Top Lashkar Commander Killed
18 July 2007
New Delhi: Mohammad Khalid-ur-Rahman, a Pakistani national who played a core role in organising the Lashkar-e-Taiba's pan-India terror networks, was killed in a shootout with police and troops near Bhaderwah in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district on Wednesday. A resident of Bahawalpur in the Pakistani province of Punjab, Khalid-ur-Rahman served as divisional commander of the Lashkar's operations in the mountainous Doda province. Apart from executing a near-successful attempt on the life of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, he, it is believed, was the architect of plans to set up new Lashkar networks in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Khalid-ur-Rahman's elimination marks a major success for the Jammu and Kashmir police, who lost one of their most-decorated officers in the course of a year-long hunt for the terrorist. Deputy Superintendent of Police Shaily Singh was killed near Bhaderwah in May after Lashkar spies discovered that he was engaged in a covert surveillance operation directed against their commander. Intelligence sources say Khalid-ur- Rahman had ambitious plans to set up Lashkar cells in several States. While few details of the cells are available, at least seven Lashkar operatives are known to have been sent into Mumbai this March by a boat owned by a lieutenant of the Karachi-based mafioso Dawood Ibrahim Kaksar. Members of the group are believed to have dispersed in New Delhi, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Delhi police personnel, who participated in the communications-intelligence operation which led to the Bhaderwah encounter, recently detected large-scale movement of hawala funds intended to feed the Lashkar commander's expansion plans. The Doda police last month arrested local Congress activist Mohammad Jamal on charges of acting as courier for one such hawala transfer. Terror career Khalid-ur-Rahman was amongst the Lashkar's longest-serving Pakistani nationals. He is believed to have joined the organisation's campaign in the State just after the Kargil war, and helped to coordinate a string of fidayeen (suicide squad) strikes against military targets soon after. Later, he commanded the Lashkar units operating in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. Intelligence sources say Khalid-ur-Rahman was assigned charge of the Doda region in early 2006. He announced his arrival by organising the massacre of 19 villagers, including an eight-year-old girl, in the hamlet of Kulhand in April that year. Police offensive Khalid-ur-Rahman's efforts to establish the Lashkar as the principal terror group in the Doda region were, ironically, aided by a successful police offensive on its principal competitor. In October 2006, the police shot dead top Hizb ul-Mujahideen commander Noor Mohammad. Left without leadership, many of his lieutenants joined the Lashkar. With the help of these one-time Hizb operatives, Khalid-ur-Rahman mounted a number of high-profile operations. In April, he executed a near-successful attempt on Mr. Azad's life.