Qari Saifullah Akhtar

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Qari Saifullah Akhtar (Urdu: قاری سیف اللہ اختر‎) was an alleged member of Al-Qaeda who was in Pakistani custody. Akhtar, a graduate of Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamia in Karachi,[1] had been the leader of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), a jihadi organization. When HUJI merged with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) around 1990 to form Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA), Akhtar acted as deputy to former HUM leader and then amir Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil. HUA dissolved back into two separate groups in 1997, allowing Akhtar to become amir of HUJI.[2] Since 1998 when Osama bin Laden released a fatwa under the banner World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, segments of HUJI have joined al-Qaeda. It has been reported[according to whom?] that Akhtar was running a training camp at Rishkhor, Afghanistan before the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and had trained 3,500 persons in conventional and unconventional combat. He disappeared from Afghanistan but was apprehended in August 2004 in the United Arab Emirates. He was then handed over to Pakistan.[3]

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Akhtar's brother-in-law, Abdur Rehman Mahmood, on October 12, 2004, challenging Akhtar's arrest and seeking his appearance before the court. The petitioner also sought a court order to prevent possible deportation of Akhtar to another country.[4] The petition was thrown out on January 18, 2005. The petitioner was instructed to move the High Court by filing a habeas corpus writ petition. "You first invoke the jurisdiction of a high court and if it gets dismissed there only then you come to the top court," said Justice Falak Sher. "We can’t entertain a direct writ petition at this stage."[5] However, the bench, consisting of Javed Iqbal and Mian Shakirullah Jan, ordered the government to submit comprehensive replies in the cases of several people, including that of Akhtar, who had been arrested on suspicion of terrorism.[6]

On May 21, 2007, Akhtar reached his hometown of Mandi Bahauddin, after reportedly being released by an intelligence agency earlier that morning. The Daily Times reported, "He was thrown out of a car in a deserted area near Chakwal."[7]

According to the Dawn newspaper, Akhtar was arrested in Lahore on February 26, 2008 for his alleged involvement in the attempted assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on October 18, 2007. "He is involved in the blasts in Karsaz. Therefore he has been arrested," Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz told The Associated Press, referring to the area in Karachi where the bombing happened. Mr. Nawaz added that three other men, identified by Akhtar as his sons, were also arrested.[8]

Akhtar was ordered freed from custody March 26, 2008 for lack of evidence.[9] That September he was suspected to be involved in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing.[10]

Akhtar was re-arrested in August 2010 after he was injured in a drone strike but was re-released four months later.[11]

Akhtar was killed in a special operation in Afghanistan in January 2017.[12]


  1. ^ "The Growth of the Deobandi Jihad in Afghanistan". Jamestown Foundation. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Why Amjad Farooqi had to die, Asia Times, September 20, 2004 Archived December 15, 2010, at WebCite
  3. ^ Al Qaeda Suspected Nabbed, CBS News, August 08, 2004
  4. ^ Qari Saif’s detention challenged in SC Archived May 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times, October 14, 2004
  5. ^ Petition against Qari Saif’s arrest dismissed Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times, January 22, 2005
  6. ^ Supreme Court to prepare policy for intelligence agencies’ control Archived March 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times, April 28, 2007
  7. ^ Harkat chief reaches home Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Daily Times, May 22, 2007
  8. ^ Suspect in Oct 18 bombing arrested, Dawn, February 27, 2008
  9. ^ Bhutto bomb suspect freed, CNN, March 26, 2008 Archived March 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Roggio, Bill (2008-09-25). "Al Qaeda-linked suspects emerge in Islamabad Marriott attacks". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  11. ^ "Karsaz attack suspect resurfaces in Punjab". 
  12. ^ "Afghan intelligence confirms top al Qaeda leader killed in raid - FDD's Long War Journal". 

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