Software Expert Helps Karachi Police Investigate Terror

Simulation software developed by Fulbright scholar Zeeshan Usmani is helping investigators analyze bombings and pursue perpetrators of terror in Pakistan. Usmani is the product of currently the world's biggest Fulbright program being offered in Pakistan, with approximately 200 scholarships for advanced degrees in 2011 alone.

Usmani collaborated with Daniel Kirk at Florida Institute of Technology to develop Usmani-Kirk model for analyzing suicide bomb blasts. The model uses various inputs like before-and-after video footage, bombing debris, chemical residues, victims' injuries, casualty patterns, autopsy data and other available clues about suspects and forensic data to piece together the details of each incident and to help identify the cause and the perpetrators.



Upon returning to Pakistan with a doctoral degree, Usmani was introduced by a business executive Adnan Asdar to Karachi's senior police officials who were investigating the Ashura bombing of 28 December, 2009. The police immediately asked him to help.

Before Usmani showed up at the scene, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rahman Malik had already told the media that it was a suicide bombing orchestrated by the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and the TTP had accepted responsibility for the "suicide bombing". Usmani took one look at the scene near the banyan tree at the Lighthouse Center and concluded that the casualty pattern did not support Malik's conclusion. Usmani's assertion gained support when Faisal Edhi, son of Abdus Sattar Edhi of Edhi Foundation, and later FIA investigators noticed a large quantity of heavy steel nuts strewn at the scene, according to Steve Inskeep who has described the incident in his recent book about Karachi titled "The Instant City". The steel nuts were too heavy to have been carried by suicide bombers who typically use ball bearings as shrapnel in their explosive vests to inflict maximum casualties. Other metal fragments found at the scene were understood to have come from a metal box that could be seen next to an Edhi ambulance before the blast but not in the post-blast video footage. This metal box apparently contained the explosives and the steel nuts. A body believed by the police to be of the suicide bomber was later confirmed as the body of a boy scout killed in the blast.



Usmani's analysis and detailed presentation persuaded the investigators that it was a remote controlled bomb rather than a suicide bomber that did the damage, and it was most likely perpetrated by a local sectarian outfit, not the TTP who target the security forces rather than ordinary citizens.

Faced with the ruthless and resourceful enemies of the state, Pakistani law-enforcement is in serious need of good intelligence work and competent professional investigators equipped with modern tools and capabilities to bring a semblance of peace and security in Pakistan. What Usmani is doing needs to be developed and replicated across the country. I hope Pakistani state will identify and make full use of all available talent in this area of expertise.

Here's a video of Usmani's presentation at TEDx Lahore:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

CSI Pakistan

Pakistan Needs Police Reform

Pakistanis Studying Abroad

Sialkot Lynching

Intelligence Failures Amidst Daily Carnage

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices

Scholarships at Foreign Universities

Institute of International Education--Open Doors

UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency Report

Austrade on Education in Pakistan

Views: 829

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 27, 2011 at 8:20am

Here's a report on how Pakistan can learn lessons from policing in Norther Ireland:

Lessons from the reorganisation of policing in Northern Ireland could influence efforts to reform law and order in Pakistan, a human rights expert has said.

The sprawling south Asian country normally hits the headlines for violence related to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But it is also struggling against internal unrest, while policing legislation in some regions dates back to colonial powers introduced in the 1800s.

Aideen Gilmore, who has monitored the reform of the justice system in Northern Ireland, was asked to join experts in Islamabad for discussions on the theme of "Policing in Conflict", co-hosted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, plus local human rights and lobby groups.

"The organisers were interested in hearing about the Northern Ireland experience of policing in conflict and particularly the process of police reform and how policing can be made more human rights compliant," she said.

"Generally, there was interest in how to move from a seemingly intractable conflict to one where the idea of change that is based on human rights and the rule of law becomes a possibility, and from there to the implementation of that change and the challenges that brings.

"Because of the problems with oversight and accountability of policing, participants were particularly interested in the models that we have developed and what is needed to make them effective, for example, the importance of a strong, effective and independent police complaints body."

The human rights expert came to prominence with the Belfast-based Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and is on a career break as its deputy director to take part in a range of human rights consultancy work at home and abroad. The event in Pakistan also included human rights groups from the country, as well as retired police officers and government representatives.

"What was really striking was the level of internal conflict in the country - so much of the internationally reported news focuses on the international dimension, and particularly in relation to Afghanistan, problems in the border regions and relationships with the US, with little reporting on the impact on the people living in the country, where suicide bombings and attacks on the government and administration by the TTP (the Pakistan Taliban group) have claimed many lives and created a volatile and unsafe environment.

"So the challenge is protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law, and the role of the police in doing this, in a situation of conflict - something which Northern Ireland can offer much to learn from."

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hdwOWUd6IPHn...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 19, 2012 at 7:49am

Here's BR on Australian forensic training for Pak law enforcement:

The Australian Government has introduced a new policy initiative to enhance its law enforcement engagement with Pakistan. a statement by Australian High Commission said on Friday.

A major component of this initiative belongs to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and its focus is on forensic capacity development across both federal and regional Pakistan.

The AFP Pakistan Forensic Capacity Building Project was developed as a result of this initiative. To date, the Project has successfully delivered nine forensic training courses in Canberra with a total of 88 participants from various Pakistani regions and relevant agencies.

The Australian High Commission and the AFP are very pleased to have achieved a significant milestone by successfully running the Project's first training course in Pakistan: Laboratory Management and Quality Systems which ran from 8 to 17 October 2012 at the Punjab Forensic Science Agency and included 21 participants from a range of areas and agencies within Pakistan.

Dr. James Robertson from the National Centre of Forensic Studies in Australia who was the key lecturer during this course said: "It has provided an excellent opportunity to reach a broader group of participants and also to enhance our own understanding of current forensic structures and capabilities in Pakistan, which in turn enables us to better understand how we can best deliver the remaining courses under this Project."

Dr Robertson also acknowledged the great achievement of the Punjab Government and Dr Mohammad Tahir in establishing the PFSA as a world class forensic laboratory.

The coming nine months for the AFP Project includes a variety of activities to further develop forensic capability in Pakistan, including two more training courses in Karachi and Lahore, two Forensic Leadership Forum meetings in Karachi, Islamabad and a number of training courses in Australia.

This Project continues to demonstrate the strong strategic relationship and even stronger friendship between Australia and Pakistan.

www.brecorder.com/pakistan/general-news/86920-australia-introduces-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 2, 2013 at 9:02am

Here's an NPR report on Pakistan's "patriot Act":

Earlier this month, Pakistan's powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan's Patriot Act. Its name here is "Investigation for Fair Trial Bill."

It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court.

To American ears, the argument for the new law should sound vaguely familiar. Pakistani officials say that in order to fight the war against terror, they need to be allowed to capture emails, listen in on cellphone calls, and track suspects so they can stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

That's the same argument FBI Director Robert Mueller made before members of Congress when the FBI sought changes in the Patriot Act.

Already A Common Practice

The difference is that the Pakistani version has been introduced into an entirely different societal context. To begin with, it is an open secret that security agencies in Pakistan already tape phones and monitor email with impunity.

They are supposed to get warrants to do this, but they rarely do. The bill is seen as legal cover for what is already common practice. Another difference: This being Pakistan, the feeling among those who are following the bill is that the investigative powers won't be limited to terrorists. Politicians, they believe, are likely to be the main targets.

"There are two sides of the argument. One is that this is a country at war — a war within and war in the region — so you need certain laws to protect people from terrorist activity," says Harris Khaliq, a poet and columnist in Islamabad. "At the same time, Pakistan has a checkered political history and we as citizens are really wary of a situation where these laws or such policies could be actually used to oppress political opponents of whoever is in power."

It is common to use criminal charges as a brickbat against powerful politicians. Bribery and corruption charges are routinely filed and then dismissed. Smear campaigns are frequent. Democracy in Pakistan is too fragile to allow these kinds of sweeping powers, says Aasim Sajjad, a professor of political economy at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.

"Frankly, to be honest, it is not as if this act per se would be required for this sort of big-brother apparatus to operate. I think it operates in any case," Sajjad says. "The worry is that the state and the intelligence apparatus here has historically been so powerful and so unaccountable that there is a feeling that we would be totally surrendering every last remaining bit of independence or civil liberties" by passing the law....

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/168222711/pakistans-patriot-act-could...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 2, 2013 at 9:22am

Here's Global Post on witness protection in Pakistan:

Ten years ago, Mohammad Ajmal was arrested in Karachi for the murders of 38 men. The murders, all committed in the Pakistani province of Sindh, were neither his first nor his last offenses.

Ajmal, better known in Pakistan by his alias, Akram Lahori, had been systematically killing Shiite Muslims since 1996, when he founded Lashkar e Jhangvi, a militant organization with ties to Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

Today, inside Karachi Central Jail, Lahori waits once again to hear the date of his impending trial, one that has been heard, postponed and rescheduled multiple times.

Pakistan’s courts value testimonies from eyewitnesses above all else. And, in this case, two of the three witnesses have disappeared. The third turned hostile.

Disappearing witnesses have become so common that during its last parliamentary session, the Sindh government moved to consider a witness protection bill that would provide eyewitnesses with sanctuary and relocation so they could testify safely. For Lahori’s victims, however, the bill might come too late.

When he was first arrested in 2002, the six-foot tall Lahori proudly told investigators that he was also responsible for killing another 30 Shiites in Punjab.
The confession, though, meant little to Pakistan’s courts.

Since then, Karachi’s high court has acquitted Lahori in several cases of sectarian killings, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses. Though he awaits verdicts from Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, people familiar with Lahori’s case say chances are that the confessed criminal will be set free.

Family members of Lahori’s victims say they have little hope of seeing any sort of justice executed by Pakistan’s legal system. They cite the now infamous acquittal of Malik Ishaq, another founding member of Lashkar e Jhangvi, last July. Authorities accuse Ishaq, long heralded as Pakistan’s most dangerous terrorist, of masterminding the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

While he was detained, Ishaq told reporters and jail wardens that he was personally responsible for the murders of 102 men. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan released Ishaq after holding him for 14 years, pointing to an acute lack of eyewitnesses in the case.

“I couldn’t believe that they set him free,” said the wife of one of Ishaq’s victims. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he committed those crimes, murdering people just for not being in the same religion. Now he’s free to wander Lahore’s streets anyway.”

Activists and top-level politicians in Pakistan say that the cases of Lahori and Ishaq aren’t unusual. In Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, where the conviction rate hovers around 26 percent, the number one reason for acquittals is the lack of witnesses.

The new witness protection bill might help — a little. Presiding over a meeting in Karachi in November, President Asif Ali Zardari acknowledged that a lack of witness testimony was hindering effective prosecution, and specifically directed the Sindh government to work on legislation that guarantees witnesses’ safety.

The Sindh government has already set aside $10,000 for the program, which has been modeled on current laws in other countries, and aims to protect witnesses and their families so that they can record their testimonies in court....

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakist...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 25, 2015 at 10:45pm

"Physical evidence does not lie, it does not perjure itself as humans do," said the dapper 65-year-old Tahir. "It is a silent witness ... We make it speak in a court of law."

Tahir, a dual Pakistani and U.S. citizen, has his own forensics lab in the Unites States. He spent 36 years working with U.S. police and helped write the FBI handbook on forensics.

In 2008, with militant attacks rising in Pakistan, Punjab's chief minister called Tahir and asked for help: to design a new $31 million forensics lab in the city of Lahore, handpick its scientists and try to enforce new standards of crime solving.

The lab was finished in 2012 and at first, business was slow. But now the lab, which is funded by Punjab state, takes around 600 cases a day, Tahir said. It could easily handle twice that if more police start sending in evidence or suspects.

"The police are not educated, they don't know our capabilities. We have to teach them," he said.

PROBLEMS WITH POLICE

The gleaming new lab quickly discovered only a tiny fraction of police knew how to secure crime scenes and collect evidence. DNA samples were moldy. Guns arrived for analysis, smeared with officers' fingerprints.

"If garbage comes in, garbage goes out," explained one scientist at the lab during a recent Reuters visit, as his masked colleague unwrapped a bone from a woman's body found in a canal.

To change that, Tahir set up localized crime scene investigation units and began training police. Now the DNA department says around half the samples they receive are packaged correctly.

"They are getting better," Tahir said. So far 3,100 police out of a force of 185,000 have been trained.

But progress is slow. Punjab Police Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera said police still secure "very few" crime scenes.

One detective was even found fingerprinting himself instead of the suspects for dozens of cases, an official working with the judicial system said.

Some police try to game the system. A prosecutor and a scientist told Reuters that police sometimes plant bullets at the crime scene and the gun on the suspect.

Courts usually treat police as unreliable. Any confession made to them is legally inadmissible because suspects are frequently tortured. Police argue they are becoming better at playing by the book.

"It used to be - you can say - a quick method of getting disclosure from the accused," said Sukhera. "(But now) I think very rarely the police torture."

Tahir has banned police from entering the lab to make sure they do not interfere with the process.

When Reuters visited the lab, police waited patiently in the basement, some clutching white cloth packages sealed with twine and red wax.

A dozen of them held bottles that were to be tested for alcohol, which is illegal in Pakistan. One had brought a pistol. Another held a box of body parts.

COURT CRISIS

Once the lab makes a report, it goes to the prosecutor. But judges, lawyers and witnesses are often threatened or killed. Courts have a backlog of more than a million cases.

As a result, conviction rates are low. Anti-terrorism courts convict around a third of cases - about half of those are overturned on appeal. Fewer than a quarter of murder suspects are convicted.

But Tahir said that the lab has had some notable successes. One man confessed he poisoned his Scottish wife thanks to evidence from the toxicology and polygraph departments.

Two men claimed police planted suicide vests on them - but they were jailed after the lab's computer section recovered deleted videos from their phones confirming their wrongdoing. A man who raped and killed a 5-year-old in a mosque was identified by his DNA; seven other suspects were freed.

"On one hand, you have exonerated a man," said Tahir. "On the other you have found someone who has actually committed a crime. Nothing makes you happier." (Reuters)

http://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/26-Jan-2015/csi-lahore-top-us-forensic...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2016 at 10:11am

This #Pakistani-American's startup uses technology help prevent school bombings. #Pakistan #terrorism http://cnnmon.ie/1FKrksL via @CNNMoney

What if suicide bombings could be thwarted days in advance?
Startup PredictifyMe is using data to do just that.
"[We] have the largest data set on earth when it comes to suicide bombings," said Dr. Zeeshan-ul-Hassan Usmani, Predictifyme's co-founder and chief data scientist.
This inspired the analytics company to partner with the United Nations in an initiative to use the data and protect schools in Pakistan, Nigeria and Lebanon against bombing attacks.
"Parents in these countries are afraid to send their children to school," said Rob Burns, PredictifyMe CEO and co-founder. "We're sitting here with technology that's easy to deploy and can help predict an attack and secure schools against it."
Terror attacks on schools are at the highest level in 40 years, with more than 10,000 attacks in the last five years, according to the UN.
PredictifyMe's technology not only predicts when a bombing will occur, it can also help schools prepare for an attack.
"This is what we're going to give the United Nations," said Usmani. "What schools, what is the threat level on schools on a particular date and day of the week. [The schools] will talk to the authorities to come up with their own plans."
Related:These tiny robots have superhuman strength
It's a two-step process, driven by the startup's software "Soothsayer" and "SecureSim."
Soothsayer's algorithm analyzes 200 indicators to predict the likelihood of a suicide bombing attack, said Usmani.
This includes weather, sporting events, major holidays, attacks in nearby countries, visits by international dignitaries and the emergence of a blasphemous video on YouTube or Facebook (FB, Tech30).
Usmani said the software is able to predict an attack within three days with 72% accuracy.
Related: 5 startups that are reimagining the world
SecureSim models and simulates explosions, taking into account physical and environmental properties and the type of explosives and shrapnel.
It assesses a facility's vulnerability to an explosion and determines the level of impact and injuries. It can also suggest preemptive safety measures. For instance, Usmani said the software showed that having a school's main entrance 20 feet from the classrooms can reduce the casualty count by one-third.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 12, 2016 at 4:24pm

#Muslim family of award-winning data scientist flees US for #Pakistan after youngest son, 7, bullied http://dailym.ai/2dStTjL via @MailOnline

The Muslim family of an award-winning computer data scientist decided to leave the United States after the latest incident of Islamophobia involved the youngest child being repeatedly bullied. 
Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, a two-time Fulbright Scholar who uses data to prevent terror attacks, moved his family across the world to Pakistan over the weekend after sharing a heartbreaking post on Facebook featuring his 7-year-old son with a sling on his arm after he was attacked by bullies in Cary, North Carolina. 
'Welcome to the United States of America of Donald Trump,' he wrote as a caption for the October 8 post on the social media site. 
'Meet my son Abdul Aziz. He is in grade 1, bullied and beaten by his own classmates in school bus for being a Muslim'.
Usmani's wife, Binish Bhagwanee, told him that their son walked off the school bus traumatized, bruised and battered after a classmate allegedly tried to force him to eat food that wasn't halal. 
When the first grader refused, he claims that five students ganged up on him and made fun of his name while punching him in the face and kicking him in the stomach. 


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3835138/Muslim-family-award... 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Comment

You need to be a member of PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network to add comments!

Join PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

Pre-Paid Legal


Twitter Feed

    follow me on Twitter

    Sponsored Links

    South Asia Investor Review
    Investor Information Blog

    Haq's Musings
    Riaz Haq's Current Affairs Blog

    Please Bookmark This Page!




    Blog Posts

    Solar Power Boom in Pakistan

    Falling solar panel prices and soaring rates for grid electricity are driving a renewable power boom in Pakistan. A second factor spurring the growth in clean energy installations is the requirement of major western apparel brands for garments and textile manufacturers to switch to clean energy. As a result, the solar panel imports in the country jumped from 2,800 MW in 2022 to 5,000 MW in 2023, in…

    Continue

    Posted by Riaz Haq on July 10, 2024 at 12:30pm — 2 Comments

    Pakistani Stock Market is the World's Best Performing Market in 2024

    Pakistan's KSE-100 shares index topped 80,000 points on Wednesday as stocks climbed more than 600 points, making it the world's best performing stock market. The benchmark KSE-100 index has posted an annual return of 89% during FY24 (July 2023-June 2024) in PKR terms while in US dollar terms, the return was 94%, as the Pakistani rupee appreciated against the US dollar, according to …

    Continue

    Posted by Riaz Haq on July 4, 2024 at 6:00pm — 2 Comments

    © 2024   Created by Riaz Haq.   Powered by

    Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service