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December 30, 2014

Lakhvi has a passion for Jihad against India

 
December 30, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Passion for Jihad against India has been the defining feature of the life of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the chief operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), whose six-year-long detention will come to an end in 24 hours after the Islamabad High Court suspended his confinement under 3-Public Maintenance Order (3-MPO).
Lakhvi, who was arrested from the Muzaffarabad headquarters of the LeT in December 2008 for allegedly masterminding the Mumbai attacks, was bailed out by Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi of the Islamabad Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) on December 18, on the basis of lack of evidence. But before Lakhvi could be released from the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, the government imprisoned him for 30 days under the MPO besides announcing that it would challenge Lakhvi’s bail orders. However, before the government could do that, Lakhvi approached the Islamabad High Court and challenged his detention orders under the 3-MPO. Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi had sought a detailed reply from the Federation on December 29 to justify Lakhvi’s detention. But ironically, no one appeared on behalf of the Federation of Pakistan, thus prompting the judge to suspend Lakhvi’s detention under 3-MPO.
The likely release of Zaki Lakhvi has greatly angered the Indian government, with the Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoning the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit and the Indian Mission taking it up in Islamabad with the Pakistan Foreign Office. “The Indian officials have expressed strong concern at the lack of effective action by the Pakistani prosecuting authorities after the Anti-Terrorism Court ordered the release of an internationally designated terrorist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, whose involvement in the Mumbai terror attack is well known,” India’s foreign office spokesperson in New Delhi said in a statement.
The Indian authorities are agitated mainly because of the fact that Lakhvi was charged with masterminding and abetting the

2008 Mumbai attack, which killed over 160 people, including foreigners. In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, it was Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, who had first named Lakhvi as his trainer and the chief plotter of the attacks. On December 7, 2008, groaning under mounting international pressure, the Pakistani authorities arrested Lakhvi along with 12 other LeT operatives from the Muzaffarabad headquarters of the LeT, situated in the Shawai Nullah area. Yet, despite an Indian demand for his immediate extradition, the Pakistan government refused to hand over any of them to India, saying it would hold the trial of the alleged planners on its own since all those arrested were Pakistani citizens.
The importance of Lakhvi to the LeT’s Jihadi network comes from the awe he inspires among the LeT cadres which describe him as ‘imam’ of the Jihadis due to his family’s personal contribution to the ‘cause’. As a matter of fact, two of his sons had lost their lives in Jammu Kashmir while fighting against the Indian security forces. Lakhvi’s two sons — Abu Qatal and Abu Qasim — were gunned down in the Bandipora area of Jammu Kashmir by the Indian security forces in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Before his arrest in 2008, Lakhvi’s wife used to look after the widows and orphans of the LeT fighters who lost their lives, in addition to other charity work due to which the militant group has succeeded in building a loyal cadre.
Lakhvi was born on 30 December 1960 to Hafiz Azizur Rahman, a cleric linked to the neoconservative Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (Wahabi). His family used to live in Chak 18L of Rainala Khurd area in the Okara district of Punjab — the same district where Ajmal Kasab grew up. Lakhvi’s stock in the shadowy world of Jihad zoomed through a marriage between his sister and Abu Abdur Rahman Sareehi, a well-off Saudi national who was reportedly considered to be a trusted lieutenant of the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Sareehi had contributed a hefty amount of Rs10 million in 1988 for the construction of the Muridke headquarters of the LeT which at that time was called the Markaz Daawa Wal Irshad.
The same year (1988), Abu Sareehi founded an organisation in the Afghan Kunar Valley which recruited the Afghan and the Pakistani youths in the Bajaur Agency on the Pak-Afghan border, with the prime aim of fighting against the Russian occupation forces in Afghanistan. The organisation flourished in the Kunar Valley and in the Bajaur tribal agency as hundreds of youths from Pakistan belonging to the Salafi school of thought instantly joined the organisation, besides hundreds of Afghans. Lakhvi was one of the main trainers at the Kunar camp of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen who eventually became the chief operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba upon its formal launching in 1991. It was essentially the outbreak of insurgency in Kashmir that indeed prompted the LeT to bring the huge the Sareehi network of Wahabi Mujahideen under its patronage and make Jammu & Kashmir their new battleground.
Being the supreme commander of the military operations in Jammu and Kashmir, Lakhvi’s prime responsibility was to identify young men, indoctrinate them in Jihad and train them for specific missions. On April 7, 1999, almost four weeks before the first shots of the Indo-Pak Kargil conflict rang out, Lakhvi had stated in a newspaper interview that yet another Indo-Pak war was already imminent: “We are extending our Mujahideen networks across India and have carried out attacks on Indian installations successfully in Himachal Pradesh last year. To set up Mujahideen networks across India is our one target. We are preparing the Muslims of India and when they are ready, it will be the start of the disintegration of India.”
On January 26, 2000, at the three-day annual LeT congregation held at its Muridke headquarters, 30 kilometers from Lahore, Lakhvi declared that the next target of the Lashkar fighters would be New Delhi. “India has occupied Kashmir oppressively and it is our responsibility to liberate the Kashmiri Muslims from the aggression of Indian Army.” He then justified the launching of Fidayeen missions in Jammu and Kashmir in these words: “Following the Pakistani withdrawal from the Kargil heights and the Nawaz-Clinton joint statement in Washington, it was important to boost the morale of the Kashmiri people as well as the freedom fighters. Therefore, Fidayeen missions have been launched to teach India a lesson which was celebrating the Pakistani withdrawal from the Kargil heights. And let me tell you very clearly that our next target would be none other than New Delhi.”
On December 13, 2001, the Indian Parliament in New Delhi was attacked, thus raising the grim specter of war in the Subcontinent. But the parliament attack and mounting international pressure prompted then President Pervez Musharraf to ban the Lashkar-e-Taiba. On December 24, 2001, hardly 10 days after the parliament attack, Hafiz Saeed addressed a press conference in Lahore, resigned as the LeT chief and announced the launching of an Islamic charity organisation with the name of Jamaatul Daawa. He had further named Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri as his successor, while retaining Lakhvi as the LeT’s supreme operational commander.


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