LAHORE - Two hardcore terrorists caught from the provincial capital on the night of August 13 were identified as members of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a deadly splinter of outlawed TTP, security officials told The Nation yesterday.

However, other identification details and profiles of the two have not been disclosed by the security officials to blow other sleeper cells of this group.

The two key terrorists of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) were caught in an intelligence-led operation on the night of August 13 by a counter-terror section of the main security agency of the military from Lahore’s Barkat Town in the limits of Shahdara Town after an extensive surveillance and tail operation.

According to the security officials, the terrorist pair was a ‘master sleeper unit’ which was running other sleeper cells in Punjab to launch terror operations.

They were planning to strike high-profile targets in major towns of the province, including the provincial metropolis, on Independence Day on the pattern of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park terror activity. Members of the same gang carried out a deadly terror act in April this year in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, killing many people, including children and women.

The JuA master sleeper unit had planned to target key sensitive government buildings and high-profile figures, said the security officials, divulging more details concerning initial investigations of the busted terrorists.

Following leads of the two hardcore terrorists, the key security agency of the military has caught more suspected sleeper units from parts of Punjab, which could be used to launch a major terror operation in the province.

However, extensive interrogation sessions of new busted cells would unveil more details with regard to the nature of assistance and facilitation to be provided by these cells, they added.

Security officials declined to share any piece of information about the towns and cities from where the new sleeper cells were caught because of the upcoming follow-up operations to be launched in the light of the information divulged by these cells.

An ISPR spokesman said on the night of Independence Day, 11 suspects, including two hardcore terrorists, were caught by security forces in a three-hour-long combing operation in Barkat Town near Shahdara. Cache of arms and ammunition was also recovered from the possession of the arrested.

A threat alert of Nacta was issued on August 9 that TTP head Mullah Fazlullah had planned to attack border parade at Wagah near Lahore and Ganda Singh Border in Kasur district on August 13, 14 and 15. The TTP which is operating from Afghan soil had dispatched two suicide bombers to the two border points.

Security officials, when asked about intelligence inputs, pointing towards Fazlullah gang terrorists targeting sensitive high-profile targets, said the command and control system of the terrorists has been destroyed as a result of the operation Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber 1 and 2. They added the terrorists operating from the Afghan soil were launching joint terror operations.

Common needs and targets can bring the foes at one platform to carry on their business, said the security officials when asked Omer Khalid Khorasani leading JuA was an arch rival of TTP head Fazlullah.

In September 2014, non-Mehusd chief of TTP, Mullah Fazlullah, expelled Mohmand Agency chief of TTP, Omar Khalid Khorasani, a member of defunct Ahrar-ul-Hind.

Ahrar-ul-Hind, headed by Maulana Umar Qasmi (former leader in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi), was formed after TTP opened peace talks with the government. It later merged with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a second splinter group that broke away from TTP in September 2014 and named Omar Khalid Khorasani as its commander.

Both Qasmi and Khorasani were against the peace talks and believed the new TTP leadership under Mullah Fazlullah was not a true representative of Hakim Ullah Mehsud who was killed in a US drone strike in February 2014.

Ahrar had announced they would no longer recognise or obey Mullah Fazlullah as their ameer.