HuM, Al-Qaeda elite fighters active in Kashmir
29 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior
London: Members of banned Harkat ul Mujaheedin and large groups of Al Qaeda’s elite fighters operate with relative impunity in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and are joining militants fighting in Jammu and Kashmir, media reports here said today. Members of several Pakistani ''Jihad'' groups use a road leading to the Line of Control near Kupwara that is fast being paved by the Pakistani military engineers with the help of local villagers, the daily Telegraph said in a report from PoK. ''What is just as worrying to officials in London and Washington, however, are reports that large groups of Al-Qaeda’s elite fighters have entered the fray,'' it said. According to the newspaper, a week-long investigation by it provided ample evidence that Osama bin Laden’s network and an array of affiliates are prospering amid unflagging popular support inside Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. ''Hundreds of Arab fighters have entered Kashmir in the last several months. In some cases they left their new four-wheel-drive vehicles with us and rode further into Kashmir with our trucks,'' the newspaper quoted a jeep driver who regularly plies the slippery dirt tracks above the Astore river. ''Despite Pakistan’s vows to crack down on Islamic extremist, the Harkat and other Islamic extremists continue to operate openly,'' the report said. According to the report, villagers near the Nanga Parbat mountain said Al-Qaeda fighters preached to them in their bazaars about the need for self-sacrifice and struggle. It also quoted regional chief of Pakistan’s ISI Mohammad Muslim denying that Al-Qaeda was operating in Kashmir.