Militants killed in Anantnag just a small gang of Islamic State-inspired men: J&K police officer

June 22, 2018

The four terrorists who were killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag in south Kashmir on Friday were inspired only by the ideology of the Islamic State (IS), similar to the case of such persons arrested over the years in Kerala, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh and unlike a Kashmiri terrorist group, a senior J&K police officer told The Hindu.

The eight or nine men in the “gang” are all former members of the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM), a Pakistan-backed terrorist group that is part of the United Jihad Council.

Mostly well-educated and belonging to urban settlements, the “gang” members had carried out grenade attacks on check posts and snatched weapons from security forces in the past, the police said. The TuM is headed by Jamil-ur-Rehman of Lajora in Pulwama.

S.P. Pani, Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir), said those killed on Friday were part of a “terrorist gang” and had been on the police radar for almost a year.

“This terrorist gang is as good as those in Hyderabad or Kerala. It is not a terrorist group as the infrastructure and hierarchy, the kind of logistical support such groups provide to their members are not there,” Mr. Pani said.

Another police official insisted there was no physical infrastructure of the IS in the Valley, and initially, the gang used the logistics provided by the TuM.

“The TuM is an outfit run by Pakistan. These men were originally part of it, but ideologically they were inspired by the IS. They used the TuM’s infrastructure initially and then switched allegiance to the IS,” the official said.

The police said Dawood Sofi, 33, alias Dawood Salafi, who was killed in the encounter on Friday, had posted a 14-minute video through a newly floated channel on Telegram, called Al Qaraar on December 24, last year. In the video Sofi, wearing a mask with the typical black IS flag in the background, and said the various terror outfits — Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad — were “proxies of the ISI”, which he trashed. “In the video, he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, but it is not sufficient to say it’s IS,” the official said.

On January 3, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir told the Rajya Sabha that “nothing has been established on the ground that Islamic State is operating in any part of Kashmir Valley.” The official said it was a small group of self-radicalised men. “There are two-three other suspects who are still on the run. At least two killed in the Anantnag encounter on Friday were engineers and from urban areas,” he said.

Since October 2017, Al Qaraar was engaged in fierce competition with Al Qaeda to promote its propaganda through social media.

A senior Home Ministry official said Al Qaraar had some arrangement with Amaq, the official channel of the IS, to carry its messages on the latter’s platform.

In February, Al Qaraar said the IS carried out two attacks in the Valley. The first they referred to was at Zakura on the outskirts of Srinagar on November 17, 2017, in which a police sub-inspector was killed.At the time, the TuM too claimed responsibility. The second attack was on February 25 when constable Farooq Ahmed Yatoo was killed while he was guarding the residence of separatist leader Fazal Haq Qureshi in Soura.

Source : The Hindu

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