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Pakistan arrests Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade militants

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For representational purpose

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Iran-backed militant group Zainabiyoun Brigade, which has been making inroads into Pakistan through the Pakistan-Iran border, has started to show its footprints in the country.

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Karachi: Iran-backed militant group Zainabiyoun Brigade, which has been making inroads into Pakistan through the Pakistan-Iran border, has started to show its footprints in the country.

In a recent event, Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has arrested two militants of the Zainabioyoun Brigade militant group, who the authorities say were nabbed in connection with a string of killings in the six years up to 2013.

CTD chief Omar Shahid confirmed that both the militants had received training in Iran. He also confirmed that the arrests were made in December last year from Karachi after the department received intelligence inputs about the whereabouts of the militants.

This is the second big catch of Zainabiyoun Brigade militants in Pakistan after the country's law enforcement agencies intensified their crackdown against Shia militant groups, which have been involved in spreading sectarian violence in Pakistan besides sending the youth to fight abroad.

"The arrests followed police and intelligence agencies' investigations into the killing of a cleric, Maulana Adil Khan, in Karachi two months ago," said Shahid said.

The CTD confirmed that two militants "associated with the Agha Hasan group of Sipah-e-Muhammad's Zainabiyoun Brigade had been arrested from Karachi's Orangi neighborhood".

Further investigations into the case revealed that the group was involved in the killing of two high profile clerics in Karachi.

In February 2020, the CTD had arrested two Zainabiyoun Brigade terror suspects during an intelligence-based operation near Siemens Chowrangi in Karachi.

One of the arrested suspects, Syed Kamran Haider Zaidi, was associated with the Zainabiyoun Brigade and was actively working in sending Pakistanis to fight in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

It was revealed that Zaidi had fought alongside al-Assad's forcer before returning to Pakistan. Both militants admitted to have received training in Parachinar and Kurram tribal districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province and had been involved in sectarian killings in Karachi.

It is pertinent to mention that pro-Shia militant groups operating in Pakistan have been transporting militants into Syria. A recent report had stated that Pakistanis were among at least 19 pro-Iran militia fighters killed in eastern Syria.

The Zainabiyoun Brigade had been recruiting hundreds of fighters from Pakistan in the past, a concern of which was shared by the Pakistani intelligence agencies over Shia pilgrims falling victim to Iranian influence and recruitment into Tehran-backed mercenary groups fighting in Iraq and Syria.

The Zainabiyoun Brigade was put on US Treasury's financial blacklist in January 2019.

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