Pakistani army arrested 97 al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants, including three commanders, in the southern port city of Karachi, the military announced Friday. The army also foiled a jailbreak attempt that would have set free the killer of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief who was beheaded in 2002 in Pakistan.
The arrested men are suspected to be having been involved in attacks on two Pakistani air bases, the Karachi airport, various intelligence offices across the country and police installations between 2009 and 2015, the military said, according to Reuters. The military recovered about 9,000 weapons in different operations in Karachi, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.
The military took LeJ's Naeem Bokhari and Sabir Khan, along with Farooq Bhatti, deputy chief of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), into custody in the recent raids, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa reportedly said Friday. The LeJ and AQIS had been working "in collusion" with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Bajwa added.
Most of the arrested men, including Bokhari, had almost concluded planning the prison break attack on the Hyderabad Central Jail, Bajwa said, according to Reuters. Khalid Omar Sheikh, who abducted and decapitated journalist Pearl in Feb. 2002, is jailed at the prison, Bajwa added.