Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) trains around 360 militants annually to wage jihad against India and Afghanistan, according to investigators who grilled captured LeT operative Bahadur Ali.
Ali alias Saifullah, a 21-year-old resident of Zia Bagga village of Raiwind in Lahore, told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that he saw 30-50 people being trained in LeT camps any time every month since 2013 when he was provided a 15-day basic training at Mansehra in Pakistan.
Ali underwent three training courses organised by the LeT in 2013, 2014 and 2016 before being pushed into India on June 11-12 along with two other LeT cadres known by their nom de guerre Saad and Darda.
“There are 30-50 trainees at any time in each course which runs throughout the year,” an NIA official quoted Ali as saying.
According to Ali, new operatives were provided 15-day ‘Daura-e-Tulba’ — the basic training. He underwent this at Mansehra in 2013.
Later, the recruits graduate to an arms and ammunition course called ‘Daura-e-Aam’. Ali got this training at the Aksa camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-held Kashmir in September-October 2014, he told NIA.
In the final course, ‘Daura-e-Khas’, the guerrillas get to handle sophisticated arms and learn field crafts. Ali went through this also near Muzaffarabad in the summer of 2016.
“If we calculate on the basis of 30 people trained in every batch, as many as 360 people are trained every year by the LeT,” an NIA officer told IANS.
The LeT, which is known to enjoy the backing of Pakistani intelligence, was blamed for the audacious 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that left 166 Indians and foreigners dead.
The group has been outlawed by India, the US and the UN but its leaders are known to operate with impunity in Pakistan.
Son of a police constable in Pakistan’s Punjab, Ali, arrested on July 25 from Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, is the eighth among nine siblings.
He worked as a ‘Jihad’s fund collector’ for Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in his initial days and switched to the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation — a front NGO of Lashkar-e-Taiba — in Lahore in 2013-14 before finally taking up LeT training.
All recruits like Ali are radicalised and motivated to undertake jihad against India and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s intelligence and military set-up views New Delhi and Kabul as impeccable enemies of Islamabad.
Ali revealed to the NIA that Pushto-speaking trainers focussed on those headed to Afghanistan.
The NIA officer said the terrorists from Pakistan waging jihad against India might not be well educated but were highly trained in using hi-tech gadgets, suggesting the support of Pakistani military experts.
Once Ali sneaked into India, he communicated with his handlers in Pakistan using Japan-made ICOM wireless sets. These can be used only if one has sound technical knowledge.
Ali revealed that all recruits were shown videos purported to be about the “atrocities” committed on Muslims in India. This is done to motivate them to wage war against India.
Working with Hafiz Saeed’s JuD since 2008, when he was just 13 or 14 years old, Ali said he used to listen to “taqreers” (sermons) of Maulvis and watch videos too.