Special Forces Assemble at Lal Masjid!

7th July 1:30 AM
The problem might just have exasperated by the operation as F-7 and E-7 are rocked by gun fire, and explosions. Jamia Faridia is located in E-7. Good God… help Islamabad. What the heck!!! >:X These might be the same students that were released yesterday. I fear they have regrouped and rearmed. Damn…

7th July 1:30 AM
Earlier, Ahmed reported,

Some development as reported by www.onlinenews.com:

ISLAMABAD: Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi Friday showed willingness to hand over 3 orphans.

It has learnt that member of MMA Shah Abdul Aziz made a telephonic contact with besieged leader of Lal Masjid extremists to know about situation of teenage students, female and male, requested for their hand over, guaranteed for their proper look after but Lal Masjid mullah imparted that there were no teenagers in Mosque as propagated by government expect three, one male and two females, could be handed over on the pledge of their proper bring up.

Later on, Maulana Aziz had informed and discussed this development with officials of Interior Ministry to hatch a mechanism for the custody of these orphans.

Mega phones being used to inform the press and media men around to move back, further, from the firing zone.

7th July 1:18 AM
SHOTS FIRED! Firing from both ends in the standoff, Lal Masjid have opened fire with the Spec Ops doing the same! Heavy firing heard from the G-6 area as far as G-10. Ambulances can be heard rushing towards hospitals. The Special Forces have made a final move in as it seems. 7.7.7 in the making!?

Dear Reader, this is a LiveBlog of the Operation Lal Deen/Silence after 3:00 AM, on 4th of July, 2007. Interviews of both the brothers Rasheed and Aziz. The beautiful Islamabad. Journalists up-front in line of their duty. The down low on the nitty-gritty. The story of Maulana Aziz mian’s arrest and who got the credit. Your thoughts? How it all began, who should have died, and who actually did! This post will stick to the top till we reach a concluding point in this tragic episode unfolding in Islamabad. You can view all the new posts from our authors on Islamabad Metroblog right below this one. Your comments are invaluable source of information and discussion. Thank you very much.
-The IMB Team

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6th July 11:40 PM
Women representatives from the Parliament of Pakistan are now going inside the Lal Masjid to coax the ones inside to give up and surrender. They are accompanied by a member of the national assembly from the Muthida Majlis-e-Amal party also of the name, Maulana Aziz. Complete name, I don’t know? A clarification from D0CT0R,

Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz is an MNA from MMA not related to LAL masjid administration.

6th July 8:05 PM
Just found this video on another forum, Parents of Lal Masjid on BBC Urdu.

6th July 7:45 PM
Women representatives from the Parliament of Pakistan have requested to go in and talk to the ladies inside. The reaction to that from the masjid clergy is negative with, they are vary of the fact that, “Men dressed as women will try to infiltrate our stronghold!” …They are still thinking along those lines? Damn, man!

Meanwhile S.S.G. has been called in. The counter-terrorism wing of the Pakistan Army, very much similar to Mi5 in functioning and role.

6th July 7:30 PM
Residents of surrounding sectors heard yet again another maddening exchange of gunfire with random booms, explosions from the side of Lal Masjid. The crackdown on the Lal Masjid has now lasted for over 3 days, and it seems the forces outside are trying to push the ones inside to crack out of the compound. Around 6:30 PM and later this exchange of gunfire took place. And 2 tulbaa are said to have died, while 4 are injured.

Earlier today, at 3.30 AM, there was another similar clash between the forces who are holed up in their positions and both of them seem to be waiting for the other one to give in first. While the armed forces outside try to make head way, wall by wall.

There are constant reports of parents outside complaining that their children inside are being forced not to surrender against their wills. Pakistan Television ran a video of a man of pakhtun origin totally broken into tears for the life of his son inside. This is sad.

Mean while, Fakeera updates us on the attack on President Musharraf.

6th July 5:00 PM
Rasheed Ghazi says that 400 students have written their wills, and are placed on “Minbar” of the mosque. We’re ready for the final battle.

6th July 1:35 PM
From unconfirmed sources, Jjust learnt that a rocket almost Hit Musharaf’s copter while he was going for Flood affected areas monitoring. Rocket missed the target and Lal masjid Clerics may be related to this. (any confirmations??)

6th July 12:30 PM
1. Three hours relaxation in curfew for Jumah Prayer. Officials have announced a relaxation in the curfew for three hours starting from 12:30 pm till 3:30 pm in view of the Jumah Prayers break today amidst the Lal Masjid standoff. There are also reports of three more people who have surrendered to the authorities today.

2. Rasheed Ghazi claims more than 100 shells landed in the mosque’s compound in last one hour. Just moments ago, while talking the Geo TV, the leading cleric of Lal Masjid, Abdul Rasheed Ghazi has claimed that more than a 100 shells have landed inside the compound as a result of heavy firing and shelling by the authorities in the past hour. Rasheed Ghazi also denied reports of a rocket launcher attack on an APC of the armed forces yesterday.

He remained insistent as before on his previous conditions for giving up control of the mosque and the madrassas and laying down weapons. He further said that it is wrong of the government to assume our efforts to resolve this issue as our weakness and blamed the government for not willing to show any flexibility to end the standoff.
(Thanks to Fauzan Sohail for the updates).

6th July 10:00 AM
Still, no progress. Maualana Abdur Rashid and his associates are still not willing to lay down their arms. Heavy gun fire and even rocket attacks are going on since the previous night. Some bullets passed from over the residential area and some bullets hit a wall of Poly Clinic Hospital.


Image courtesy DT shows the seminaries being taken in blind-folded yesterday.

Geo reported firing of rockets from Lal Masjid, which caused a little damage to rangers’ AMCs. Security forces also fired dummy mortars with great sound and smoke.

Nevertheless, the lady officers who captured Aziz are being rewarded.

6th July 12:50 AM
Abdul Rasheed Ghazi is finding ways to save himself (more) and others with him. Face saving is of more importance; after yesterday’s bashing of his elder brother. Senator Tariq Azeem has assured him that he wont be asked to remove his shirt for security checking.

So now Ghazi asking for Cease fire and govt asking for cease fire … and both the parties are not ready for it.

On the other hand, heavy fire was reported few minutes back. Security forces are so close to the building itself that it would be moment’s game to turn the tables. Few students still managed to climb out.

*Confusion Confusion Everywhere* (Refer to interesting discussion on geo at the moment)

5th July 10:05 PM
Latest developments, hollow words? You decide

I am ready to surrender along with all students: Abdul Rasheed Ghazi -via The News.

The deputy head of Lal Mosque Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi has dramatically announced to surrender along with all the students including females amid the full-fledged “silence operation”, which was launched by forces at Lal mosque and Jamia Hafsa.

” I am ready to surrender along with all the students including females, we are ready to handover Lal mosque to Auqaf department and Jamia Faraidia will be handed over to the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, Mr. Ghazi said while taking to Geo News in an exclusive telephonic talk.

However, he said all the cases lodged against him were fake cases.

Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi expressed his desire that he along with his mother should be allowed to live in portion of Lal Mosque (Hujra) for few days so that they could be shifted at another place.

The government should investigate against those, whom the government seems, are involved in any suspicion activities, he said.

6th July 10:00 AM
Still, no progress. Maualana Abdur Rashid and his associates are still not willing to lay down their arms. Heavy gun fire and even rocket attacks are going on since the previous night. Some bullets passed from over the residential area and some bullets hit a wall of Poly Clinic Hospital.

Geo reported firing of rockets from Lal Masjid, which caused a little damage to rangers’ AMCs. Security forces also fired dummy mortars with great sound and smoke.

Nevertheless, the lady officers who captured Aziz are being rewarded.

5th July 9:25 PM
As the issue progressed while Ghazi rasheed’s discussion with Dr. Shahid Masood; it’s been heard that shortly a press-conference by Brig (r) Javed Iqbal Cheema is expected on this issue.

On the other hand, security forces are penetrating deep in the surroundings of Lal Masjid (from all sides). The explosions that rocked Lal Masjid few hours back has resulted in broken walls.

Discussions through various channels with Shujaat Hussain and Maulana Taqi Usmani are in process too.

5th July 8:45 PM
The Lal Masjid Radical cleric, Maulana Rasheed, clarifies stance by saying he is willing to give the land to the government, and the school and mosque to the Ministry of Religious Affairs (correct me if I am wrong) only if the government forgets about him and his acts… and lets him go free. This was in addition to what he said earlier about letting the unknown, misunderstood students at the mosque free. He also claimed that the government was propagating anti-Lal Masjid propaganda, while speaking on GEO News. Seems like the situation has forced the radical cleric to rethink his stance regarding the situation. Plus, its damn hot today in Islamabad :|

Well, as the war went on in a small part of G-6, I saw all of my office colleagues show up for work today. A few of them stayed back home who had to come via any of the blocked routes. Lets hope this stand-off ends soon.

5th July 8:19 PM
Speaking to ARYOne World on a telephone line Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi is demanding for a safe passage to exit the building/area. The non-militant students still inside the building be given guarantee of no arrest. And that he too be given a safe passage out of there unconditionally. The Armed Forces and the government however have no plans of creating a line of dialog or start negotiations with the ones inside. If they surrender, or come out peacefully they will not be shot at, but indeed taken into custody. This is what the situation is atm. I personally feel the Maulana should surrender himself, and save himself and his family the torture and suffering along with embarrassment and humiliation of this entire episode.

Maulana is in the company of his wife, daughter and his aged mother along with 50 to 100 Taleban. BTW Taleban is a plural of Talib, meaning pupil, so I am not politically stereotyping the ones inside here.

5th July 8:12 PM
I don’t know why, but I sought out the lyrics to A Perfect Circle’s perfect song for the moment, ‘Annihilation.’ While the last few lyrics are entirely paradoxical for the situation Islamabadis are in, but they are all the more powerful.

Power is power, the law of the land,
Those living for death will die by their own hand,
Life’s no ordeal if you come to terms,
Reject the system dictating the norms

From dehumanization to arms production,
To hasten this nation towards its destruction,
It’s your choice, your choice, your choice, your choice,
Peace or annihilation

Bleh! :( Such a sucky day for the entire nation. Posting updates as they come…

5th July 7:42 PM
I really dont think weapons inside would be as lethal as those outside… but still.

TOTAL 19 KILLED TILL NOW. The militants, holed in the premises of Lal mosque and Jamia Hafsa, are in possession of hand-grenades, petrol bombs and other lethal weapons, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said.

No Extremism

********

4th July 2:23 AM
Dawn Television reports that the 111 Brigade from the RWP Corps has assembled at the Lal Masjid and there is a high probability of an assault. The area is cordoned off completely, and there is a curfew. EVERYONE IS ADVISED TO AVOID THE AREA AS SPECIAL FORCES AND OTHER SECURITY PERSONNEL HAVE BEEN TOLD TO EXERCISE MINIMUM RESTRAINT, ZERO TOLERANCE AND ‘SHOOT ON SIGHT’!

4th July 2:40 AM
The government sources have confirmed a GO AHEAD with the operation on Lal Masjid. The President has approved action on them. ENTIRE G-6 IS CORDONED OFF EXCEPT EMBASSY ROAD – STAY PUT, STAY SAFE. The students have been told to surrender and come out with arms in the air without the weapons. Paramilitary, Special Ops, and other law enforcement forces have taken up positions around the Lal Masjid. The entire area has been blacked out and there is utter silence all around.

4th July 3:00 AM by A For [Pine]Apple
Time till 3:30 given for further ACTION.

Almost half an hour to go (time of IMB is One hour ahead than local PST, BTW).

4th July 3:10 AM
SHOTS FIRED!

4th July 3:14 AM
Sporadic fire from both sides. Ambulances, fire brigades, Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and sand bags in position!

4th July 3:23 AM
Heavy casualties expected. Ambulances reportedly fully stocked with first aid and other life saving medical equipment.

4th July 3:35 AM
Helicopters can be heard in Islamabad’s air. Tanks moving around the Blue Area road.
And lal masjid’s site is no longer blocked ( they’ve got new web designers :-))

4th July 3:48 AM
The vehicles shown in various footages on TV are not of Tanks, but are Armoured Personnel Carriers (Troop carriers). War Hymns were heard blown from Lal Masjid few minutes back, before Azaan e Fajr.

4th July 12:21 PM by Fauzan Sohail
Almost 100 male students and 6 more female students have exited the compounds of Lal Masjid moments ago after Lal Masjid reps announced that all who wanted to leave can leave the mosque. Moments after they came out, sporadic firing started from unknown sources thus dispersing this group in random directions.

4th July 12:53 PM by Fauzan Sohail
DEADLINE to SURRENDER has been extended till 12 noon today and a continuous stream of male and female students are coming out of the mosque towards the securities. Bear in mind that all of these are innocent students who have been at the Lal Masjid for religious studies and are coming out because of a leniency being provided by the govt on the request of the relatives of these students who have come over to Islamabad from all across the country

TWO SUICIDE BOMBINGS have taken place since this morning. One in Bannu district that has killed one person and injured many. Another suicide bomb has ended in martyrdom of 4 army soldiers at 10:30 am. The attack happened at 10:30 am today on the convoy that had 6 armed forces people. 4 died on the spot and two are critically wounded.

4th July 12:59 PM by Fauzan Sohail
Students coming out of the Lal Masjid have told reporters that: ‘It is not that easy to come out of Lal Masjid as it might seem to those outside.’ When asked to elaborate on this statement, all of them refrained from further comments stating that: ‘What we might say right now might not be good for us in the future.’

4th July 5:42 PM
Activity near the Lal Masjid intensifies as gun shots from automatic rifles are heard. Tracked vehicles can be heard. Gun smoke can be smelt several meters away from the site of action. The loudspeaker has gone mute, that was chanting Allah-o-Akbar. After the willing students left, the ones left inside seem to be ready for death or victory.

4th July 5:55 PM
Deadlines to surrender are having no effect on the ones inside, they are not budging. Neither will the ones outside. I think this will be one long journey to the finish line. The Government WILL SOLVE the problem, says press release. Kashmir Highway, connecting Grand Trunk Road and Muree has been barricaded.

4th July 6:15 PM
Atleast 4 Choppers sighted circling over the Lal Masjid! The Nai’b Khateeb Mr. Ghazi has not backed down from his stance to accept Shahadat and accepted his fate in a talk with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman. The type of the choppers is still unknown… whether they are assault aircraft or transport aircraft, that might lead to suggest the intensity with which the operation might be undertaken.

4th July 6:23 PM
AH-1 Cobras flying at tree top height.

4th July 6:45 PM
All Hospitals on Stand-by, doctors, nurses, surgeons summoned to expect high number of trauma and emergency cases. Assault Helicopters are able to take down targets from afar, and are built for urban warfare, armed with a gattling gun on the nose and Hellfires/Air To Ground Missiles on the wings made to take down tanks, bunkers and structures.

4th July 7:00 PM
Last update. Will start updating after this ends. Hope it ends in a bloodless confrontation and quick. Pray for the dead, pray for the mad, pray for your and mine safety. Allah Hafiz for now.

4th July 8:10 PM
MAULANA ABDUL AZIZ ARRESTED WHILE FLEEING WITH THE WOMEN IN A BURQA. So much so for Jihadi spirit! Confirmations still coming in. Initial reports by PTV and DAWN TV.

4th July 11:30PM
Latest update: More students are coming out and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, who is in meeting with ullema inside, is now quite ready to surrender themselves and the Children’s Library. The information is not officially confirmed thugh. But with maulana Abdul Aziz arrested; chances are the operation Lal Masjid will end very soon now.

This can be considered end to Lal Mosque Saga … hopefully!

5th July 13:00 PM
After passing of the deadline (12:30 PM) given to the Lal Masjid administration for surrender, firing started in the mosque area. The administration had given 12:30 deadline to the students entrenched in the mosque. They were advised to leave the mosque immediately otherwise they would themselves be responsible for any harm. The ministry of interior has announced curfew break from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm in G-6 of Islamabad, however the break has not be given in the Lal Masjid area. (Courtesy Geo News).

5th July 4:00 PM
Full-fledged commando operation has been launched at Lal mosque. Intense cross firing between the Law Enforcing agencies and students of Lal mosque has been started and the explosions have rocked the Islamabad. The commandos and the Rangers have also taken control of the office of Environment ministry beside the Lal mosque. (-Courtesy Geo News)

Um e hasaan said to be inside Lal masjid and not captured. For Breaking News, listen to this 1.5 minute audio stream. More details in this 14-minute audio stream. See Video (13:00 PM) on BBC and Geo (12:00 Pm) bulletin.

5th July 6:00 PM
Heavy gunfire exchange deafens the G-6 Sector, reports! A gun manned by an army soldier atop an APC.

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AH-1 Cobra of the Pakistan Army Aviation wing:
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Another APC under a camouflage net:
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Troops lined up:
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Courtesy Getty Images

5th July 6:15 PM
Operation codenamed: “Silence Operation”

The News:

A full-fledged commando operation has been launched at Lal mosque, the sources said.

Intense cross firing between the Law Enforcing agencies and students of Lal mosque has been started and the explosions have rocked the Islamabad.

The commando operation has been codenamed as “Silence Operation.”

I wonder if they are attacking with silence or they are trying to silence?

5th July 7:25 PM
Gunshots can still be heard in an around the Lal Masjid vicinity where the operation is taking place. The entire area has been evacuated long before anything could start. There is report that there are still a few hundred students and Majid officials camping inside. Maulana Rasheed’s sister tells about her brothers unwillingness to surrender. I personally see this thing going down to the wire where Maulana sahib will call truce. Hopefull.

Earlier, there was an explosion in the same area, and it cannot be confirmed that what that was. Some suspect it to be some noxious gas to suffocate them out of the building. Some say the smoke billowing out of the building is that of fire from a shell/missile fired into the compound.

Maulana sahib seeks comfort in the company of bewildered children, and confused youth inside the compound.

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Here is a photo of the older brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was caught with the burqa, taken from the BBC News Online slide show on the event.

202 Comments so far

  1. Lahore (unregistered) on July 14th, 2007 @ 3:25 am

    One can say Maulvi Ghazi Murda baad. The Running Mullah. But thats not it. You know, I know and everyone else as well.

    So be logical. And I say a please with it!


  2. Tariq (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

    Essence of mil strategy is to understand the degree of evil, it is better to commit a lesser evil than bigger evil.By killing the terrorist Govt has commited a lessor evil.Allowing a save passage would have been a bigger evil.



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