Did ISI start Kashmiri death rumours to hoodwink US?
Weeks after the news that Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a drone strike there has been no confirmation on the same. India's intelligence agencies believe that rumour's of the Al Qaeda commander's death were spread by the Inter-Services Intelligence. Vicky Nanjappa explains why.
The death of top Al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri continues to remain a mystery and Indian agencies say that he is still alive since there has been no credible information that he was killed in the United States drone strike.
On June 4, news broke that Kashmiri was killed, but barring Harkat-ul Jehad-al Islami, the banned terror group that the one-eyed terrorist was leading, there is no confirmation on his death. In fact, even the US refused to confirm the news.
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Image: Ilyas Kashmiri
Headley's testimony prompted Pak to start rumours
Indian agencies say that the rumours of Kashmiri's death were created by Pakistan following Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley's revelation in the Chicago court that Kashmiri played a major role in the 26/11 attack. Moreover, after the death of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, US made it clear that Kashmiri was the most wanted man.
In fact, they also set a July deadline for Pakistan to hunt down Kashmiri and Afghan Taliban's Mullah Omar. Once this directive was given, the ISI found itself in a dilemma. Following bin Laden's death the ISI and Pakistani establishment was already facing the heat from terror groups -- a series of attacks were launched, including the Mehran naval base attack to avenge the Qaeda chief's death. In such a volatile situation, if Kashmiri was eliminated as well all hell would break lose in Pakistan.
Image: LeT operative David Headley
'ISI, Kashmiri may have sorted out differences'
At first, it was believed that the ISI may have killed him as under his leadership the Al Qaeda had managed to infiltrate in the Pakistan Army, which sources say led to the attack on the Mehran naval base. But recent intelligence inputs suggest that the plan to eliminate Kashmiri was called off following a truce with the ISI.
Indian agencies feel that a peace deal could have been brokered only after Kashmiri gave his word to remain silent against the establishment. Once a confidant of the ISI he had a fall-out with the spy agency, but they still valued him knowing that he is the one who trains cadres to carry out attacks with precision.
Image: The ISI logo
Why HuJI confirmed Kashmiri's death
Indian intelligence agencies say that this is the second time Kashmiri and ISI hoodwinked the world.
This is not the first time rumours have surfaced of Kashmiri's death. He had been reportedly killed in a US drone strike in September 2009 as well. However, the only mistake America made was that it was convinced about the death and confirmed it. This gave him enough time to change his base.
Creating rumours, ISI's old strategy
According to the Intelligence Bureau, deaths of high-profile terrorists at the hands of the Pakistan establishment is nothing new.
The ISI tends to eliminate those who cause embarrassment to Pakistan. The ISI got rid of Shahid Bilal who was involved in the Hyderabad twin blasts after it realised that giving him refuge in Pakistan was doing them no good. Bilal's death was confirmed by his father who saw his photographs on the internet.
But the case of Indian Mujahideen's Riyaz Bhatkal is the same as that of Kashmiri's. While there were claims that he was killed by underworld don Chota Rajan's gang there was no confirmation -- neither from Indian agencies nor their Pakistani counterparts. Indian agencies say that the ISI plays such games to create confusion among world security agencies and they have a backing of the Pakistani establishment.
Image: Riyaz Bhatkal