The al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has claimed that its primary motive in the September Karachi dockyard attack, which failed after gunfights with the Pakistan Naval forces, was destroying Indian warships with a Pakistani frigate - PNS Aslat.
The frigate was equipped with advanced weapon systems, including anti-submarine torpedoes, four guided missiles with a range of up to 120 km, surface-to-air missiles and 72 mm anti-aircraft guns.
“This was not an attack on the naval dockyard... It was a takeover of ships of the Pakistani naval fleet. And the targets were the American and the Indian Navies,” said a release by As-Sahab Subcontinent, purportedly the AQIS’ media wing.
The release said the elaborate plan involved two simultaneous attacks by two groups. The first group was to take over the Pakistani frigate PNS Zulfiqar and use it to target and destroy the American oil tanker USS Supply.
The second group’s plan was to take over PNS Aslat that was docked near the Karachi shores and “steer it towards Indian waters in order to attack Indian warships with anti-ship missiles.”
Issuing a call for the Mujahideen to make seas one of their priority areas, the release warned: “This operation gives a clear message to India that Ghazwa-e-Hind has only just begun. We shall never forget your oppression of our brothers in Kashmir, Gujarat, and Assam.”
A successful attack would have immediately drawn a parallel to the October 2000 al Qaeda attack on US destroyer USS Cole in Aden, in which 17 US sailors died.
While the attack has set off warning bells about the extent of penetration by terror elements into Pakistan’s armed forces, the release claimed that the operation was led by Oweis Jakhrani (former second lieutenant in the Pakistan navy) and Zeeshan Rafeeq (second lieutenant).