March 1999 News

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Plot to Kill Sharif: Trail Leads to Harkat

3rd March 1999
The Hindu

LONDON: A Pakistani intelligence report has blamed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) funded Islamic mercenary group Harkat-ul Ansar for the recent plot to kill the Premier. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, media reports said here today.

Three Lashkar-e-Janghvi activists, arrested in connection with the plot to blow up a bridge near Raiwind on which Mr. Sharif's cavalcade was to pass, have close links with the Harkat-ul Ansar, active in Kashmir, the reports said.

The Pakistani paper. The News International quoting the secret report, forwarded to the Cabinet, said the three, had received training in Harkat camps at Khost near the Pak-Afghan border.

While the three were later mysteriously shot dead in custody, the chief of the Lashker-e-Janghvi, which had announced a booty on Sharif's head, has fled Pakistan and sought shelter in Afghan terrorist camps, the paper said.

In the report, Pakistan's leading intelligence agencies have admitted for the first time that "over 800 Pakistanis were under training at the khaled bin Waleed camp in Afghanistan, most of them linked to the fundamentalist Lashkar-e-Janghvi and the Shitte Sipaha-e-Sahaba.

In a grim reminder to the Government the report warned that the Lashkar, which had hitherto restricted its activities to Kashmir, was fast evolving sectarian and terrorist dimensions which can have an adverse impact on law and order in the country.

The intelligence report said the Harkat had "not only deepened involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan, but also evolved a foreign agenda as well, indicating disturbing possibilities which bode ill for the country.

Successive Pakistan governments had os far been denying that the mercenary group, linked by British and American media reports to the terrorist mastermind, Osma bin Laden, functioned from Muzzaffarabad in Pakistan, the paper said.

In fact, shortly after the U.S. air strikes on suspected terrorist training camps on the Pak-Afghan border in December, the Harkat chief, Maulana Fazul Rahman, appeared with heavily armed bodyguards in Islamabad to address the international media.

The U.S. State Department declared the Harkat-ul Ansar a terrorist organisation along with other groups such as the Hamas. Hizbollah, Al Jehad, LTTE and the Kudistan Worders Party (PKK) in 1997. In tis latest report on "Patterns of global terrorism" the State Department gave graphic details of the Harkat's terrorist operations in Kashmir and its links with Al Faran, the group that has held four Westerners hostages since 1995.

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