Three detained for running banned outfits’ web pages

News Source: Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday arrested three ‘activists’ of banned outfits for allegedly operating web pages of their respective organisations on social media, Dawn has learnt.

According to FIA officials, the arrested people are members of a network operating the web pages of the banned outfits for the last couple of years and are affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehreek-i-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP). They have been booked in three separate cases under various sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorism Act.

Two of the arrested men affiliated with the TJP are residents of Rawalpindi and Taxila, while the third belonging to LeJ lives in Islamabad.

The arrests came as a result of an inquiry initiated by the FIA’s Counter Terrorism Wing in June last year after cyber activities of the banned outfits were spotted on social media. The FIA officials said internet protocol (IP) addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses attached with social media pages and used while operating the pages had been put under surveillance.

They said the investigators during the inquiry also got assistance from the administrators of social media websites, including Facebook. Moreover, they added, investigation agencies of a few other countries were also approached for assistance.

As a result of more than one year’s surveillance on their e-activities and inquiry, the officials said, the FIA identified these three persons who were operating the banned outfits’ pages on social media, claiming that the agency had sufficient evidence against them for their involvement in such activities. They said efforts were under way to trace their other accomplices.

The accused were operating the pages of the proscribed organisations through their Facebook accounts, the FIA officials said, adding that they were found involved in “disseminating, glorifying and advancing the objectives of the proscribed organisations”.

They said the FIA had launched further investigations to identify and determine the role of the persons who had provided internet connection and other technical assistance to the accused. The cases have been registered against them under sections 9, 10-A and ATA 9, 11F and 11W of PECA.

Section 10 of PECA has also been included in the case registered against the accused affiliated with LeJ.

A senior FIA official told Dawn that there were 75 banned outfits in the country and 36 of them were active on social media as their activists were operating the pages. The arrested persons, he said, were spreading ideology of their banned outfits through social media and hatred against other sects.

The official claimed that the three accused were also registering members, supporters and activists through social media pages, adding that the status of the followers of these pages was also being verified and action against them would be taken, if required.

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