peshawar prison can be targeted quite easily.
According to intelligence sources, the Taliban are considering two options: The terrorists will either attack Peshawar prison, abduct Dr Afridi and let their leaders decide his fate; or they will use an inmate in the jail to kill the doctor in prison.
Additional police personnel have been deployed outside Peshwar prison; machine guns have been installed on the walls of the prison facility as well.