Islamic extremist group to establish cell in Japan

A member of an outlawed Pakistani extremist Sunni militant group entered Japan two years ago to establish a local branch, a newspaper said Friday. The Sankei newspaper said documents it obtained from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police showed a Pakistani man in his 30s belonging to the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) group entered and left Japan in 2003 on a religious activities visa.

While in Japan, the man told others worshipping at Tokyo-area mosques that he had come to the country to start an SSP branch, the paper said. The report did not indicate where police believe the man currently might be.

A police spokesman who identified himself by the surname Hagiwara declined to comment on the report. The Pakistani government banned the SSP in 2002 for allegedly killing hundreds of minority Shiite Muslims in recent years.

This past autumn, the British government also included the SSP on a list of 15 international Islamic groups it proposed banning under anti-terrorism legislation in the wake of the July bombings in London.

Although Japan has not suffered an Islamic terror attack on home soil, concerns have been high that the dispatch of Japanese troops on a humanitarian mission in Iraq and Tokyo's high-profile support for the U.S.-led war on terror could make it a target for militants, reports the AP. I.L.

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