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'Lashker commander furious with JuD'

'Lashker commander furious with JuD'

Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: January 15, 2009
URL: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx?Id=a52236d8-62b4-4970-8d81-46bef66cc1e5

Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the chief operational commander of the Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that India blames for the Mumbai mayhem, "is furious at the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) leadership's decision to publicly disown him in his hour of trial instead of trying to bail him out", a media report said on Thursday.

Quoting circles close to the Pakistani authorities involved in grilling Lakhvi to ascertain the LeT's involvement in the Mumbai attacks, The News said the commander is "extremely hurt" after a JuD spokesman distanced him and another LeT leader Zarar Shah from the organisation.

JuD spokesman Abdullah Muntazir had told an Indian media outlet that Lakhvi and Zarar, who India says planned and executed the Mumbai carnage "were never associated with the JuD, which has always been into charity work only".

The LeT had re-christened itself the JuD after the Pakistani government banned it in the wake of the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that India blamed on the terror group. The UN had last month proscribed the JuD, following which Lakhvi, Zarar and other LeT operatives were arrested.

The News quoted a former LeT office bearer who is now a part of the JuD as confirming that Lakhvi "was extremely upset over the U-turn taken by his former close associates and complains they had abandoned him at a time when he desperately needed their backing".

Lakhvi belongs to the Okara district of Punjab province. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone attacker captured during the Nov 26-29 Mumbai attacks that claimed more than 170 lives, including those of 26 foreigners, belongs to the same area.

Born Dec 30, 1960, Lakhvi is considered to be a close associate of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and has been named by Kasab as his trainer as well as the planner of the Mumbai attacks.

While Pakistan has already turned down an Indian demand for Lakhvi's extradition despite American pressure, the JuD "has deemed it fit to disown him", The News said.

In 1988, Lakhvi's brother-in-law Abu Abdur Rahman Sareehi, a Saudi national believed to be close to Osama bin Laden, founded in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar an organisation that recruited Afghan youths and Pakistanis from the Bajaur Agency to fight Soviet occupying troops.

Sareehi, according to The News, is believed to have contributed a hefty Rs.10 million in 1988 for constructing the LeT's Muridke headquarters, 30 km from Lahore, in Punjab province.

"The organisation flourished in Kunar and Bajaur areas as thousands of youths from Pakistan belonging to the Deobandi Salafi school of thought instantly joined its camps set up in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Paktia, both of which had a sizeable number of Ahle Hadith (Wahabi) followers of Islam, besides hundreds of Saudis and Afghans," the newspaper said.

With Lakhvi being one of the main trainers at the Kunar camp, the participation of the Lashkar cadres in the Afghan jihad helped its Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi and other LeT leaders win the trust of the Pakistani establishment.

"The insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, beginning in 1989, came at an appropriate time to provide an active battleground for the Lashkar fighters when its leadership was made to divert its attention from Afghanistan and devote itself to the jihad in Kashmir, where it gained fame," The News noted.

"As Lakhvi was subsequently made the supreme commander of the military operations in Jammu and Kashmir, his prime responsibility was to identify young men and indoctrinate them in jihad," it added.

In an April 1999 interview to an English daily, Lakhvi said: "We are extending our Mujahideen networks across India and preparing the Muslims of India against India. When they are ready, it will be the start of the break-up of India."

"Following the Pakistani withdrawal from the Kargil heights and the Nawaz-Clinton statement in Washington, it was important to boost the morale of the Kashmiri people... These fidayeen missions have been initiated to teach India a lesson as they were celebrating Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil. And let me tell you very clearly that our next target would be New Delhi," Lakhvi added.

The attack on the Indian parliament came two years later.

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