Terrorists of the banned outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had been fighting alongside the Taliban against the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan for the past several years, may soon intensify efforts to infiltrate into the Indian territory, according to the latest assessment of security agencies.
“Carrying out terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir has been the primary goal of these outfits. Over the years, they have extended active support to Taliban. JeM has been deploying senior commanders and trained cadres for Taliban operations. LeT has also been a major source of armed men fighting along with Taliban and Haqqani Network. They share the same ideology,” said a government official.
The official said: “However, after things settle down a little in Afghanistan, their focus would again shift to their main objective. Among the hundreds of prisoners released from Afghan prisons, many were from LeT and JeM.”
The agencies said attempts to infiltrate via the Jammu-Rajouri sector had already increased.
Another official pointed out that even on Saturday, three suspected JeM cadres were killed in an encounter with the security forces in South Kashmir. Preliminary findings indicated that they were part of the module involving two Pakistani nationals who were eliminated in Awantipora on July 31.
Since January, 95 terrorists have been neutralised in Jammu & Kashmir and 18 of them were Pakistani nationals, officials claimed.
In 2000, the JeM was founded in Pakistan by Masood Azhar, after his release from an Indian prison along with two others in exchange for passengers on board the Indian Airlines’ flight IC-814, which was hijacked on December 24, 1999. The hijacked plane had been taken to then Taliban-controlled Kandahar.
Azhar was earlier general secretary of Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Ansar which had links with Al-Qaeda. “JeM has an organic link with Taliban. In the past, it has also provided refuge to their cadres... following Taliban takeover, the JeM chief on August 16 congratulated his followers through a message titled ‘Manzil Ki Taraf (Towards the Goal)’,” he said.
Now headquartered at Muridke in Pakistan, LeT was founded in the Kunar province of Afghanistan in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed and others. At present, LeT cadres are said to be mostly operating in the Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces, while JeM fighters are active in the Gazni, Kandahar and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan.
“The LeT and JeM leaderships have been in contact with top Taliban functionaries through Haqqani Network, which is in the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions list. Its chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and key operatives like Khalil Ahmed Haqqani are UN-designated terrorists,” said the official.
Following the Taliban takeover, the group led by Sirajuddin's brother Anas and Khalil, is now controlling security for Kabul. Based on this development, Indian security agencies believe that LeT and JeM would continue to get support from Taliban.
This apart, as per a UNSC report in June, based on the Monitoring Team's observations, Taliban and Al-Qaeda continued to be closely aligned. Al-Qaeda elements were said to be residing in at least 15 Afghan provinces.
“Sirajuddin Haqqani is the leader of the Miram Shah Shura, which is not a geographical term but an analytical concept describing a regional body of the Supreme Council. He is also assessed to be a member of the wider Al-Qaeda leadership, but not of the Al-Qaeda core leadership (the Hattin Shura),” said the report.
The Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, whose first chief was Asim Umar alias Shaan-ul Haq from Uttar Pradesh's Deepa Sarai in Sambhal, also operates under the Taliban umbrella from Kandahar, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.
“The group reportedly consists of primarily Afghan and Pakistani nationals, but also individuals from Bangladesh, India and Myanmar,” it said, also noting that the wife of Asim Umar, who was later killed, was said to be among the 5,000 Taliban prisoners freed by the now-ousted Afghan government last year as part of the Doha agreement.