Militant group formed by former al-Qaeda operatives active in Karachi

Militant group formed by former al-Qaeda operatives active in Karachi

LAHORE: According to counter-terrorism authorities, Ansar al-Sharia is a militant group formed by former al-Qaeda operatives in early 2017.

The group rose to prominence when it started carrying out the killing of policemen in Karachi and. As of today, it has been linked with 7 terror attacks in Karachi alone, including the murder of a police officer on Faisal Highway in Karachi, the responsibility for which the group reportedly claimed. According to counter-terrorism officials, the group is said to operate in areas between Sindh and Balochistan.

The recent attack on MQM lawmaker Khawaja Izharul Haq brought the group into limelight and the involvement of intelligence agencies in the investigation that followed led to some of its members being unmasked.

The members that allegedly comprise its main kill team were found to be students with academic degrees. This revelation raised the concerns about the role of some academic institutions in harbouring and promoting extremism in the country. Reportedly, the group has no official cell present in Karachi University (KU) but is known to be a haven for those disillusioned by other militant groups such as al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Islamic State (IS). The presence of non-violent extremist groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) in academic institutions such as KU may also influence the vulnerable youth to find violent militant groups such as Ansar al-Sharia to put into practical use the idea of jihad against ‘infidels’.

Ansar al-Sharia considers the former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin to be its ideological father and is greatly influenced by his idea of jihad.

The group allegedly maintains a social media presence as well but the authenticity of its Twitter account is questionable.