Al Qaeda Raid Foiled After Firefight Involving Rogue Naval Officers
KARACHI, Pakistan—Al Qaeda militants tried to hijack a Pakistan Navy frigate earlier this month and use it to target U.S. Navy vessels on antiterrorism patrol in the northwestern Indian Ocean, Pakistani security officials said.
The Sept. 6 raid, which was foiled after a fire fight and a suicide bombing, was carried out in part by Pakistan Navy personnel who had been recruited by al Qaeda, these officials said. The raid, in which 10 militants and one petty officer died, raised fears about terrorist infiltration of the nuclear-armed nation’s military forces.
“Without assistance from inside, these people could not have breached security,” Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said about the incident at a recent parliament session.
The Karachi raid was the first major operation carried out by al Qaeda’s newly formed regional wing, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, according to counterterrorism officials. The timing of the raid may have been set to mark the start of the affiliate or to coincide roughly with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Western security officials believe.
News of the attempted seizure of the frigate, PNS Zulfiqar, was initially kept from the media, and the details of the incident are only beginning to emerge.