Kash­miri mil­i­tant named head of new Al Qaeda-linked group

The for­ma­tion of a new out­fit linked to Al Qaeda is an ide­o­log­i­cal shift: Po­lice chief

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Sri­na­gar, In­dia - A promi­nent young Kash­miri mil­i­tant has been named as the head of a new Al Qaeda-linked group in In­dia’s Jammu and Kash­mir, a move de­scribed by In­dian po­lice as an ‘ide­o­log­i­cal shift’ in the long-run­ning con­flict.

The dec­la­ra­tion, by an Al Qaeda-af­fil­i­ated pro­pa­ganda chan­nel, marks the first time the global ter­ror­ist group has pushed so far into Kash­mir, a restive re­gion di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan but claimed in full by both.

Zakir Musa, a 23 year old mil­i­tant based in Jammu and Kash­mir, was named leader of the new group by the Global Is­lamic Me­dia Front, a pro­pa­ganda or­gan­i­sa­tion linked to Al Qaeda.

The state­ment, pub­lished on Wed­nes­day by US mon­i­tor SITE In­tel­li­gence Group, said ‘the ji­had in Kash­mir had en­tered a stage of awak­en­ing’ and that the new move­ment would ‘lib­er­ate our home­land’.

More de­tails about the new group, ‘An­sar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind’, would be re­leased soon, the state­ment added.

For decades, armed groups in Kash­mir have waged an in­sur­gency fight­ing for in­de­pen­dence or a merger of the ter­ri­tory with Pak­istan.

Al-Qaeda es­tab­lished an In­dian chap­ter in Septem­ber 2014, but it has not gar­nered wide sup­port.

The an­nounce­ment of a new out­fit in Kash­mir linked to the global ex­trem­ist group was an ‘ide­o­log­i­cal shift’, said Kash­mir po­lice chief S. P. Vaid.

“Ear­lier, peo­ple were fight­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Vaid told AFP on Thurs­day.

“For us, who­ever picks up a gun is a ter­ror­ist. Musa is a ter- ror­ist. Or­gan­i­sa­tion doesn’t mat­ter. We’ll see, we’ll face it.”

Musa is a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure in Kash­mir, hav­ing ruf­fled feath­ers by crit­i­cis­ing top sep­a­ratist lead­ers for not pur­su­ing Shariah in the con­tested re­gion.

Sep­a­ratist groups have re­peat­edly stated that Al Qaeda and the Is­lamic State group

have no role in the Kash­miri self-de­ter­mi­na­tion move­ment, claim­ing the armed move­ment against In­dian oc­cu­pa­tion as ‘indige­nous’.

Pak­istan-based mil­i­tant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) said the an­nounce­ment was an In­dian con­spir­acy to la­bel Kash­mir’s free­dom strug­gle as ter­ror­ism.

LeT spokesman Mehmood Shah in state­ment is­sued late on Thurs­day said ‘groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS are be­ing brought up to la­bel the le­git­i­mate free­dom strug­gle as ter­ror­ism’.

Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials con­sider the young mil­i­tant’s fol­low­ing to be small.

Musa was un­der­stood to have suc­ceeded Burhan Wani as leader of Hizbul Mu­jahideen af­ter the rebel leader was shot dead by In­dian forces last July.

But Musa fell out with the mil­i­tant group, the largest in Kash­mir, over ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences.

Wani’s killing sparked months of wide­spread protests against In­dian rule and left nearly 100 civil­ians dead and thou­sands in­jured.


In­dian para­mil­i­tary troop­ers stand guard dur­ing a strike called by sep­a­ratists, in Sri­na­gar on July 25

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