Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed plans to carry out simultaneous terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir on May 11, according to an intelligence alert issued to security forces in the Union Territory.
“The information is that these attacks could be suicide missions and target bases of the army and paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” a top counter-terror official in national capital Delhi told Hindustan Times on Saturday.
The planned terror strikes come against the backdrop of a spectacular performance by counter-terror teams in Jammu and Kashmir that eliminated 28 terrorists in April alone. The security action had prompted a sharp reaction from Islamabad’s foreign ministry recently, protesting the killing of what it had described as the killing of 29 innocents.
Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar, who has been reported to be terminally ill, has been out of action for several months. His younger brother, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar has been running the show at the terror factory and is reported to have been personally involved in planning the multiple terror strikes, he said.
On Saturday, according to information available with Indian intelligence agencies, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar also had a scheduled meeting with officials of Inter Services Intelligence at Rawalpindi on the outskirts of Pakistan capital Islamabad.
“I would surmise that Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar’s meeting with his handlers is about the May 11 terror strikes,” a senior security official in Kashmir said.
He said the choice of May 11 for the strikes is designed to coincide with the 17th day of Ramadan when the Battle of Badr was fought and won by a few hundred soldiers in Saudi Arabia. In Islamic history, it is seen as a huge victory in the early days of Islam and a turning point.
Intelligence officials said the May 11 strike being planned by the Jaish was expected in view of a spike in infiltration attempts backed by the Pakistan army during the last one month. Many of them were blocked by soldiers of the Indian army and paramilitary forces. Some did succeed.
It is estimated that nearly 25-30 Jaish terrorists had managed to sneak into Kashmir valley with help from the Pakistan army.
Intelligence reports indicate that more than 70 Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists are likely to attempt infiltration over the next few weeks, many of them from the Leepa Valley.
“Our analysis has indicated that there is often a correlation between spikes in cross-border firing and infiltration attempts at this time of the year,” an army official said, adding that the number of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army is expected to increase further.
The officer said it was impossible that these infiltration attempts would not have the active support of the Pakistan army. For one, Pakistan too is in a lockdown mode and there are restrictions on movement due to Covid-19. Secondly, he said, the topography of the region was such that even terrorists would need a break when they reach the line of control before beginning the difficult journey into Kashmir. That is where the launch pads come in.
Mufti Asghar Kashmiri oversees infiltration
Intelligence officials said Jaish’s de facto chief Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar has tasked Afghan war veteran Mufti Asghar Kashmiri to oversee the operational aspects of the infiltration from Leepa valley.
Kashmiri is also the chief commander of Jaish’s Kashmir operations and is the so-called Amir of JeM’s Askari (or military wing) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Kashmiri, joined Jaish from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and is also responsible for the Jaish’s terror camps in Afghanistan that also train recruits to fight in Kashmir.