Death of Kashmiri and the Indian perspective

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One of the world’s most dreaded terrorists, Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed in a drone attack at South Waziristan today. The death comes close on the heels of the 26/11 attack taking another twist in which it has been said that Kashmiri was the one who scripted the attack and the same was approved by the ISI.
While Kashmiri remained a threat to the entire world and the United States in particular, India is thrilled with the information of his death.
Kashmiri’s obsession to undertake attacks on Indian soil is nothing new. His latest plan was to carry out an operation known as “Ghazb-e-Hind in which he wanted to ensure the destruction of India.
Who was Kashmiri? Also known as Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri, this man born in the year 1964 started out as a mujhahideen fighting the USSR. Hailing from the Kotli district of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he was from the very beginning in the close company of the dreaded ISI in Pakistan. There were reports that he was part of the Special Services Group of the Pakistan army too. This man who lost one eye while fighting the Soviets was one of the fiercest warriors in Afghanistan.
However Kashmiri’s primary agenda had always been Kashmir and he had said on several ocassions that he wanted to complete the battle in the valley. Soon after the Soviet war, he spent a lot of time in Kashmir and introduced the militant group, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in India. However there was a falling out between him and the ISI when the latter insisted that he fight alongside Maulana Masood Azhar in Kashmir. Kashmiri refused to do so and fell out with the ISI. This prompted him to start his own outfit called as the 313 brigade which today is associated with the Al-Qaeda.
During his battle in Kashmir, he was also once arrested by Indian forces. But he managed to escape after two years in prison. On his return to Pakistan, he continued to control operations in Kashmir and was even awarded by Pervez Musharaf who was the army chief at that time.
However after his fall out with the ISI, he even attempted to assassinate Pervez Musharaff for which he was arrested. He was however let off following which he continued battle US forces in Afghanistan under the banner of the 313 brigade.
In the year 2009, US forces had claimed to have killed this man at North Wazirstan. However that news proved to be false and Kashmiri came out in the open and gave an interview to Salim Shehzad of Asia Times Online who was recently killed allegedly by the ISI.
On August 6, 2010 the United States labeled Kashmiri a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” while the United Nations added him and his group HuJI to its blacklist established under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.
The 26/11 connection: The connection that Kashmiri had to this attack had slowly started to come out following an interview to Asia Times Online and now the death of Shehzad. Speaking about Kashmiri, the late Shehzad had told us that Kashmiri was in the know about the 26/11attacks. He also said that Kashmiri had said that the attack was originally conceived by a Pakistani security agency.
As a run-up to the attack several low profile attacks were carried out in India. Under the direction of General Ashfaq Kayani — then the Inter Services Intelligence director general; now the Pakistan army chief — low key attacks were initially planned in India. This plan continued when General Nadeem Taj took over as ISI chief after Kayani was promoted to his present position.
A few dozen terrorists were trained at the Mangla dam near Islamabad to be later sent to Gujarat from where they were to travel to Kashmir and give the militancy in that state a terror fillip. Lashkar leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhwi, who faces a trial for his role in the 26/11 attacks, was part of this plan.
After Al Qaeda representatives stepped in, they suggested that instead of carrying out a low-profile attack on Kashmir, the 26/11 attack be staged instead. Lakhvi and his ISI minders disassociated with the original plan of attacking Kashmir and decided to go ahead with this attack.
Shahzad had also pointes out that Kashmiri believes India will soon involve itself militarily in Afghanistan. And when that happens the Ghazb-e-Hind will be launched with a massive terror operation across India.
The India connection: The intelligence bureau in India says that his death has come exactly at a time when Pakistan’s ISI wanted it the most. He was beginning to become an embarrassment for the Pakistan establishment. There existence of Kashmiri only meant that the system would have been exposed. The recent attack at Karachi and also the 26/11 attack are two incidents that the ISI would rather let the world forget. The death of Shehzad and now Kashmiri are clear indications of the fact that the ISI wants to conceal a lot. For Shehzad, Kashmiri was a big source for his stories and during their interactions many aspects regarding the involvement of the ISI in various attacks had begun to come to light. The naval base attack at Karachi was something that Shehzad had been writing about and he had started to expose the infiltration of the Al-Qaeda into the Pakistani establishment. This was something that the ISI could not afford at this time since the ongoing trial at Chicago too has put the ISI in a very embrassing situation. One one hand Headley claims that it was the ISI which was behind this attack to some extent and on the other Rana too had said that he was an ISI agent and not a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative. On the other hand there is a suit filed by the Israeli family against the ISI and the court had decided on issuing summons to the ISI leadership.
The IB says that with the death of Osama Bin Laden, there has been a change in the mindset of the terror outfits. They expected the ISI to protect him, but today feel let down. Moreover the ISI had also softened its stance against the US and was seen making their peace in order to avoid any sort of embarrassment in the US courts. This effectively meant that the terror groups were hell bent on battling the ISI. Kashmiri in particular has been very vocal about the ISI and the establishment did expect him to continue speaking out against the ISI. When this was the case, the ISI must have thought it is better to blow his cover and get the US to eliminate who anyways have him on their hit list.
Indian agencies also point out that in the past few months, Kashmiri had been showing keen interest in India. He not only wanted to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, but also wanted to carry out operations across the country. He had termed his operation as Ghazb-e-Hind. IB reports suggest that a large recruitment drive had already commenced and a major of cadres from Kerala had been roped in and were being trained under him. The IB says he sure was a big threat to India and his elimination has come as very good news.

Author: Vicky Nanjappa

just a reporter

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