The New Lashkar

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Flint, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    Alarm at LoC but it's jihadis, not Taliban

    8 Apr 2009, 0517 hrs IST, TNN

    NEW DELHI: The Line of Control has become red-hot. There is a huge surge in infiltration attempts by well-equipped, hardcore jihadis with a new-found determination to take the fight to the security forces if they are intercepted.

    While the fear, triggered by the presence of a couple of Pashto-speaking jihadis among those trying to come in, about Taliban making a foray into Kashmir was misplaced, the repeated efforts at infiltration marked the determination for a new terror offensive in J&K.

    Security forces, taken aback by the sheer intensity of the attempts, say the emerging infiltration pattern this time is significantly different from earlier years on two counts.

    One, the infiltration bids have begun quite early this year, much before the snow in the mountain passes has melted, with March itself recording several fierce gunbattles along the border.

    For another, larger groups of 20-30 militants are trying to infiltrate together in one go, instead of earlier attempts to sneak across in much smaller batches.

    That apart, the terrorists are prepared to engage the security forces at the LoC itself. "Yes, the militants are trying to infiltrate in larger numbers, armed and equipped to directly engage with security forces. Compared to March 2008, infiltration bids have trebled this March," said a source.

    Scotching the speculation about Taliban trying to get in, he said, "The infiltrators are militants from Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Al-Badr, largely hailing from Pakistan's Punjab, PoK and North-West Frontier Province areas adjoining PoK. They are not the Taliban cadres."

    There are, of course, well-established links between the militant outfits operating in J&K and the growing Taliban movement along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, with training facilities often being shared between them under the benign gaze of ISI.

    "Laskhar, Hizb and Jaish have had links with Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the former Afghan warlord who is now once again emerging in the powerplay in Afghanistan. They can be expanded, especially since jihadis want India enmeshed within the Af-Pak problem," said an official.

    It will, however, be difficult to replicate in J&K the typical Taliban tactic of holding ground and then consolidating the Talibanisation process of the territory under control.

    Nevertheless, the ongoing infiltration spike across the LoC is sending alarm bells clanging in the Indian security establishment because of the unusual tactics being employed by the terrorists.

    The pattern of winter infiltration being witnessed this time, instead of infiltration generally seen towards late-April and early-May, is being compared to similar attempts made in Macchal, Gurez and the snow-capped Shamsabari range during 1996-1998.

    "The tactic of infiltration by using nullahs even when there is 8 to 12-feet of snow is being replicated this time," said an officer.

    A large group of 25 or so heavily-armed militants, with GPS devices, satellite phones, high-quality winter gear and ice-axes, for instance, was intercepted in the Kupwara sector on March 20. Eighteen terrorists and eight soldiers, including an officer, were killed in the fierce five-day gunbattle which ensued.

    The security forces, however, could not successfully ambush another large group of around 35 militants in the Gurez sector on March 25-26. Radio intercepts of these militants have pointed towards the existence of Taliban elements among them.

    "One reason could be that the accent or diction of some militants from the NWFP areas adjoining PoK is quite similar to the Pushtu-speaking Taliban,
    " said another officer.

    The Army, on its part, has strengthened its multi-tiered counter-infiltration grid along the LoC, with intelligence reports holding that "400 to 500" militants were waiting to sneak into J&K. "There are around 800-900 militants already present in J&K, with almost 50% of them being of foreign origin," said the officer.
  3. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    Lashkar and Jaish cadres replenish terror ranks ahead of polls
    The new infiltrators are geared for high-altitude survival

    Lashkar started testing India’s LoC defences in 2008

    SRINAGAR: This week, tens of thousands of police personnel will fan out across Jammu and Kashmir to guard the Lok Sabha elections from any threats, in particular jihadist assaults.

    But their adversaries also seem to be prepared. Guided by global positioning system equipment, and specially geared for high-altitude survival, a new wave of infiltrators has succeeded in an enterprise that conventional wisdom has held to be impossible: crossing the Line of Control when the passes across the mountains are still carpeted by snow that is upwards of 40 feet thick.

    Last month Jammu and Kashmir saw some of the most intense fighting in years. In one instance, Indian troops were pitted against a group of up to 25 Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad cadre who had traversed the snowfields that separated their base near Athmuqam and the Rajwar forests.

    Despite losing seven soldiers in an ambush, troops of the 1 Paracommando Regiment succeeded in killing five terrorists, which forced the group to disperse. Later, police and Army personnel hunted down six more terrorists in villages around Handwara.

    In addition, soldiers from 22 Rashtriya Rifles eliminated seven members of the group at Drangyari, close to the LoC.

    No let-up

    But the interception of the group did not stem the surge in infiltration. Last week, at least 16 Hizb ul-Mujahideen operatives pushed their way through the snow-covered Kanzalwan forests of Gurez and headed towards Bandipora
    . Troops have made fire contact twice with the group, killing at least two terrorists, but there has been no sign of the rest of it.

    Eight Lashkar terrorists are believed to have crossed the LoC moving towards Trehgam. Other groups are known to be preparing to cross the Sonapindi Pass from Kel into Macchel.

    New tactics

    Believed to have been crafted by a Lashkar commander, known only by the aliases Muzammil and Yusuf, the winter-infiltration strategy seems to be based on a careful study of India’s LoC defences.

    Kashmir has traditionally seen infiltration in late spring and early summer, after the snow on the mountains melts. The Army’s Srinagar-based XV Corps prepares for this seasonal offensive by pushing additional troops forward, putting up barbed wire and planting electronic sensors. When the passes are snowed over, though, the Army and jihadist groups shifted their energies to the southern stretches of the LoC, in Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu.

    Last year, the Lashkar began testing India’s winter defences in Kashmir. Infiltrators probed the Keran and Lolab sectors in late- February 2008, leading to the death of at least five Lashkar and Jaish cadres.

    Later, in March 2008, a larger Lashkar group crossed into Handwara — but it lost at least three men while trying to ford a river in sub-zero temperatures.

    But enough number of infiltrators evidently made the winter passage to encourage Muzammil to plan this year’s infiltration plans. India’s intelligence services estimate that more than 300 cadres from the major jihadist groups have been trained for cold-weather infiltration.

    Lashkar spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi — which is a pseudonym for Lahore-based Abdullah Muntazar, spokesperson for the Lashkar’s parent religious group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa — has publicly exulted in the success of the strategy. “The gun-battles should serve as a message to India,” he said in a recent statement, “that the struggle for Kashmir’s freedom is not over.”

    Back in January, after the Lashkar was compelled to close its offices and training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, its language was very different. “If the world listens to our cries and plays its role in resolving the Kashmir issue,” he said, “there is no point in continuing fighting.”

    Perhaps the most stark about-turn has been made by the patriarch of the Islamist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Geelani — whose anti-election campaign will be helped should the violence escalate.

    In July 2008, empowered by the communally-charged protests that were sweeping the State, Mr. Geelani insisted that the “struggle should be peaceful.” He further claimed: “We need neither the gun of the mujahideen now, nor the support of Pakistan.”

    But at a rally in southern Kashmir on March 29, Mr. Geelani insisted that “armed struggle is the backbone of our struggle. Our issue is internationally acclaimed because of the sacrifices of its martyrs. Such people are our heroes, way ahead of those involved in the political struggle for freedom.”
  4. Soham

    Soham DFI TEAM Senior Member

    Mar 22, 2009
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    They seem to be planning big.
    I've got my fingers crossed.
  5. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    Lashkar-e-Taiba Resumes Operations Against Indian Forces in Jammu and Kashmir[tt_news]=34803&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=721009bab1
    Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 8
    April 3, 2009 05:25 PM Age: 4 days
    Category: Terrorism Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, Terrorism, South Asia, Home Page
    By: Animesh Roul

    After lying low for a few months following the November 2008 Mumbai carnage and the subsequent crackdown on its leadership and camps in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has once again resumed operations in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

    LeT fighters engaged Indian regulars of 1 Para and 6 Btn. Rashtriya Rifles (a counterterrorism paramilitary created in 1990 for use in Kashmir) in a five-day firefight, beginning on March 20 in the Shamasbari forest range of Kupwara District, close to the Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) – a military control line constituting a de facto border between Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The LeT claimed responsibility for the ambush on an army patrol party and the subsequent encounter in which 17 militants and eight soldiers (including a major) were killed (Kashmir Live, March 25; NDTV, March 24). The Indian Army ascribed its losses to the technical sophistication of the insurgents and their extensive use of GPS systems in the densely forested region. According to Brigadier Gurmit Singh; "The militants killed in the encounter were highly trained, well equipped. We have recovered the latest weapons, communication systems and maps from them” (Kashmir Observer, March 27).

    Indian security agencies suspect the Pakistani army of involvement in the infiltration of the militants. The army’s suspicion is based on recovered snow gear, maps, GPS systems, a Thuraya satellite phone, rations and medicines (Kashmir Observer, March 27; RTT News, March 26).
    However, Pakistan has dismissed the idea that the Kupwara encounters were supported by government forces across the border.

    In mid-March, almost a week before the Kupwara battle, at least three LeT terrorists successfully crossed the LoC and were later killed during a siege of the mosque in which they took refuge in the Kishtwar district of Jammu region (News Agency of Kashmir, March 14). One of the militants was identified as an LeT commander, Yusuf Gujjar (Indo-Asian News Service, March 14; Times of India, March 15).

    The recovery of two Pakistan-made liquefied petroleum gas cylinders and four AK-47 assault rifles in the Mendhar area of Poonch District indicated militants successfully crossed the LoC late last month (Daily Excelsior [Jammu], March 22).

    A day after the Army completed the operation in Kupwara, the LeT terrorists again made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Kashmir Valley from the Gurez sector in Bandipora District and from the Hachamarg area of Handwara District (Times of India, March 28). Indian troops deployed at the LoC have confirmed large-scale attempts by Pakistan-based militants, mostly LeT and Hizb ul-Mujahidin (HuM) cadres, to infiltrate into the state through the forests of the Kupwara and Gurez sectors.

    After recently overhauling its infrastructure in J&K, the LeT has reportedly vowed to continue lethal strikes against the security forces and vital installations in the state. Claiming responsibility for the Kupwara encounters, the LeT’s elusive spokesman, Abdullah (Gaznavi) Muntazir, told local media; “The encounter which ensued turned out to be a long-drawn-out battle… [it] should serve as an eye-opener for New Delhi... India should understand that the freedom struggle in Kashmir is not over… it is active with full force” (Rising Kashmir [Srinagar], March 25).

    There is increasing concern in the Indian security establishment over the flourishing terror infrastructure across the border. Contrary to Pakistan’s claim to have shut down terror camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, unconfirmed reports in early March suggested the LeT has opened up more camps in Muzzafarabad, Mirpur and Kotli for the fresh recruitment and training of new cadres. According to Indian intelligence agencies, the LeT has positioned around 800 cadres under newly designated leaders in charge of J&K operations. The new leaders were identified by Indian intelligence sources as Shahji (a.k.a. Abu Anas), Hyder Bhayee (a.ka. Bilal, a.k.a. Salahuddin), Huzefa (a.k.a. Abdul Gaffar) and Walid, the LeT’s “top man for ammunition supply and finances” (Indian Express, March 7). The four senior LeT commanders reportedly replaced Mumbai attack masterminds Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Zarar Shah and Yousuf Muzammil, all currently in Pakistani custody.

    However, the Kupwara encounter took the Army and paramilitary by surprise and forced them to increase their level of preparedness to meet future infiltration attempts by Pakistan-based terrorists. Likewise, security has been beefed up along the LoC and around vital installations in J&K following intelligence inputs about impending attempts to infiltrate militants into Kashmir in the spring to sabotage the Parliamentary poll in the state. 183 paramilitary companies will be deployed to provide security for the elections (Hindu, March 31).

    The infiltration attempt and subsequent encounter in Kupwara coincided with the first major violation of the bilateral ceasefire in the Uri sector of north Kashmir, in which Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire for several hours on March 20 (, March 21; Daily Times [Lahore], March 22).

    The question remains as to how the LeT has been able to bounce back, even after Pakistan’s so-called crackdown following the Mumbai episode. Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh addressed this puzzle recently by saying the LeT has made a resurgence “because the government of Pakistan is either not able to control them or they are not willing to control them" (Indian Express, April 1).

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