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India's most wanted Abu Hamza active in Kashmir

By Vicky Nanjappa
March 01, 2012 14:47 IST
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Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative arrested in Delhi has revealed that he was reporting to LeT commander Abu Hamza, who shuttles between Pakistan and Kashmir. Vicky Nanjappa reports.      

Effective coordination between agencies, which led to the arrest of two Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives on Wednesday, may be the perfect arguing point for Home Minister P Chidambaram to push for the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre that has run into rough weather.  

The Delhi police on Wednesday claimed that they had managed to foil major terrorist-planned attacks in the national capital with the arrest of Ahtesham and Shafaqat from south east Delhi.

While this is one part of the argument, the other worrying part is the manner in which the Lashkar-e-Tayiba continues to lure Indian youngsters to unleash terror on Indian soil.

While the police continue to grill the two youngsters regarding their Delhi plans, the more important angle to the investigation that has been revealed is that the notorious Abu Hamza is still in Kashmir.

Hamza is a key figure in the Lashkar network who has control over the Kashmir operations. More importantly, he is also wanted for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

Hamza figures not only in various chargesheets in the 26/11 case, but his name is also present in the dossiers that India has sent to Pakistan with a list of most wanted.

The interrogation of Ahtesham has revealed that Hamza was the man he was reporting to and it was with his help that he had come to Delhi. Moreover, the police have also found that Hamza shuttles between Pakistan and Kashmir. Earlier his role was restricted to handling foot soldiers who launched attacks on India soil. However after lying low for a couple of months after the 26/11 attack, he was made commander of the outfit in Kashmir.

Hamza's name had first cropped up when he played the role of handler in the Indian Institute of Science attack in Bangalore. His name resurfaced during the 26/11 attack as one of the men coordinating the attack from Pakistan. Reports on Hamza indicate that the man has a way with newer recruits. He coordinates the attacks and then synchronises them from his base with great ease, which makes him an asset for the Lashkar.

While the police continue to quiz the arrested LeT operatives, they claim to have credible information on the plans of the Lashkar. There appears to be a lot of reliance on using the youth from the Valley to launch strikes on Indian soil. They feel that this is an easier method compared to sending in their men from Pakistan, which involves the hassle of crossing the border. Youngsters from Kashmir being used in a terror strike were witnessed during the recent Delhi high court blast.

Intelligence Bureau officials point out that the Lashkar has managed to pick up several disgruntled youth from the Valley and would continue to use them for operations on Indian soil.

The Lashkar at the insistence of the Inter-Services Intelligence has been instilling the anti-India sentiment in many of these youths and are also sending them to carry out strikes within India. This not only sends across a strong message, but also keeps these youth engaged in what they believe is a fight for the sake of their religion.

"They have also been targeting educated youngsters. This is a trend that has been noticed for quite sometime now as terror groups find it easier to deal with such youth. Moreover, the level of frustration is much more in an educated person, especially those who feel cheated by the system. Such youngsters are picked up during the various recruitment drives set up by the Lashkar, an IB official said.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore