Ibrahim Dar, architect of Srinagar terror offensive shot dead
30 September 2005
Srinagar: Ibrahim Dar, a key Hizb-ul-Mujahideen operative who commanded the recent bombing offensive in Kashmir, was shot dead by the Jammu and Kashmir police late on Thursday. The architect of an alliance between Hizb and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) cadre in Srinagar, Dar organised a series of high-profile car bombings and suicide-squad attacks this year. Starting with the March 23 explosion in the Sanat Nagar suburb, which was designed to derail the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, Dar's terrorist cell executed attacks on the city's Passport Office, the Deputy Commissioner's Office and a military convoy near the well-known Burnhall School. Prominent field commander In recent months, Dar emerged as the Hizb's most prominent field commander in Jammu and Kashmir. Having joined the outfit in the early 1990s, after abandoning his studies for a Bachelor of Sciences degree, Dar was arrested for a 1996 murder. While in prison, he found a mentor in the senior Hizb commander, Hashim Javed Iqbal. Both obtained bail after six years and rejoined the organisation. Under Iqbal's tutelage, Dar allied with Srinagar-based elements of the LeT and al-Umar to form the Save Kashmir Movement (SKM). The SKM killed several National Conference cadre involved in the 2002 Assembly elections. Soon after, in March 2003, it eliminated the dissident Hizb commander, Abdul Majid Dar, who initiated talks with the Centre. The SKM carried out more attacks in 2004, including the killings of Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mohammad Amin Bhat and Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmad, the uncle of All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Dar's operatives also targeted politicians who fought this year's elections to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Resilient networks Although considerable resources were directed against Dar, the networks he built proved resilient. In 2003, police operations led to the arrest of several figures close to him, including key aides Feroze Ahmad Sheikh, Altaf Mir and Shamimullah Khan. Dar, however, escaped. In 2004, the police arrested Dar's mentor, Iqbal, but he evaded arrest. In May this year, authorities eliminated another of his close associates, Yusuf Sheikh, a terrorist involved in 72 killings. Sheikh acquired notoriety after he mailed to the police authorities a photograph of the severed head of Farooq Ahmad, a mole planted in the Hizb. NO TO PROCESSION: Police canecharge processionists at Tengpora Batamaloo who were protesting against the killing of Mohammad Ibrahim Dar. Key operative Dar's recent activities gave the security establishment in Srinagar considerable cause for concern. Just last week, The Hindu named him as one of two key Hizb leaders involved in efforts to escalate terrorist activity across the State. Using explosives fabricated from easily available chemicals, Dar's cell succeeded in defeating the counter-measures of the security forces. Aware, for example, that their mobile phone networks had been penetrated, members of the cell frequently changed instruments and SIM cards, turned on their phones only for brief periods at pre-decided times and communicated using codes, which made their conversations seem innocuous. Confusion within Hizb Sources involved in the operation against Dar said their investigation had cast interesting light on the confusion within the Hizb. Its recent emphasis on car-bomb attacks, they said, was the consequence of a shortage of weapons and cadre, the result of declining support from Pakistan and improved anti-infiltration measures. As a result, many Hizb cadre were eager to open lines of communication with New Delhi. However, the Muzaffarabad-based central organisation of the Hizb was afraid of the consequences of freewheeling negotiation — one reason it has not appointed an overall commander for the Kashmir Valley since the May 2004 elimination of Abdul Rashid Pir.