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Religious scholar gunned down in Sohrab Goth not linked to the Mumbai Attacks

Indian news media falsely claims that Mufti Qaiser Farooq, who was killed recently, is one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks

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Claim: A wanted terrorist from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Mufti Qaiser Farooq, has been gunned down by unknown men in Karachi. He was one of the founding members of LeT, and a close associate of the terrorist, Hafiz Saeed.

Fact: Mufti Qaiser Farooq was a religious scholar, gunned down by unknown men in a targeted attack in Sohrab Goth, Karachi. Farooq was a member of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) which is a registered and legal political party, under the leadership of Maulana Fazl ur Rehman. 

On 30 September and 1 October 2023, several Indian news organisations and social media users uploaded an image of a bearded man wearing a prayer cap, along with claims that he was shot in Karachi. These posts and articles claimed that this was Mufti Qaiser Farooq, who was involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in India.

2008 Mumbai Attacks

The 2008 Mumbai attacks were a series of terrorist attacks that took place on 26 November 2008, when ten members of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) stormed various locations in Mumbai, India, killing 164 people and injuring more than 300. The attackers targeted several landmarks, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, the Leopold Cafe, the Nariman House Jewish center, and the Cama Hospital. The attacks ended on 29 November, when the last remaining attacker, Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive by the National Security Guards. Kasab was later hanged in 2012 after being convicted of various charges. 

What is Lashkar e Taiba?

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is a Pakistan-based group formed in 1990 that primarily fights Indian control over Jammu and Kashmir. The group subscribes to a strict fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in South Asia. It has declared the U.S., Israel, and India as existential enemies of Islam. LeT has conducted numerous deadly attacks against Indian officials, troops, and civilians in the disputed area of Kashmir as well as throughout India and Afghanistan. The group maintains training camps, facilities, schools, and medical clinics in Pakistan. It runs its own charitable organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and has supported humanitarian relief missions in Pakistan. In 2002, Pakistan officially banned Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2008, both the U.S. and the UN placed sanctions on several senior LeT leaders.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check searched for several most-wanted lists published by Indian news media in the years following the Mumbai attacks of 2008. 

In 2011, NDTV published a list of 50 most-wanted fugitives hiding in Pakistan. If Mufti Qaiser Farooq was ever a most-wanted criminal, his name should have been on this list. Times Now News also reported ten most-wanted criminals, which included two people linked to the Mumbai Attacks, and neitherof them were named Mufti Qaiser. Similarly, this list published by OpIndia mentions 43 most-wanted criminals, according to a list released by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India, which also does not include the name Mufti Qaiser Farooq.

We also looked at news report from Pakistan, covering the issue of Mufti Qaiser Farooq’s assassination. Speaking to Dawn on the subject, Counter-Terrorism Department’s Raja Umer Khattab said that three scholars from Ahle Hadith, Deoband and Barelvi schools of thought were killed. 

According to the article, Mufti Qaiser Farooq, who was gunned down by armed pillion riders outside the Gulshan-i-Umar seminary-mosque near Edhi Centre in Sohrab Goth late on Saturday night, was a member of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The assailants fired around 8 to 9 bullets to kill Farooq. Qari Usman, the then central leader of JUI-F also told Dawn that Farooq was a supporter and a naib imam (leader of the mosque) of a mosque near Port Qasim in Karachi. However, Soch Fact Check has not independantly verified this information.

We searched Facebook for alternate mentions of Farooq’s death and found several posts lamenting the death of the “Imam of Jamia Masjid Abubakar of Port Qasim,” while social media posts by Indian users all claimed that he was one of the founding members of LeT.

Soch Fact Check also looked at Stanford University’s comprehensive documentation of religious terrorism and militant operations in Pakistan at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and found that they have only listed Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abdul Rehman Makki as the founding members of Lashkar e Taiba. We also looked at the lists published by the Sanctions department at the US Treasury and did not find any mentions of a Mufti Qaiser Farooq who had helped find Lashkar e Taiba.

Virality

We found that almost all Indian news websites had shared this claim, including but not limited to,The Times of India, Times Now, The Economic Times, and Tribune India. Some of them can be found on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here,and here.

Conclusion: Mufti Qaiser Farooq, who was reportedly recently shot to death in Sohrab Goth, was a member of the JUI-F and is not affiliated with the LeT. Moreover, his name is not mentioned on any credible lists of most-wanted terrorists by Indian news organizations or international research centres. Therefore we conclude that Farooq was not a terrorist associated with LeT, and had no involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks either. 

 

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com 

 

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