Is Lashkar leader dead? Police, intelligence differ

September 26th, 2008 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Is Abu al Qama - the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader in charge of terror operations in India who is also said to be the mentor of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) - alive?Investigators probing the bombings in Indian cities are in a fix as there are conflicting claims about whether al Qama is alive as well as on his possible whereabouts.

A section of the Jammu and Kashmir intelligence wing believes al Qama was gunned down in his hometown of Gujranwala in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir by unidentified gunmen six months ago.

But police forces in both Mumbai and Delhi maintain he is alive and well, controlling IM cadres that have claimed responsibility for the terror strikes in the country in the past two years.

A top Delhi Police official, insisting on anonymity, told IANS: “We have not received any official communication from any of the central intelligence agencies or the state police ever regarding the death of al Qama.”

“We cannot comment on what Jammu and Kashmir police have claimed in a newspaper article. But we have strong apprehensions about the credibility of the article. Our information is that he has gone into hiding,” the official added.

Highly placed sources told IANS that sleuths belonging to both Delhi and Mumbai Police have sufficient evidence to support that he was active and directing the IM’s operations.

According to their information, there has been an intriguing chain of command.

Al Qama contacted Aamir Reza, a Pakistan-based operative who coordinates activities with LeT and the Bangladesh-based terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI). Reza, in turn, got in touch with another militant, Roshan Khan alias Riyaz Bhatkal, allegedly one of the founding members of the IM.

Bhatkal then passed orders to his man and IM co-founder Mohammed Sadiq Sheikh to carry out strikes across India. Sadiq was arrested Wednesday by Mumbai Police along with four others for their involvement in terror attacks in the country.

Mumbai Police claimed it was Sadiq who controlled and directed Atif Ameen, said to be the mastermind behind the Delhi blasts. Atif was killed in a gun-battle with the police in south Delhi’s Jamia Nagar Sep 19.

Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police (Crime Branch) Rakesh Maria also maintained that al Qama passed on regular orders through Reza that were subsequently relayed to the IM to conduct terror strikes in the country.

There have been a string of blasts across India in cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur this year, killing around 150 people.

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