Srinagar: Indian intelligence officers and counterterrorism experts in Jammu and Kashmir police suspect that Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, an improvised explosive devices (IEDs) expert and former trainer at the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in Pakistan’s Balakot, is behind the use of vehicle-borne IEDs in the Valley.
Hindustan Times quoting counterterrorism experts said that Ghazi, an Afghan war veteran who belongs to Mansehra in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Balakot is also located, is currently in the Kashmir Valley training local JeM cadre in handling explosive devices.
Ghazi had personally launched Usman Haider alias Huzaifa, a nephew of Azhar’s, and other operatives from the Shakargarh sector in October 2018. Hyder was killed in Tral, Pulwama, on October 30.
Ghazi infiltrated into J&K on December 9 along with three other militants and set up an operational base in Pulwama, the report said. Ghazi is currently hiding in the Valley and is imparting training to local Kashmiris in IED fabrication using locally available explosive material including ammonium nitrate, counterterrorism experts said on condition of anonymity.
According to Kashmir police experts, militants are increasingly using vehicle-borne IEDs, or VIEDs, given the fact that the hardcore cadre strength of JeM has been culled to a mere 50-odd while the cadre strength of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, another Pakistan-based militant group, in Kashmir is around 30-40.
Senior J&K Police officers say that the use of VIEDs is reminiscent of the 2004-2005 period when the militant cadre strength of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Pakistan-based groups declined. The result was recourse to using vehicle-mounted IEDs like in Arihal on Monday.
Pakistan watchers in South Block believe that the Rawalpindi general headquarters is running with the hares and hunting with the hounds following the Balakot strike by the Indian Air Force, the report said.
According to them, a classic example of skulduggery on the part of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was evident in an anonymous caller tipping off the Indian high commission in Islamabad about an impending VIED blast before the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bhishek, Kyrgyzstan, this month and the triggering of such a device in Arihal after the completion of the summit.
“The whole idea is to get total deniability of Pak-based groups and ISI in attacks in the state. The so-called tip-off is to remove Islamabad from the list of suspects,” said a South Block official on condition of anonymity.