60 Taliban leaders have escaped to Middle East

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Karachi, Oct.19 (ANI): Around 60 of the Taliban's second-cadre leaders - who fled Swat during the army's 'Operation Rah-e-Rast' - have used Karachi as a transit route to head out to Middle East countries, the Daily Times has learnt.

When armed activists of Sindh's nationalist parties blocked roads on the Punjab-Sindh border in a bid to stop the influx of internally displaced persons - fearing that several of them could be Taliban in disguise - the Taliban's second-cadre leadership travelled to Karachi by trains and then flew to Middle Eastern states via Karachi airport.

Reliable sources told Daily Times that sleeper cells of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Karachi facilitated at least 60 leaders of the Taliban and arranged for tickets to the Middle East.

Some of those who travelled to the Middle East were close to Taliban leaders Muslim Khan and Maulana Fazlullah and were part of the TTP's decision-making processes because of their influence.

A major chunk of the population of Malakand work as labourers in the Middle East. Early in the 1990s when Sufi Muhammad organised the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), several people joined his organisation. After the 9/11 attacks, Sufi Muhammad took around 10,000 TNSM activists to fight American forces in Afghanistan.

However, after the Taliban resurgence, most of the leaders - some of whom were close aides of Sufi Muhammad - came back and joined hands with the Taliban to pursue a "pious cause", collecting funds for the TTP and fighting for the extremist group.

However, when the military launched an operation in Swat to flush out the Taliban this year, the group became disorganised, and those had arrived from the Middle East initially shifted to IDP camps in Peshawar.

Fearing they would be caught, they then travelled in small groups to Karachi by train along with their visas and other documents, said the sources, adding that they later fled to Gulf states. The Karachi wing of the TTP - an entity said to be well organised - facilitated all of them. (ANI)

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