February 23, 2009
ISLAMABAD: The authorities have busted a clandestine terror network set up by jailed killer of Daniel Pearl inside the Hyderabad Jail and the Sindh government has suspended senior police and jail officials after a large number of cell phones, SIMs and other equipment were recovered.
Highly-placed Interior Ministry sources confided to English daily the jailed terrorist had also threatened Gen Pervez Musharraf on his personal cell phone in the second week of November and planned to get him eliminated by a suicide bomber.
The caller reportedly told the former president: “I am after you, get ready to die.” Subsequent investigations by the authorities revealed the threatening phone call was made by someone from the Hyderabad Central Jail. Being a suspect, Sheikh Omar was placed under observation before it transpired that he was the one who had threatened General Pervez Musharraf.
The authorities came to know that a plot had been hatched by Sheikh Omar to eliminate the then-president with the connivance of some Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants, with whom he had long been in touch over the phone.
As Omar’s death cell was thoroughly searched, three mobile phones, six batteries, 18 SIMS of almost every cellular company and chargers were seized from his possession.
Further scanning of the alleged terror mastermind’s telephone records revealed he had been making calls all over Pakistan to former Jihadi associates as well as relatives in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
The LeJ militants had thus been monitoring Musharraf’s movements to target him while travelling between his Army House residence in Rawalpindi and his Chak Shehzad farmhouse on the 1-A Park Road on the quiet suburbs of Islamabad or to blow up the bridge on Shara-e-Faisal during his next visit to Karachi at the precise moment when his convoy would reach there from the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport.
It was after the unearthing of the assassination plot that Musharraf decided to leave for London on Nov 22, 2008 for a short trip — for the first time since his resignation as president in August 2008. Although, he has already returned home, Musharraf is still occupying the Army House due to grave security concerns.
Following the recovery of mobile phones and SIMs from Sheikh Omar, the Sindh Home Department took serious action and suspended (on Dec 1, 2008) Hyderabad Central Jail Superintendent Abdul Majid Siddiqui, his deputy Gul Mohammad Sheikh and four other jail officials on charges of showing criminal negligence.
According to the Sindh inspector general prisons, both had been suspended by the Home Department on complaints of corruption and maladministration.