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Trail to Pakistan - India Today

Manoj Joshi, Sayantan Chakravarty, Rohit Parihar & Suresh Nandi ()
March 30, 1998

Title: Trail to Pakistan
Author: Manoj Joshi, Sayantan Chakravarty, Rohit Parihar & Suresh Nandi
Publication: India Today
Date: March 30, 1998

Arrests by the security forces provide a wealth of evidence
pointing to ISI's complicity in the recent wave of terrorist

They come across from Pakistan - mainly on moonless nights, when
the land is enveloped in inky darkness. Moving in twos and threes
through the serrated riverine terrain, some are trapped in
ambushes, others in hideouts in Jammu. Last month, the BSF killed
six infiltrators and captured 21; a number of others were caught
by the police.

Ghulam Abbas, son of a farmer in Jhang district in Pakistan, self-
proclaimed mujahid (holy warrior) and ISI agent, carried with him
a number of explosive devices, some placed inside tiffin boxes.
The job, Abbas told INDIA TODAY, was to "carry out blasts in
crowded places in Jammu, Punjab and Delhi". Over 60 blasts have
rocked various parts of the country (not counting insurgency-
ridden Northeast and Kashmir Valley) in the past year, with Delhi
accounting for 38, Coimbatore 13, Mumbai three and Jammu for the

Not all Ghulam Abbases get caught, though. Some sneak into Jammu
area, others cross over from the swampy Rann of Kutch and even
Nepal-a few of them with legal documents. Mohammed Kamran,
Mohammed Hussain and Badruddin, all Pakistani nationals arrested
for the blasts that rocked Delhi and surrounding areas in 1997,
walked across the poorly-policed Bangladesh border. This is the
route taken by another kind of subversive-the fundamentalist
preacher-cum-mujahid who indoctrinates disaffected Indian Muslims
to right the state. All trails finally lead to Pakistan where the
Army's shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) coordinates what
Indian officials call the "proxy war".

The terrorists prefer the powerful PETN or RDX but these leave
"fingerprints" leading to the manufacturer of the explosive. For
the random bombings, especially in Delhi where the aim is to
create a climate of fear and uncertainty, emphasis is on local
material. From his Delhi prison cell, Kamran told INDIA TODAY
that the terrorists call their bomb made of potassium chlorate-
sugar mixture ignited by acid the "Imam Sahib" and the potassium
chlorate-nitrobenzene combine the "Badam Rogan". Some rogan,
some humour.

Last week, in a display of monumental gall, Pakistan complained
to the United Nations and other big powers that India was
responsible for blasts in Pakistan. The Indian police, which have
caught most of the terrorists involved in blasts in India and
unravelled the Pakistan connection, were hardly amused.


The evidence collected from the dozens of Pakistanis and their
Indian collaborators caught by the police points unambiguously to
the ISI as the major agency behind a massive covert assault on
the country. Criminals and smugglers have been instrumental in
bringing in explosives and weapons. Roughly a tonne comes in each
year, but the Bombay blasts of 1993 led to the seizure of five
tonnes of RDX (two kg is enough for a powerful bomb). In 1994,
the police seized 10 tonnes of this explosive in Punjab. Aijaz
Rafiq, a petty criminal who was caught with 10 kg of RDX in
January 1997 from a Delhi suburb, travelled from Mumbai to Dubai
and then to Pakistan. But all his passport showed was the visit
to Dubai. In Lahore he was whisked past the immigration control
by ISI personnel to a training camp. The same method was used by
those who carried out the 1993 Bombay blasts.

The ISI's Joint Intelligence North and Miscellaneous directorates
run a massive anti-India operation. The main aim is to aid the
insurgency in Kashmir by spreading terror to other parts of the
country. Overall coordination is done by one Brigadier Farooq.
The Sialkot branch office, just a dozen or so kilometre away from
the border, 'runs' the agents who enter the Jammu area. US-
trained explosives specialists, Colonel Raja Sarwar Khan and
Major Ibrahim, run training camps where instructors often
fabricate the more sophisticated devices for the terrorists to
take across.

The ISI has many things going for it. All it has to do is to
provide training, coordination and sanctuary. Terrorist
volunteers come from the swelling ranks of zealots, mainly semi-
literate youth "educated" by pan-Islamic groups such as the
Markaz-dawa-ul-Irshad (MDI), the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA) and the
Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami. Accomplices are available in India
where the rising tide of communal polarisation in the '80s and
riots that claimed many Muslim lives have provided a pool of
alienated people who fall prey to ISI agent provocateurs.

Kashmir produces its own army of mujahids that enables the ISI to
"contract" part of its work to them. Beginning 1992, the ISI got
the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen led by Hilal Ahmed Baig to launch attacks
in places like Delhi as part of Kashmir's "liberation" struggle.
For added momentum, the ISI drafted Mushtaq 'Tiger' Memon and
Bilal Ahmed Baig for the job along with the services of ISI
"stations" in Bangladesh and Nepal.


Bilal Baig, who converted the Ikhwan to the Jammu and Kashmir
Islamic Front, and Mushtaq 'Tiger' Memon, the man behind the
Bombay blasts, arguably one of the world's deadliest acts of
urban terrorism, run the ISI's terrorist war against India from
"safe houses" in Rawalpindi. It was once coordinated from
Srinagar by Sajjad Abroad Kenoo, since killed, and Baig's sister
Farida, who was arrested after the bombing campaign in northern
India in 1995-96.

Multi-layered networks in Nepal, Bangladesh and in certain Indian
cities remain. Their core of Kashmiri militants is aided by a
contingent of pan-Islamic fanatics of the MDI and the HUA, both
headquartered in Pakistan but with acolytes in India and

Among their main "sub-contractors" in northern India is Abdul
Karim, a.k.a. 'Tunda', the 60-year-old chief coordinator of last
year's bombing campaign around Delhi. A resident of Pilkhua in
Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh-its dyeing and printing
industry offers easy access to some chemicals used for explosives-
Tunda belongs to the Jamaat Ahle-Hadis, a sect of ultra-orthodox
Muslims who support the MDI and its military arm, the Lashkar-e-
Taiba (LET). His chief aide, Mohammed Kamran, a Delhi resident
responsible for 23 of the 38 blasts that rocked the capital last
year, was arrested on February 28.

Abdul Matin, charged with the Jaipur stadium blast of January 26,
1996, is a resident of Sakhar in Sind and the son of an advocate.
After finishing BA first year, he joined the HUA. He infiltrated
into India in September 1994 to recruit Indians for the jehad. He
visited Deoband, Muzaffarnagar, Faizabad, Meerut, Agra and other
places for the purpose and among his first recruits was Salar,
who carried out the blasts in Jaipur and Dausa in Rajasthan.
Matin was arrested in May 1996. "Religion and politics were my
motivation," he says. Matin claims he does not know how to make
bombs but was trained to use them. "Supply was the job of a
different organ."

This is where couriers and organisers like Abdul Ghani alias
Asadullah, a Kashmiri militant, come in. He was sent to India in
April 1996 by the ISI to establish a base in Ahmedabad. His
group. coming through Nepal, supplied the explosives for the
Dausa and Delhi blasts of May 1996, but he was arrested the
following month by the Gujarat Police. This was kept a secret,
and after Asadullah cracked, he agreed to establish contact with
'Tiger'. But when he faxed his first message, "I am going to
Mumbai", he also added a word that alerted the ISI to plug that


On December 30, 1997, AT 5.30 p.m., Mohammed Husnain a.k.a. Abu
Husnain boarded a crowded bus going from the New Delhi railway
station towards the west Delhi locality of Nangloi, holding on
firmly to a zipped handbag with a three kg Nestle milk powder
tin. Inside that was a steel can, stuffed with explosives and
sand, a detonator, and a time-piece. Near Karol Bagh, "shivering
like a leaf, and feeling mighty scared of a power above", Husnain
alighted from the bus. But not before he had switched on the
circuit. Twenty minutes later, near the Punjabi Bagh crossing,
the bomb exploded, killing four and injuring 24.

Born at Jindraka in Pakistan Punjab's Okara district, he was
responsible for seven bomb blasts in and around Delhi in 1997.
Husnain, 28, quit a BA course in Karachi in the early 0s and
became involved in fundamentalist activities in Pakistan. A
motley group of preachers, young and old, harangued the youth to
take up arms against the oppressors of Muslim Kashmiris by
joining outfits like the LET and HUA. "We were constantly told
that we must stand up for the liberation of Kashmir," the
slightly built, five feet five inch tall Husnain told INDIA

He attended the Let's Daura-e-Am (regular training) camp with 400
others in mid-1992 in the hills of Afghanistan's Kunnar province.
Later, with a group of 25, he returned for the more rigorous
Daura-e-Khas (special training) which lasted 90 days. This
included rock-climbing, the use of pistols, light and heavy
machine guns, rocket launchers, the AK series rifles, grenades
and sniper shooting.

Full of religious zeal, Husnain agreed to go to Kashmir, which he
entered with 16 others as part of a group of Al Barq volunteers
in September 1995. As the group dispersed, someone also stole
his AK-47, two pistols, a rocket bomb and 250 rounds of
ammunition. When his colleagues accused him of selling them, he
ran away. He drifted to Delhi and began working as a preacher of
the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin and later Sadar Bazaar, where
he met Tunda and Kamran and established himself in Garhi, a
suburb in south Delhi. He was arrested earlier this month.


Husnain's senior partner and Tunda's main aide, Mohammed Kamran,
studied up to Class VII at the Mazrul Islam school in the Walled
City of Delhi and then went to Pakistan in l990 to join his
brother-in-law's medicine business in Karachi. Attracted to the
Ahle-Hadis sect, he soon became a member of the LET, ready to
fight on behalf of Indian Muslims who, according to the Lashkar
maulvis, are being ground by Hindu tyranny. After going through
Daura-c-Am and Daura-e-Khas, he was asked to go to Muridke in
Pakistan Punjab, the headquarters of the Markaz, where he met

In June 1996, Kamran, by now Tunda's most trusted hand, flew to
Dhaka from Lahore, stayed at Jatra Bari for a couple of days, and
entered India with two Pakistani nationals, Badruddin and
Abdullah, who were also arrested earlier this month. He met his
accomplices to be in small mosques close to Delhi's Jama Masjid
and they set up base at Pilkhua and Dhora Tanda, an Ahle-Hadis
stronghold in Bareilly. By late 1996, Kamran had joined his
mother at Teliwara and told everyone, "I am into the dye
business", which was, of course, merely a front for his deadly

Chander Prakash Aggarwal, 42, of Roopwas in Bharatpur, Rajasthan,
is accused of supplying 1,000 kg of dynamite to Abdul Matin's
gang. According to the police he was, apart from trading in
granite, selling dynamite illegally. He lives in an area, known
for stone quarrying. It is no secret that there are many people
here, as indeed elsewhere in the country, who sell dynamite to
criminals and terrorists. During a raid on his godown, huge
quantities of gelatin sticks, fuse wires and detonators were
seized. Aggarwal, who is on bail, denies the charges, claiming he
has been framed for unstated reasons by a co-accused. Aggarwal's
is not an isolated case. Others of the majority community even
some officials from the BSF and Customs- have been arrested for
aiding the smuggling of explosives and arms from Pakistan.

Kashmiri militants and Pakistanis say they are fighting a jehad
against India. What's more disturbing is that Indian Muslims are
being influenced by pan-Islamic propaganda to take up arms
against the state. 'Dr' Abdul Hamid and Pappu Farah of the glass
industry hub of Ferozabad, near Delhi, are two such persons
charged with helping Abdul Matin and Salar, as are Rais Beg of
Agra and Pappu alias Salim of Mathura. All of them now claim
innocence. Abdul Rehman, who stored Tunda's explosives at his
village in Dhora Tanda in Bareilly, and was also arrested on
March 8, belongs to the Jamaat Ahle Hadis.

There is no dearth of fanatics elsewhere. The Al Ummah group in
Coimbatore has shown what-they can do. Poverty and illiteracy
drives many Indian Muslims into the hands of fundamentalist
groups which, flush with funds from West Asia, run madrasahs
(religious schools) to teach them a brand of pan-Islamism that
goes against the grain of a plural tradition such as India's.
Unfortunately, events such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid
only seem to help their hardline views. "Before that," says a
police official in Delhi, "not too many Indian Muslims were
willing to take to violent means". Today, sadly, the situation
has changed.

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