Security forces on Thursday killed top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Ismail, who was believed to be responsible for the Amarnath terror attack that killed several pilgrims in July. His death has widened the “factional faultlines” among jihadists in south Kashmir, The Indian Express reported today. As many as 58 terrorists have been killed in south Kashmir alone this year. According to IE, the jihadists have been blaming each other for the killings of top terror commanders by security forces this year.
A day before the killing of Abu Ismail, a Hizbul Mujahideen statement, which was released online, had alleged that the al-Qaeda commander in the region had taken a lot of money from the Indian government to engineer the “martyrdom of important mujahideen”, IE reported. Abu Ismail had become Lashkar commander in south Kashmir after deposing his predecessor Abu Dujana, who was killed in August soon after he had joined former Hizbul terrorist Zakir Rashid Bhat’s newly formed al-Qaeda affiliate – Ansar Ghazwa’tul Hind.
The Hizbul statement had blamed Zakir Musa (a pseudonym for Zakir Bhat) for the killing of so many mujahideens by Indian forces this year. Calling him a “traiter”, it said Musa is “in fact an agent of India” trying to “weaken the “freedom movement.”
On August 1, Bhat had attacked Pakistan army in an Eid-ul-Azha message. He accused Pakistan Army of betraying “Kashmir jihad”. He even called Pakistan Army as “slaves of America” who have “oppressed Muslims, and betrayed the Kashmir jihad to please Hindus and the Americans,” IE reported.
According to IE, Hizbul chief terrorist Syed Salahuddin had claimed in May that some forces were trying to create confusion among the masses in the name of “Islamic law and martyrdom.” However, al-Qaeda had then hit back, saying Salahuddin had once sought help of Osama bin Laden for the struggle in Kashmir, while LeT chief Hafiz Saeed had led funeral prayers of dead al-Qaeda terrorists in Lahore.
The report says that Hizbul commanders in the Valley are struggling to assert their authority as they have been failing to provide weapons and ammunition to the new cadre, who had joined the terror group following the anti-India mobilisation of 2015. Moreover, there has been a growing distance between young mujahideens and the ageing leadership of the terror group.
According to IE, intelligence sources are concerned that Zakir Bhatt could now become the nucleus for a new generation of terrorists inspired by global jihadist ideology.