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ISI/LeT may choose Hafiz Saeed's son to attract jihadis

Last updated on: April 9, 2012 15:36 IST

ISI/LeT may choose Hafiz Saeed's son to attract jihadis

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Vicky Nanjappa

ISI would not allow LeT to go down the drain in case Hafiz Saeed goes low profile following the US announcement of a $10 million bounty on his head. And that's why all eyes are on his son Talha Saeed, who can easily take over the reins from his father to further the jihadi cause, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

There may be a lot of bravado in the manner that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba speaks. But the fact of the matter is that after the announcement of $10 million bounty on him, he is likely to quieten down. And a low-pitched Hafiz Saeed is not good news for the Lashkar as the recruitments are sure going to dry up as it is his speeches that bring in the cadres.

What happens in case the United States does manage to hunt him down? The going will be tough for the Lashkar without a doubt, but this is something that both the Inter Services Intelligence and the Lashkar had anticipated. To overcome this, the Lashkar and the ISI had already begun a grooming process and the most likely successor to Hafiz Saeed would be his son Talha Saeed who is becoming quite a name to reckon with.

The intelligence collected on Saeed Jr by Indian agencies show that he has been gradually moving up the ranks. He has always operated behind the scenes and would come to the forefront when there is a necessity.

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Image: Video grab showing Haifz Saeed's son Talha Saeed addressing a rally in Lahore


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'People like Lakhvi not good at politics'

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It was assumed that it would be Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi who would take over the Lashkar in case of any eventuality against Hafiz Saeed. However, sources in the Intelligence Bureau point out that Lakhvi is more of an operations specialist and would continue to handle that portfolio. "He is more on the ranks of an Ilyas Kashmiri in the Al Qaeda. These persons are not good at the politics of the issue and are unable to convince the people about their agenda," an IB source said.

Talha Saeed, whose name cropped up prominently during the interrogation of Jubair Ahmad from Woodbridge in Virginia during a Federal Bureau of Investigation interrogation, has been actively involved in the global affairs of the Lashkar.

Armed with oratory and publicity skills, Talha has been in touch with the foreign operatives and spreading the message that his father has always tried to convey. In any big attack, it is Talha who has been controlling what information needs to be out or not.

While Talha's role became more prominent when the Lashkar had planned on going global, the coming days may see a slight change in that strategy, officials say.

"He is being asked to focus more on the Kashmir issue and also India and has been asked to stay in touch with the newer recruits of the outfit. We may get to see a lot of him in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir camps of the Lashkar and like his father, he will be asked to further the Pakistan policy against India," an Indian intelligence official said.

 


Image: File image of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi


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Transition from father to son sooner than later

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Till date Talha has focused more on putting up content on the internet and also sharing information and videos about his father. These include his father's speeches and messages, which according to the Lashkar, needs to be circulated in order to draw the global jihadis.

These messages are being circulated by Talha and his men in the US, Iraq and other conflict zones such as Palestine and Kashmir.

The ISI would however pick Talha over the rest of the biggies in the LeT in case there is a need. History has shown powerful outfits go down the drain when there is a leadership conflict and the ISI would not want their pet outfit go down due to this. Also there is a clear example of how the Al Qaeda has been losing influence since the death of Osama bin Laden.

In the Lashkar circles, the grooming of Talha began nearly five years ago. Although he remained a quiet spectator all these years, his role started to gain importance after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It was he who had said that certain shots of the attack ought not to be shown while promoting global jihad as it could have a bad impact and also would become a ground to prosecute his father.

In addition to this Talha is quite popular with the rest of the Lashkar tribe and a gradual transition to take over the reigns of his father will not be objected which makes the task of the ISI easier.

At the moment there is no real move on part of the ISI to replace Hafiz Saeed and he would continue to be the supreme commander of the LeT. However, according to officials in India, the transition from the father to the son would take place sooner as Pakistan does believe that the growing pressure against Saeed senior will force them to think of a different strategy regarding the man.


Image: At the moment there is no real move on part of the ISI to replace Hafiz Saeed
Photographs: Reuters

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