ISLAMABAD: The conviction of Brigadier Ali Khan and four other army officers for their links with Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) was the third attempt of the banned organisation to penetrate into the military in the past 10 years.
On August 3, a military court convicted Brigadier Ali Khan, Major Sohail Akbar, Major Jawad Baseer, Major Inayat Aziz and Major Iftikhar for having links with HuT and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for terms ranging from 5 years to 18 months.
Back in 2003, HuT established links with about 13 commandos of the army’s Special Services Group (SSG), in 2009 officers up to the ranks of lieutenant colonel faced court martial for links with HuT and in 2011 a brigadier faced the same charges.Interestingly, in two of these incidents the same HuT members approached the army officers in 2009 and 2011. Although the army authorities have started court martial proceedings against the officers, it appears no action has been taken against them.
According to the documents available with Dawn, HuT activists Abdul Qadir and Ahmed, a doctor, were found to have links with Lt-Col Shahid Bashir in 2009 and Brig Ali Khan in 2011.
Both reports referred to the same activists to establish the case against the officers.
The documents revealed that both activists of the banned outfit had used the same techniques for establishing links with Lt-Col Bashir and Brig Ali Khan as they developed relations with the officers through common friends and then used the two officers to approach other army officers.
According to an investigation report prepared by Major Kashif Saleem of Special Investigation Branch (SIB), Brig Khan, with the help of the four military offices, was planning to target the civilian and military leadership in an air attack to clear the way for establishing the Caliphate governance system in Pakistan.
The report said that Abdul Qadir, Ahmed and Rizwan of Hut met Brig Khan and persuaded him to hatch this conspiracy.
Brig Khan then tried to cultivate other army officers - Brig Naeem Sadiq, Brig Mohammad Amin and Brig Aamer Riaz for the cause.
The inquiry report against Lt-Col Shahid Bashir revealed that Abdul Qadir and Dr Ahmed (the report clarified that his exact name was not known) were also behind the court martial of Col Bashir and a lieutenant colonel.
Col Bashir was charged with acquiring classified information regarding the locations of operational bases for the United States (from which drones operated) inside Pakistan, finding out about the operation in the Malakand division and about the deployment of troops to different operational areas.
He was also charged with persuading nine army officers, including Lt-Col Habibullah, to join his efforts.
Lt-Col Khalid Jamil, Lt-Col Syed Zarar, Lt-Col Mohammad Sanaullah, Major Tariq Saleem, Major Faisal Obaid and Major Ali Akram. Brig (retd) Wasaf Khan Niazi, who was serving in army’s legal wing as judge advocate general in 2009, said that he first heard the names of HuT activists Abdul Qadir and Dr Ahmed during the court martial proceedings of Lt-Col Bashir.
“After my retirement from army, when Brig Ali and four Majors after their detention engaged me as defence counsel in the proceedings of Field General Court Martial (FGCM), I was surprised to notice that the same activists were behind the episode of Brig Khan.”
He said: “I submitted an application before the presiding officer of military court and requested him to arrest these persons because these men were damaging the army and had polluted its officers.”
The authorities, however, did not accept my request, he added.
A retired officer of JAG branch told Dawn that in 2003 HuT attempted to penetrate into army and successfully cultivated 13 SSG commandos into its net.
“HuT was not a banned outfit at that time, but when the army authorities came to know about its efforts then president and military chief Gen Pervez Musharraf declared it a proscribed organisation in November 2003.”
At that time, the army did not commence court martial proceedings against the SSG commandos and instead dealt with them administratively. Their services were terminated, he added.
According to him, the investigators failed to bring the HuT activists to book.
Soon after the arrest of Brig Ali Khan in July last year, the Inter Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence allegedly picked some hardcore HuT activists from across the country.
The activists – Imran Yousafzai, Hayan Dawar Khan, Osama Hanif, Dr Abdul Qayyum and Dr Abdul Wahid and Dr Abdul Wajid – remained missing for some time and their relatives during July and August last year filed habeas corpus petitions in the Islamabad High Court for their recovery.