First ever Al-Qaeda terrorist captured by Jammu police
23 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The first-ever terrorist of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network has landed into the custody of Jammu Police. And, with his arrest, police have unearthed a conspiracy, hatched by Al-Qaeda in assistance with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to kill all legislators in a fidayeen attack on the MLAs hostel at Indira Chowk in February next year when budget session of the Assembly was scheduled to be in progress. Ayub Ahmed alias Ayubi, a 25-year old resident of Kotli in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) has become the first Al-Qaeda terrorist to be arrested here and second in the country—the first being Afroz Ahmed, who was arrested by Mumbai Police recently. Recovery of a huge quantity of weaponry and explosives including deadly black RDX at the instance of Al-Qaeda terrorist from Srinagar indicated that the MLAs hostel was not just one of the targets of Laden’s outfit but several other vital installations including the State Legislature, Civil Secretariat and Ragunath temple were on hit- list of the outfit. A stunning disclosure made by Ayubi, who was arrested from an official quarter in Poonch House, was that he was being assisted in his task (of killing top political leadership in one go in the MLAs hostel) by a VIP and a protected person of Lolab, Srinagar. This VIP had contested last Assembly election in Srinagar and had since then been provided with a security cover. Police officials were tight-lipped over the arrest of first Al-Qaeda terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir saying ‘his (Ayubi’s) interrogation had reached a very crucial stage and it wouldn’t be possible to share all disclosures as it could lead to escape of Ayubi’s associates in J&K as well as New Delhi’. The officials, however, admitted the arrest of Ayub, which was initially made by Jammu Police but later he was handed over to Special Operations Group (SOG) Jammu for interrogation and arrest of his associates. Sources in the SOG Jammu told EXCELSIOR that one of their high level team was camping in New Delhi since Friday to catch hold of two or three associates of Ayub from the Union capital. Ayub has disclosed that Al-Qaeda had already spread its network in J&K, New Delhi, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh besides a couple of other Indian cities (whose names he couldn’t recall) much before the United States declared a war on Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the aftermath of attacks on World Trade Centre (WTC) and Pentagon. Arrests were expected to be made anytime, they said. According to sources, Ayub was picked up from an official quarter in Poonch House, Panjtirthi on basis of a ‘very specific information’ developed by Jammu Police about his infiltration into the City. Ayub had twice carried out a reconnaissance mission of the MLAs hostel where he alongwith his associates, who had to reach here a day before the strike, had to carry out a fidayeen attack in ending February to kill the legislators and their families. Ayub told his interrogators that Al-Qaeda had chosen the MLAs hostel for strike in ending February when almost all the legislators were scheduled to be present there (barring who had their own houses in Jammu) in view of budget session of the Assembly, which generally begins in mid-February. Sources said Ayub’s outfit was of the view that it might not be possible for the fidayeens (the suicide squad) to intrude into the Civil Secretariat for targeting the Assembly in view of a massive security ring thrown by police and para-military following October 1 attack on the Legislature in Srinagar. Keeping this in view, the terrorists had planned to attack the MLAs hostel and kill the legislators, staying there. The most stunning aspect in the entire conspiracy was involvement of a protected person Mushtaq Wani, a resident of Lolab, Srinagar. Wani had contested 1996 Assembly elections from Srinagar and since then he was enjoying a security cover from police. Wani was misusing his security cover to carry-out the anti-national activities and help Al-Qaeda network in executing the fidayeen attacks at vital installation. A PSO of Wani has reportedly been arrested but his identity couldn’t be ascertained immediately. He was being questioned by a team of the SOG. On clues given by Ayub, police parties from Jammu and SOG twice carried out raids in Srinagar and recovered a huge quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives including five AK-56 rifles and 14 kg RDX. Mushtaq Wani was also aware of the arms consignment, hidden by Al-Qaeda network, on outskirts of Srinagar City. Seized weaponry has since been brought here by the police teams. It was to be used by the terrorists in killing the political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said Ayub had undergone arms training early this year in a camp run by Osama bin Laden’s network in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Ayub said a number of Pakistani terrorists were undergoing training in Jalalabad then. At that time Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban, who had since been ousted and replaced by Hamid Karzai’s interim Government. Ayub said a couple of senior ISI officers had visited the camp during his training, indicating a nexus between Al-Qaeda and the ISI, a spy agency of Pakistan. Ayub had later infiltrated into Kashmir valley from the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara sector.