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Kashmir on Al Qaeda radar

Al-Qaeda?s links with Kashmiri militant outfits date back to the 1990s.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2006 01:05 IST
Arun Joshi

When did Al-Qaeda arrive in Kashmir?

Al-Qaeda’s links with Kashmiri militant outfits date back to the 1990s. Many members of Hizb-ul-Mujahideeen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen were killed in Khost in Afghanistan in a US missile attack on camps run by Osama bin Laden. The outfit, however, started making its presence felt in early 2002 after most of its fighters fled Afghanistan, again because of the American air assault. Al-Qaeda formally announced its arrival on July 13, when someone called Abu made a call to a Srinagar-based news agency CNS announcing Abu Abdul Rehman Ansari was the "Aamir" or chief of Al-Qaeda in Kashmir. Within days of the announcement, security agencies noticed men associated with the Al-Qaeda trickling in.

How does the group work?

Al-Qaeda operates in conjunction with local groups — in J&K Lashkar-e-Taiba. There are fears that Qaeda and Lashkar are planning catastrophic strikes in the state on the scale of 9/11 and 7/7.

How many terrorist groups operate in Jammu and Kashmir?

In 1990s, there were around 180 groups, some which existed on paper only. By 1993, foreign groups like Harkat-ul-Ansar, Lashkar and Al-Badr appeared on the scene. Jaish-e-Mohammad arrived in 2000. Lashkar introduced the cult of fidayeen or suicide attacks. It works in coordination with Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen, that provides logistic support. 

Where are these groups most active?

Poonch has lately become a hub for terror activities as has Bandipore. Meetings of the unified command of militant groups are often held in Gursai area of Poonch. The plot to attack the temple site in Ayodhya was hatched there.