Kashmiri villagers carry the body of suspected rebel Arif Lelhari during his funeral in the Lelhar village of Pulwama on August 1. Forces killed top militant commander Abu Dujana and Lelhari in an operation in Pulwama.(AFP)
Kashmiri villagers carry the body of suspected rebel Arif Lelhari during his funeral in the Lelhar village of Pulwama on August 1. Forces killed top militant commander Abu Dujana and Lelhari in an operation in Pulwama.(AFP)

Abu Dujana helped set up al Qaeda in India: Zakir Musa in purported statement

HT could not verify the authenticity of the video message but officials said the voice matched earlier audio clips released by Zakir Musa.
By Toufiq Rashid | Srinagar, Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 05, 2017 10:37 PM IST

Slain militant commander Abu Dujana was the “first martyr” in the war for an Islamic Kashmir and helped set up an al Qaeda cell in India, the global terror outfit’s valley chief Zakir Musa has allegedly claimed.

Musa, a hardline militant, said in a purported statement on Friday that Dujana and Arif Lelhari, both of whom were killed by security forces on August 1, had left the Lashkar-e-Taiba to join the al Qaeda, once led by Pakistan-based terrorist leader Osama bin-Laden.

Hindustan Times could not verify the authenticity of the video message but officials said the voice matched earlier audio clips released by Musa, who left the Hizbul Mujahideen this year.

The al Qaeda’s claims of making inroads in Kashmir could potentially open a new front in the valley, which is witnessing a spurt in militant activities and civilian protests since the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani last year.

State director general of police SP Vaid said there was no way of authenticating the audio clips but added there were reports suggesting Musa and Dujana were close.

“They had made similar claims about al Qaeda presence in valley in 2003 as well. We need to see what kind of backing they have, but for us a terrorist is a terrorist, no matter which organisation he belongs to,” Vaid told HT.

Dujana, a 27-year-old from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, led the LeT in Kashmir before he fell out with the outfit for allegedly marrying a local girl.

Musa, however, said Dujana’s differences with his Pakistan-based handlers arose after he decided to join the al-Qaeda.

“They decided to join the cause of Islam the moment they heard about it and played a major role in formation of Ansar Ghawzat-Ul-Hind (the Islamic name of the local al-Qaeda group),” Musa said in the video statement juxtaposed with photographs of Dujana, Musa and Lelhari.

“Those who used to call them traitors are shamelessly paying homage to them,” Musa said in the statement, his first since named as Kashmir’s al-Qaeda chief by a propaganda channel affiliated to the outfit.

On Friday, social media in Kashmir was abuzz with news about another widely-circulated audio clip, said to be the last message from Dujana and Arif.

Though it was claimed to have been recorded during the encounter with security forces, no gunfire is heard in the background.

Two voices in the clip claim their allegiance to al-Qaeda and ask people not to unfurl Pakistani flags during their funeral.

“Only use the flag of tawheed (a flag with islamic inscriptions about Allah being the only God),” the voices can be heard saying. Hindustan Times doesn’t claim authenticity of the audio.

Dujana’s killing has been termed a “huge achievement” by state police battling hardened militants including Musa.

After the killing of Dujana and Hizbul chief Sabzar Bhat, Musa is among a few of the longest surviving militants in the valley.

Musa is also the first militant commander who claims “the separatist movement in Kashmir is for establishment of an Islamic state and not a political struggle”.

A BTech student, Musa joined Hizbul Mujahideen after leaving his studies midway and was a close associate of Wani.

Musa fell out with Hizbul Mujahideen on May 14, after threatening to publicly behead Hurriyat leaders, who insist that the movement is Kashmir is “political”.

“...Our intention should be that, we have to achieve ‘azadi’ to establish Islamic rule and not for secular state. If we are fighting for secular state then my blood won’t be spilled for that purpose,” he said in an earlier statement.

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