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September 18, 2009

Ilyas Kashmiri had planned to attack COAS


September 18, 2009

LAHORE: The reported death of the Ameer of the Azad Kashmir chapter of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI) Commander Ilyas Kashmiri in a US drone attack on September 7 has confirmed that the trouble-stricken Waziristan region has become the new battlefield for the Kashmiri militant groups, which are increasingly joining forces with the pro-Taliban elements to fight out the Nato troops from Afghanistan.

Ilyas Kashmiri was considered to be one of the most dangerous al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani commanders. No 4 on the Pakistani Ministry of Interior’s most-wanted list, Kashmiri was a veteran of the Kashmir Jihad who had spent several years in an Indian jail after being arrested from Jammu & Kashmir. While the Pakistan chapter of HUJI is led by Qari Saifullah Akhtar, its Azad Kashmir chapter, which is autonomous, was headed by Ilyas Kashmiri. He was arrested by the Pakistani authorities after the December 2003 twin suicide attacks on General Musharraf’s presidential cavalcade in Rawalpindi, but released in February 2004 due to lack of evidence. However, according to the Pakistani militant circles, Kashmiri was released upon the intervention of the United Jehad Council (UJC).

After being released, Kashmiri switched from the freedom struggle in Jammu Kashmir to the Taliban-led resistance against the Nato forces in Afghanistan and shifted his base to the Waziristan region to join hands with TTP. He had later established a training camp in the Razmak area of Waziristan and shifted most of his militants from his Kotli training camp in Azad Kashmir. In May 2009, Ilyas Kashmiri was accused of plotting the assassination of Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in collusion with al-Qaeda, largely because of the COAS’s lead role in the ongoing war against terrorism. General Kayani’s daily visits to a gymnasium were reportedly tracked by an al-Qaeda cell in Pakistan, and it was decided that he would be targeted by a suicide bomber as soon as he would step out

of his car. However, the plan could not be materialised after being leaked out to the intelligence agencies.

Hardly two few weeks before Ilyas was accused of conspiring to target Kayani, he was named in a charge-sheet filed by the Islamabad police in the November 2008 gruesome murder of Major General (retd) Amir Faisal Alvi, the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG).

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