LeT, JeM joined forces for fidayeen attack attempt in Srinagar: Officials
A day before the attack in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar area, local police sent information about a meeting that had taken place in south Kashmir’s Tral area on February 1 between LeT and Jaish militants.Updated: Feb 13, 2018 23:44 IST
Militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) met just days before a fidayeen attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar on February 12, suggesting the strike might have been the result of a rare collaboration between the two principal terror organisations in the region, intelligence officials said on Tuesday.
While there have been occasions where the LeT provided logistical support to home-grown militant groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen, it’s collaboration with JeM signals a shift in the Valley’s insurgency landscape, the officials said.
“A day before the attack in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar area, local police sent information about a meeting that had taken place in south Kashmir’s Tral area on February 1 between LeT and Jaish militants. It was decided to carry out a terrorist attack on SFs (security forces) in downtown Srinagar and in Baramulla town,” according to a report sent to the Jammu and Kashmir police by state intelligence agencies.
The report, which has been seen by HT, warned of an attack in the “next three days”.
The LeT had taken responsibility for the Srinagar attack, which was carried out just a day after the JeM attacked a military base in Jammu, killing six soldiers and a civilian.
A senior Jammu & Kashmir police official, who asked not to be named, said, “Information about the joint meeting was forwarded by state intelligence agencies and shared with all security forces in the Valley.” The intelligence received said that at least one militant from each outfit met in Tral, the hometown of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
One Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper was killed in the Karan Nagar attack by two militants, who were neutralised after a 32-hour gunbattle that ended on Tuesday.
Senior government officials said the LeT-JeM meeting before the attack could be interpreted in two ways. First, JeM and LeT may together to carry out similar fidayeen attacks; second, the JeM may slowly take up space occupied by LeT because the latter has come under repeated international scrutiny.
Ajai Sahni, the executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, said that, as per his knowledge, this was the first time the two militant outfits had planned an attack together.
“The LeT and JeM are considered sort of rivals in their field of operation,” Sahni said. “A joint planned attack is unheard of, but I feel that this could be another ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence) plot to give prominence to one militant group and take the heat off the other,” Sahni added.
“The late 1990’s saw a lot prominence being given to Lashkar, following which the JeM came into the picture. Then in 2016, the Hizbul Mujahideen was being projected, and now the attention is back on JeM. Handlers in Pakistan do it for reasons of their own,” Sahni said.
A senior government official, who asked not to be named, said the home ministry was keeping a close watch. He said the joint meeting could be a repetition of what happened with JeM’s predecessor Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.
“The JeM was formed by former Harkat militants and if LeT and JeM are joining hands, it is possible that the former might take a back seat, but not immediately,” the official said.
First Published: Feb 13, 2018 23:18 IST