January 2002 News

New Lashkar chief is also Pakistani: Intelligence

6 January 2002
The Hindustan Times
H Joshi

Jammu: The new chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorist group is a Pakistani of Kashmiri origin and operates from the Pakistani town of Bahawalpur, according to intelligence officials here. After Abdul Wahid Kashmiri was designated the chief of Lashkar following the arrest of leader Hafeez Syed by Islamabad, intelligence agencies could find little on him in their records. Wahid was apparently appointed the new head to give a Kashmiri image to the group and thereby help Pakistan avoid drawing further flak from the US for harbouring terrorists. Pakistani police arrested Syed under pressure from the US that has banned Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad - the two groups India blames for the December attack on the Indian Parliament December 13. Intelligence sources say Wahid is operating from Bahawalpur in tandem with other top leaders, including Abul Ubaid, Abu Usman and Abul Thalla. Usman is the overall in-charge of the military operations of the group, Ubaid looks after operations in the Jammu region and Abu Thalla in Kashmir, they say. ''We don''t think there is any change,'' a senior officer told IANS on how the leadership change in Lashker would impact its functioning. For one, he said, Lashkar was the creation of Syed and he would not give up control so easily. ''The leadership change is a ploy,'' he argued. Two, the names now in circulation show that only code names have been changed and there is no other change in the group''s attitude, approach and strategy. The Laskhar is among the many terrorist groups that draw members mainly from Pakistan and Afghanistan and operate in Jammu and Kashmir.


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