Freed militant commander wanted to target Pak nukes

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Lahore, Dec 30 (ANI): Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the al-Qaeda-linked ameer of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), has been freed by Pakistan's Punjab government under mysterious circumstances despite the fact that he is still wanted in several high-profile cases of terrorism, including conspiracy to target Pakistan nukes.

Saifullah's most significant target was to blow up the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant at Kundian by using a group of five Americans, whom he encouraged to travel to Pakistan all the way from the United States "to wage jehad against those siding with the forces of infidel", The News reports.

All the five US nationals- Waqar Hussain Khan, Ahmed Minni, Ramy Zamzam, Aman Yemer and Umar Farooq- were subsequently charged with five counts of conspiracy to target Pakistani nuclear installations in Chashma, attacking Pakistan Air Force bases in Sargodha and Mianwali, raising funds to carry out terrorist activities, waging war against Pakistan and planning to wage war against a friendly country.

On June 24, 2010, Judge Mian Anwar Nazir found them guilty and sentenced them to ten years' imprisonment and fines of 823 dollars each for conspiring against the state, and an additional five years for financing a militant organisation.

Interestingly, the day the five Americans were convicted, their militant handler, Saifullah, was declared an absconder despite the fact that he had already been arrested from Rawalpindi by that time and was in the custody of the Pakistani security agencies.

Saifullah had to abandon Waziristan after he was wounded in a US drone attack. He subsequently travelled to Peshawar and then to Rawalpindi for treatment before being arrested and taken to Lahore, only to be placed under house arrest in Chishtian tehsil of Punjab in August 2010, before being released in the first week of December.

However, it is not for the first time that Saifullah, believed to be a tool of the intelligence establishment, has eluded prosecution.

Though his role in the Karachi suicide attack targeting the welcome procession of Benazir Bhutto could not be explored further due to an apparent lack of interest by the agencies, his previous involvement in a failed coup plot in 1995 had projected him as one of the deadliest militants, who, from the establishment's viewpoint, had gone astray. (ANI)

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