ISI adopts fresh strategy to step-up violence in J&K
5 January 2003
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: In a two-pronged change of strategy, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has shifted several militant training camps from Pak-occupied- Kashmir (PoK) to Pakistani territory, and is re-organising the command structure of militant organisations it uses for terrorist strikes in India. Under pressure to stop cross-border terrorism into India, ISI has now moved several of the training camps from PoK since these had come to the notice of the international community. But some of the camps have been retained for use by foreign mercenaries as Islamabad uses the excuse that it has no control over them. Interrogation of a number of Pakistani militants captured by the Indian authorities, reveals that about 2300 militants from five camps in Muzaffarabad areas have just been moved to two camps at Taxila and Haripur in Islamabad-Peshawar area. These tactical changes have been accompanied by moves to restructure the United Jehad Council (UJC), an umberala group of 13 militant outfits, to enable ISI to have a tighter control over its running. Smaller outfits which have been irritants for ISI are being merged which will reduce the number of their representation in UJC from 13 to five. Although reducing the size of UJC had started, the ISI was unlikely to change its supremo Syed Salahuddin, according to an interrogation report of a militant which has been submitted to the Government, informed sources said here. The ISI has asked Al-Barq, Tehereek-e-Jehad, Islamic Front, 313 Brigade and the Kashmiri component of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen to merge and form Kashmir Liberation Organisation. However, there were differences on the name between Kashmiri militant leaders and ISI and the new name suggested by Kashmiris was Kashmir Freedom Force which would be led by Farooq Qureshi of Al Barq, the report said. Similarly Muslim Janbaz Force, Al Jehad Force, Al Fateh Force, Hizbullah and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen were being merged to form Kashmir Resistance Force and would be led by Ghulam Rasool Shah alias General Abdullah, it said. Interestingly Tehrek-ul-Mujahideen, which did not agree to merge as per the wishes of ISI, has been asked to fend for itself and it is reported that the outfit was getting close to Lashker-e-Toiba for training and Ahl-e-Hadis (Wahabi) organisations in Pakistan for financial support, the report said. The ISI has roped in its trusted lieutenant Sheikh Jamil-ur-Rehman in the UJC so that it could have a complete control over the amalgam. Meanwhile, amidst fears of war looming large over it in mid-2002 and growing international pressure, ISI was quick enough to shift militant camps from PoK to other places in the country with strict restrictions on the movements of Kashmiri militants. Meanwhile, the camps in PoK were shifted and located at Haripur, Taxila, Boi, Garhi Habibullah and Tarbela Gazi in Pakistan and the ISI imposed severe restrictions on them. According to the report, the militants of various outfits except Hizbul Mujahideen, were shifted to a closed factory on Haripur-Taxila road in Punjab province, the report said. It said that the factory had been taken over by the Pakistan Government on rent and handed over to ISI. There were about 500 militants in this camp which included Al-Barq (70 militants), Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (65), Tehereek-e-Jehad (70), Islamic Front (25), Tehereek-ul-Mujahideen (60), Muslim Janbaz Force, Al- Jehad and Al-Fateh (150 combined strength), Hizbullah (15), Al Umar (25), Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islamia (50) and JKLF (55). About of 2300 Hizbul Mujahideen cadres had been kept in Taxila camp and Haripur camps around Islamabad. The loyalists of Abdul Majid Dar were shifted to Boi camp located at a place atop a hill on the confluence of river Kaghan and river Jehlum on Muzzafarabad-Mansehra road in Pakistan. Another set of 300 to 400 militants had been lodged in Gari Habibullah camp and Tarbela Gazi camp in north west frontier province of Pakistan. Besides the mounting international pressure, ISIís reason for shifting the camps was to avoid their killings, in the eventuality of a conflict with India as this could have stengthened New Delhiís claim about Pakistan running militant camps in PoK. The report said that after May this year, when the militants were shifted to these camps in Pakistan, ISI imposed restrictions on the free movement of militants. 'They are not allowed to move out and those visiting them have to reach the camps in the night and leave before sun rise,' it said and added that the Kashmiri boys in the camps were desperate to return to their homes. The arrested militant had said that the Kashmiri boys were waiting for the rail or road traffic to re-open to come back, the report said. Speaking on the infiltration from across the border, the report said ISI was only launching detachments of foreign militants into the State as they were not sure of infiltrating Kashmir boys due to the fear that they might surrender once they crossed over. Instead, the ISI has now chosen to give a new assignment to the Kashmiri boys, that is of making them porters and guides for foreign militants.