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Police: Pakistani Taliban leader seized in Karachi

By Tim Lister, CNN
January 5, 2012 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police say an anonymous tip led them to Abdul Qayyum Mehsud and three other men
  • Weapons, explosive devices and ammunition were recovered in a series of raids, police said
  • Mehsud is accused of involvement in attacks on Pakistani security forces
  • Karachi has become a fund-raising and logistical base for several militant groups

(CNN) -- Police in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, said Thursday they have arrested a senior figure in the Pakistani Taliban and several other alleged terrorists.

A police statement said Abdul Qayyum Mehsud and three other men were detained after police received an anonymous tip.

In a series of raids, police also recovered a stockpile of weapons, explosive devices and ammunition, as well as suicide jackets.

Police allege that Mehsud was formerly a bodyguard to the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone strike in August 2009.

Abdul Qayyum Mehsud is accused of involvement in Pakistani Taliban operations against security forces in northwest Pakistan.

The four suspected terrorists were allegedly involved in planning and executing suicide bombings, kidnappings and terrorist attacks in Karachi, which has become a fund-raising and logistical base for several militant groups.

Karachi also has nearly 2,000 religious seminaries, some of which have become recruiting and organizing centers for militant groups.

Last month an American citizen, Abd al-Moeed bin Abd al-Salam, who had been a prominent figure in the Global Islamic Media Front, a group that promotes jihadist activities online, was shot dead in a police operation in Karachi.

Local media reported on December 31 the arrest of four members of a different faction of the Pakistan Taliban in Karachi, along with nearly 150 kilograms (331 pounds) of explosives and weapons.

Rivalries between different militant groups and political factions are played out in the streets of the city, with almost daily shootings -- frequently carried out by militants on motorbikes.

Observers say the Pakistani Taliban may be more vulnerable now that its many factions appear to be at loggerheads -- because of personal rivalries, dissent over the killing of civilians and relationships with other jihadist groups such as al Qaeda.

Earlier this week, the creation of a council of elders was announced to try to reconcile different groups and co-ordinate their actions.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Insanullah Ihsan, told CNN that the council's creation was encouraged by the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who urged groups based in Pakistan to join the battle against the U.S.-led alliance from across the border.

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