Saturday, November 6, 2010

What sanctions on Cheema mean

Sanctions against the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and more importantly targeting Azam Cheema ahead of the high profile visit by the US President, Barack Obama is a shot in arm for India according to Intelligence agencies in India.

According to sources in the Intelligence Bureau, Cheema’s name cropping up ahead of the Obama visit which is just a couple of hours away nails Pakistan’s lie that such a man was not involved in acts of terror against India. IB sources told that although this move by the US is very diplomatic in nature, it sure would help step up the pressure on Pakistan to hand over this man. Moreover it would help more in carrying out operations against his operatives who are present in large numbers in India and especially in the Mumbai area where he specializes.

Cheema’s name figures in all the dossiers that have been sent to Pakistan post 26/11. However Pakistan has been in denial about this man. The IB says that the role of this man first came to light during the train bombings of 2006. His name once again cropped up during the 26/11 attack and investigators claimed that he had played a major role in coordinating the intelligence for the Lashkar at the time of the attack.

Indian security agencies say that Cheema has been a big headache for them and every role that he donned in the Lashkar were aimed against India. He has been looking after India operations for the Lashkar since the past 15 years now and is extremely comfortable while carrying out operations especially in the Maharashtra region.

Cheema who goes by the name Babaji was born in East Pakistan in the year 1953. Ranked number 3 in the Lashkar, Cheema’s first attempt to carry out attacks in India was in the year 1998 when he tried carrying out a series of attacks at New Delhi. However this attack was foiled, but this did not deter him and he started working on setting up a new route to smuggle arms into India. He is known as the architect of the Nepal route and with the help of several Indian operatives. This was trhe same route which was used to smuggle in RDX which was finally used in the traian bombings. After this his role came to the forefront during the 26/11 attacks in which he donned the role of a coordinator.

Although he has been directed by the Lashkar to take a back seat in the wake of the pressure on him, he still continues to play an active part in the recruitments which is worrisome for India. In a recent meeting of the Lashkar leadership with the ISI Cheema was instructed to carry out the job of recruiting new cadres into the outfit. Today Cheema is based in the Bahawalpur camp of the Lashkar and he gives talks to new recruits. His role has been restricted to new recruits who will fight in Kashmir, IB sources say.

Security agencies say that if the US is really serious about nabbing him then it would help India a great deal. He continues to operate with ease and nabbing him would mean a major halt on recruitments of cadres who would carry out terror strikes in India. The more important thing is that a lot of the newer cadres swear by this man and his arrest would mean a blow to the Lashkar. In addition to this, he would also be able to provide information on the routes that are being used by his recruits to export terror into India.

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