Pakistan probes ‘USD 100 ID cards for militants’ scam

Karachi: Pakistani authorities are investigating officials at the national identity database for allegedly issuing ID cards to militants, including some linked to Al-Qaeda, in return for bribes as small as USD 100. The country’s main spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) uncovered the alleged corrupt practices at the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) during ongoing anti-terrorism operations, according to official documents.

“It has been found that many NADRA officials are involved in facilitating miscreants and terrorists in obtaining fake identity,” said ISI correspondence seen by AFP. Adnan El Shukrijumah, a senior Al-Qaeda leader wanted by the US over a 2009 plot to attack the New York subway system, was among those who obtained a Pakistani ID card by bribing officials, the documents said.

Shukrijumah, who was born in Saudi Arabia and spent some years in the United States, was killed in December 2014 during a Pakistan army operation in South Waziristan tribal area close to Afghanistan.

The ISI investigation also found that three Uzbek nationals who were arrested in Qatar for robbing a bank also carried Pakistani identity papers. Several dozen Chinese nationals and Maldivians were also issued Pakistani ID cards, with NADRA officials taking bribes of 10,000 to 20,000 rupees (USD 100-200) in return. The intelligence probe has named about 40 NADRA officials involved in issuing the fake paperwork in Karachi, including a retired army brigadier and a retired colonel. In its own investigation into the racket, the Federal Investigation Agency found more than 50,000 national identity cards had been issued to illegal immigrants, most of them Afghans.

Last year Pakistan launched a major crackdown on militants after suffering more than a decade of bomb and gun attacks by homegrown Islamist extremists. A military offensive against Taliban and Al-Qaeda hideouts in the northwest has been accompanied by what the authorities have called “intelligence-led” operations in cities around the country.

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