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The changing faces of terror in Pakistan

November 26, 2010 15:52 IST
Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa identifies the most prominent threats to India.

After 26/11, India sent several dossiers to Pakistan in which it sought the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks and other leaders of terrorist organisations that pose a threat to the country.

While the list of terrorists India wants has not changed much over the past two years, there has been a change in the terror hierarchy in Pakistan as key terrorists don new roles.

Until last year, Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Mohammad Saeed and his commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhwi were in supreme positions of power, but it is believed, no longer.

Meet those at the helm of terror in Pakistan:

Ilyas Kashmiri: Both the Research and Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau, India's external and domestic intelligence gathering organisations, say the one-eyed terrorist is the most dangerous man around.

The Inter-Services Intelligence knows Kashmiri, who twice tried to assassinate then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, can inspire malleable youth in Pakistan to wage deadly attacks on Indian soil.

Kashmiri -- who claims he once beheaded an Indian soldier -- has been issuing threats about the launch of an anti-India operation and his recruiters may have spread to various parts of India, including Kerala.

Dawood Ibrahim: The ISI would like to keep the Mumbai native underground, deny his presence in Pakistan and elude the growing international pressure to extradite him to India.

The gangster -- who recently featured on Forbes magazine's list of most powerful people in the world -- raises funds for terror operations and uses his vast network in India to help Pakistani terrorists infiltrate the country.

Intelligence Bureau sources believe that removing Dawood from the equation would reduce at least 30 per cent of the terror directed against India.

Mohammed Saeed: India's most wanted, perhaps more than Dawood Ibrahim. The ISI has directed Saeed to stay away from terror operations launched by his creation, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhwi: The operational mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks. Even though he is in prison, Lakhwi still runs the show for Lashkar. He is said to be in touch with Kashmiri about terror attacks in India.

Abu-al-Qama: He supervised the training of the 26/11 terrorists. An expert on Maharashtra, he has been part of every terror operation undertaken in the state, including the July 11, 2006 bombings of suburban trains.

He has now turned his focus to the Maldives and Nepal.

Terror's new faces

Major Iqbal: The ISI officer is said to have played an active role in the 26/11 attacks, coordinated the operation between the ISI and the Lashkar.

Based in Lahore, he takes a keen interest in the Lashkar modules active in India.

Sajid Mir: His name surfaced when the investigations into 26/11 commenced, in association with Fahim Ansari, a co-accused in the Mumbai attacks case. David Headley says he surveyed targets in Mumbai and elsewhere in India for the mysterious Mir.

Rashid Abdullah: The 33-year-old operative has set up Lashkar modules in Bangladesh. Based in Faisalabad, Pakistan, Abdullah, who also goes by the alias Rehan, is said to help recruits enter India through fresh routes in Bangladesh and Nepal.

While these terrorists are the ones India really needs to be worried about, there are others like Abu Hamza, Riyaz Bhatkal and Amir Raza.

Bhatkal, co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, has gone off the radar after the government's crackdown on the outfit.

He is believed to be currently in Pakistan along with Raza. The duo have been told to revamp the IM since the ISI needs a terror organisation with roots in India.

Sikh militancy

Intelligence inputs have been pouring in about Sikh militants trying to make a comeback with Pakistani help.

Lakhbhir Singh Rode, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, Ranjit Singh Neeta and Wadhwa Singh are believed to be based in Pakistan.

Rode has been sheltered by the ISI for a few years now. Panjwar currently raises funds for future terror operations. Neeta keeps in touch with smugglers operating on the India-Pakistan border and helps the ISI locate routes for terrorists to cross over into India.

Wadhwa Singh helps the ISI keep Kashmir on the boil, and also trains new recruits.

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Vicky Nanjappa