February 2008 News

Latram in command of Kashmir ultras in PoK

20 February 2008
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU: Nearly 3000 youths from different parts of the State, majority from Kashmir valley, are still held up in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), willingly or unwillingly, undergoing or imparting training in terrorist camps, according to official sources. The number of militants under training in Pakistan and PoK training camps would swell if the Pakistani and some other countries ultras are taken into account, they said. Mushtaq Latram, a top Kashmiri militant, formerly affiliated with Al-Umar outfit and presently working with Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) outfit’s chief commander Azhar Masood, has been made co- ordinator of all Kashmiri militants under training in PoK camps, sources said. Latram was among three militants freed by Indian Government in exchange of 189 hostages on board IC-814 flight, which was hijacked by the militants in December 1999 on way from Tribhuvan international airport in Kathmandu (Nepal) to New Delhi. Besides Latram, Moulana Azhar Masood and Omar Saeed Sheikh were two other militants freed in exchange of hostages. Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Salah-ud-Din, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Sayeed, JeM commanders Azhar Masood and Qazi Hussain, Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HUJI) commander Billal Ahmed and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) chief Wali Abdullah besides Mushtaq Latram remained the heads of their outfits training the militant cadre in different areas of PoK, sources said. These top militant leaders are frequent visitors to their training camps though they have 'outsourced' training to their 'close confidants' mainly the militants from Pakistan and Kashmir, who have been in the militancy for last six to eight years. According to sources, there was no dearth of 'raw material' in Pakistan to make militants. A number of youths in view of unemployment and poverty in rural areas of Pakistan readily agree to join militancy. Only need is to 'fine tune' them, a job easily done in the training camps, whose number was constantly going up instead of declining. The number of Pakistanis and militants of other countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Libiya and Gulf could be 'above 2000', though majority remained from Pakistan. Number of militants of the countries other than Pakistan in the training camps was 'around 100', sources said. They anticipated that infiltration attempts could increase after melting of snow in the areas falling along Line of Control (LoC) as Pakistan army, irrespective of change of guard in Islamabad, will try to push as many militants as possible into this side 'to maintain momentum in militancy', which was gradually on decline.

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