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Rehan: The man planning Lashkar's attacks on India

By Vicky Nanjappa
February 04, 2011 14:07 IST
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While Sajid Mir, the chief handler of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, continues to pose a big security risk, India has started to raise concerns about Rashid Abdullah who is said to be planning a series of attacks on Indian soil.

The prime minister and home minister had recently expressed concern that newer terror groups may be planning attacks in India and these statements were made based on specific intelligence inputs in the wake of the Varanasi blast last December.

There has been an interesting change in the threat perception regarding the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. With the likes of Hafiz Saeed facing the heat, Sajid Mir, whose true identity the Inter Services Intelligence has managed to keep under wraps till date, will focus more on operations in India. While Mir will have overall control on operations in India, he will also look into the role this outfit will need to play in the West considering his expertise.

Indian intelligence agencies say that the key person for localised groups staging attacks in India will however be Abdullah who also go by the alias Rehan.

The latest inputs on Rehan suggest he has shifted base to Bangladesh and will be putting together an important module with Indians so that more home-grown attacks can be launched.

The Indian Mujahideen, which was the Lashkar's most effective Indian-based module, has been in disarray for quite some time thanks to large scale arrests and also the rumour surrounding the death of its founder, Riyaz Bhatkal. Most of its operatives who are still on the loose are either in Pakistan or in the Gulf.

So it is Rehan's job to get together operatives and form newer home-grown groups. The IB says that it is extremely crucial for the ISI to have home-grown terrorist organisations.

Rehan, 35, according to the Intelligence dossier is a senior commander of the Lashkar. Hailing originally from Faislabad, Rehan has many India-based operations to his credit which include the Bangalore serial blasts, the 2006 Mumbai train bombings among others. However, his most important operation was the 26/11 attacks in which he played a vital role during the training of the ten terrorists in Muzafarabad. He is very high on India's most wanted list and also forms part of the Indian dossier to Pakistan.

He always operated out of Pakistan and Nepal but now has shifted base. The IB, which has increased its surveillance on him, believes he will not stick to one place and says he is expected to operate out of the United Arab Emirates since many of the Indian Mujahideen operatives are holed up in that country.

Sources say that these developments show that the Karachi Project is very much on. The Karachi Project, which was also mentioned by 26/11 suspect David Headley during his confession, is a very large operation in which the Lashkar along with the Al-Qaeda plans to come together and carry out mass attacks in India.

The plan which was the brainchild of the ISI involves the likes of Ilyas Kashmiri, Sajid Mir and also Rehan. Not only is the Lashkar planning on using its Pakistan-based cadres to carry out attacks, but will also send in a home-grown outfit to strike terror on Indian soil. Indian agencies are also worried that there is a lot of material collected by Headley in possession of the Lashkar, which could be used by the newer groups for the Karachi Project.

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