Al-Qaeda planning major strike on Police Headquarters
30 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: Osama bin Ladenís Al-Qaeda is planning its anti-India operations with a major strike on headquarters of Jammu & Kashmir Police. The dreaded militant organisation, which has already about 40 strategists and senior operatives in Kashmir valley under the command of one Mulla Abrar, is expecting ''a very important guest'' from Pakistan in near future. Preparations are said to be underway to strike in a big way, beginning from the Police Headquarters. The three-storeyed building, housing the offices of the Director General of Police and other senior Police officials, was earlier destroyed by Hizbul Mujahideen in January 1992. However, the whole plan initiated by Mulla Abrar has leaked in its embryonic stage and the State security agencies are working on a protective mechanism. Highly placed sources in J&K Police told EXCELSIOR that an effective mechanism had been devised to pre-empt and foil the possible suicide attack. Quoting field intelligence reports and militantsí radio intercepts, sources said that Mulla Abrar had recently called some contacts from Srinagar and given them the key assignment of conducting a survey of the Police Headquarters. He is said to be heading a group of 24 senior Al-Qaeda functionaries in the dense Rajwar forest area in Kupwara district. Mulla and his men had reportedly infiltrated into Bangus valley of Nowgam sector in January this year, weeks after losing their base in Afghanistan to the Americans. According to these sources, Mulla Abrar had asked his cadres to be prepared for receiving the ''very important guest'' from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Though the senior Police officials have no specific clue regarding the identity of Al- Qaedaís ''very important guest'', they are expecting men like Osama or the deposed Taliban supremo Mulla Omar. Presence of thin groups of Al- Qaeda and Taliban, speaking Arabic and Persian, has been established by Government agencies in Tral and Beerwah localities, besides Rajwar. The Rajwar forest cover, known for years as ''Chhotta Afghanistan'', has been a virgin bastion of foreign militants since 1994. While security forces have little presence in the vast north Kashmir belt, militants have had their masterstrokes in Rajwar. It was on Handwara-Zachaldara road that militants eliminated a Brigadier and a Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles, in a powerful landmine blast and firing, three years ago. Mulla Abrar, who has never ventured out of his ''liberated zone'', is said to have called three particular persons from Batmaloo area and assigned them with the task of conducting the reconnaissance survey around the Police Headquarters. They are said to be coordinating the pre-operation exercise with the help of some plants, either posted in Police Headquarters or having access to the fortress. A sum of Rs 3.00 Lakh is understood to have been given to the ''advance party'' for completing the survey. In 1992 too, militants had carried out the blast at Police Headquarters with the support and active involvement of some Police officials. Men like the former ''deputy chief'' of Hizbul Mujahideen, Ali Mohammad Dar alias Burhan-ud-din Hijazi, and a former ''intelligence chief'' of the outfit, Mamoon Rasheed, had served J&K Police for years before joining militancy. Two years later, BSF recovered 5 AK-47 rifles of Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen from a Police officialís vehicle at Police Station Shaheed Gunj. According to sources, the same Police officer is now holding a key posting in District Police Srinagar. Meanwhile, another militant outfitís radio intercepts have been indicating the possibility of a murderous attack on a senior Minister of Dr Farooq Abdullahís Cabinet in north Kashmir. Commanders based in Muzaffarabad and Kupwara have been exchanging directions and details of such an attack since last five weeks. Corps Commander and the Governor have discussed the ministerís ''increasing threat perception'' with the Chief Minister. Dr Abdullah is understood to have asked the Director General of Police, A K Suri, to take every possible care of the ministerís security. The State Government is perceptibly perturbed over the increasing demand of some ministersí movement during their campaigning for forthcoming Assembly elections. First time in the last five-and-a-half years of the National Conference Government, bulletproof vests are being provided to half-a-dozen senior ministers who top the militantsí hitlist on account of their overwhelming influence in their respective Assembly constituencies. Their frontal attacks on militants in public rallies are assessed as another major reason behind their threat perception.