August 1999 News

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Arrests of LeT's operatives expose Lashkar's deep roots

19 August 1999
The Hindustan Times
By: Udayan Namboodiri

Ten operatives of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), including a Pakistani, have been sent to jail by the district court here over the past two days. They were rounded up in various parts of the country, taken to New Delhi for interrogation, and brought here under tight security.

Sources said this is the biggest crack-down on the LeT. The dreaded Pakistan-based militant group has set up several modules in India to spread terrorism.

On August 9, the module established by the blind and one-armed Maulvi Quari Salim was busted by the Assam police. Along with him, four others, including two Pakistanis, were arrested.

The latest module busted is believed to be set up by Islamuddin, an Indian. The police learnt about him from the disclosures made by Ilyas, a Pakistani held in Jammu about 10 days ago.

A series of raids conducted by the police in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh under the co-ordination of Intelligence Bureau led to eight more arrests. This particular module was in the process of formation. It was collecting arms and ammunition. So far, it has not been linked to any bomb blast or murder a source said.

Ilyas confessed he was an explosives expert. He told the police about the LeT's operation in India before he was killed while trying to escape.

The other Pakistani in this group is Aamir. He operated from Bhiwandi near Mumbai, the scene of a communal riot in 1984. Aamir procured a false birth certificate and a driving license in Maharashtra by claiming to be a resident of Mominpura.

Bhiwandi was considered an easy hunting ground by the LeT. Four of Aamir's recruits there have been held and brought to Jammu. But the main operative of this module is Islamuddin. He is from Punhana in Gurgaon and was in charge of a Madrassa. He was snared by the LeT when he went to Pakistan to raise funds for his school. He confessed having received Rs 50,000 against the assurance of providing a safe hideout to LeT operatives.

Another Madrassa raided by the police during this operation is the Ahle Hadis sect's counter in Okhla, New Delhi. Abdul Adal, a resident of Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh, was arrested. Adal is believed to be a key LeT functionary in the Capital.

His confessions led to at least two arrests in Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, the Let's founding figures are from the Ahle Hadis sect. This module was also active in Wester Uttar Pradesh. At least two operatives have been caught.

Mohammed Mustafa of Kerana in Muzaffarnagar was an arms harborer. His arrest led to the recovery of a pistol. A larger haul was from the house of Raisuddin, a quack in Doghat village.

Intelligence sources believe that the module has been functioning since July 1998. It has managed to create a modest network of hideouts and was stockpiling arms when Ilyas was caught.

The creation of modules like these threaten internal security a source said here. The arrest of Quari Salim's gang revealed the extent of LET's operation in Assam and West Bengal.

All those brought here were booked by the Samba police station, 32 km from Jammu. Their presence in this highly sensitive border region, already hit by militancy, has made it necessary that the police tighten security around their place of detention.

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