Monday, September 27, 2010
Kashmiri the new Al-Qaeda Boss
Ilyas Kashmiri former member of the Pakistan special services group who according to both Western and Indian intelligence has taken over as Chief of Operations of the Al-Qaeda had played a very crucial role during the Mumbai 26/11 attacks.
Indian intelligence bureau sources told rediff.com that he has now become a key player and had at first shown keen interest in Indian operations. But he has been advised by the ISI to focus more on attacks on Western countries.
The past couple of months have seen very interesting developments where Kashmiri is concerned. Sources in the investigating agency say that while they piece together the investigation conduct post David Headley more links to Kashmiri and the 26/11 attack had cropped up.
Kashmiri had around a year ago told a website from Pakistan that the Mumbai attack was originally his plan but it was later hijacked by the ISI and enacted by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The interrogation of Headley has brought to light that Kashmir was in the know of the entire operation and was very much part of the operation when Headley and Tawwahur Rana conducted the survey of several areas in Mumbai. There was a lot of data sharing between the two of them but over a period of time, the operation was taken away from him by the ISI. Until this time there was no rift between Kashmiri, the ISI and the Lashkar. However the ISI wanted this attack to be exclusively an attack of the Lashkar and they wanted the Al-Qaeda to focus more on the operations against the US.
The ISI and Kashmiri fell out for a brief while and the attack was carried out finally by the Lashkar in Mumbai. However today the scenario has changed completely and the ISI is trying to bring the Al-Qaeda to the forefront in both Europe and Asia while saving the Lashkar exclusively for Kashmir.
Western Intelligence agencies say that this change in leadership has made the outfit deadlier. Indian intelligence agencies say that he has taken over as Chief of Operations and the Al-Qaeda has branched into two forces One part of it would focus entirely on the Western countries while the other would work alongside the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other outfits in a bid to keep terror afloat in India.
IB sources say that while the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman-al-Zawahari will continue to head the outfit and take care of aspects pertaining to the finances, Kashmiri will don the new role in which he would be chief of operations. This means all attacks in the future will be coordinated directly by him and he would be in charge of the planning and also the recruitment process.
The ISI had initially designated Kashmiri to handle an attack on the Common Wealth Games but settled for other outfits since it felt that it did not want the Al-Qaeda carrying out attacks on Indian soil this early. Moreover they also know that Kashmiri is a trump card for them since he has vast experience in fighting in India and is very adept with handling the Indian forces as he did during the Kargil war. He was at that accused of beheading several Indian soldiers and also managed to escape from an Indian jail when he was captured.
The IB says that with the likes of Kashmiri the style of terror attacks would change completely. It will be more of Fidayeen styled strikes and he very rarely relies on bomb blasts to carry forward his fight. He is a specialist with commando styled strikes and his during his recruitment process he has been seen training the new cadres personally in this type of war fare and intelligence reports would suggest that he has at least 300 men at his disposal.