Days after the Taliban walked into Kabul and effectively took control of Afghanistan, the Indian security agencies in their assessment stated that Pakistan based terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad would intensify their efforts to infiltrate into Indian territory and carry out terror attacks.
Speaking about the heightened risk of threat from JeM and LeT, a government official, as quoted by the Hindu, said, “The primary aim of these terror outfits is to create trouble in Jammu and Kashmir. Over the years, they have extended their support to the Taliban to fight against foreign forces. JeM has been deploying senior commanders and trained cadres for Taliban operations. LeT has also been a major source of armed men fighting along with the Taliban and Haqqani Network. They share the same ideology.”
The official further warned that once the dust settles in Afghanistan, the terrorists belonging to the JeM and LeT fold would cast their evil eyes towards India. Among the hundreds of prisoners released from Afghan prisons, a large number of them belonged to LeT and JeM, the source said.
In an intelligence report accessed by Times Now, it was stated that Pakistan-based JeM and LeT supplied cadres to the Taliban for training their men to wage war in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The intelligence also threw light on the ISI involvement in handling and controlling the integrated command of LeT, JeM in assisting the Taliban to realise its goal. The security agencies fear that once the Americans and NATO forces depart Afghanistan, it would redeploy the JeM, LeT and even the Taliban terrorists to execute its nefarious designs in Kashmir and India.
The same intelligence report also highlighted the involvement of senior Lashkar-e-Taiba members, Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi mobilising funds for operations in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Earlier last week, it was reported that Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar was in Kandahar following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to congratulate the terror group over its victory and seek its support to foment terror in India.
Citing sources, a report published in India Today said Maulana Masood Azhar met Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the political committee. Azhar has reportedly asked for help from the Taliban to stir unrest in the Kashmir Valley and help JeM for its operations in the Indian Union Territory.
A report published in ANI also stated that leaders of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) met with the Talibanis in the 3rd week of August. While quoting senior Intelligence officials, the news agency reported that JeM sought the help of the Islamist organisation in ‘India-centric operations. The forcible takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, coupled with its recent meeting with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists, has raised concerns about cross-border terrorism. The Indian intelligence agencies are expecting an influx of terrorists from Pakistan into the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Taliban’s crucial role in securing the release of Masood Azhar who later formed Jaish-e-Muhammad
As such, the Taliban teaming up with the Jaish-e-Muhammad should not come as a surprise, given that the group had played a pivotal role in the formation of Masood Azhar’s terror outfit.
Twenty-one years ago, on December 24, 1999, the Indian Airlines IC 814 carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked by Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists. The airline was hijacked by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen with the active support and assistance of the Pakistan Army before landing at Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan. At that time, Kandahar was the base of the Taliban government and was headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The hijackers demanded the release of 35 terrorists from Indian prisons, including the dreaded terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar in addition to $200mn in cash. However, Ajit Doval was able to bring the numbers down to 3. On December 31, 1999, after seven days, the hostage crisis came to an end as India agreed to release three of the top terrorists including Masood Azhar. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.
After his release, Maulana Masood Azhar regrouped his terror organisation, renamed his terror outfit ‘Harkat-ul-Ansar’ to ‘Harkat-ul-Mujahideen’ (HuM). A year later, Maulana Azhar, with a renewed vigour, started a new outfit – ‘Jaish-e-Mohammed’ (JeM). Azhar was actively backed up by Pakistan Army, who provided all the assistance. Even the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and multiple Sunni sectarian organisations based in Pakistan helped Azhar to set up his new terror organisation.
JeM-LeT-Taliban share the same ideological roots: The Deobandi school of Sunni Islam
The myriad India-centric terror organisations in Pakistan working in cahoots with the Taliban not only extend tactical and strategic support to each other but also share the same ideological moorings: The Deobandi school of Sunni Islam.
Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad have both emerged from the radical Deobandi movement that has its roots in the UP town of Deoband. The two terror organisations use the extremist interpretation of Islam to draw fresh blood to their fold and continue their Islamic ‘jihad’ against India.
Similarly, the Taliban also draws its inspiration from the Deobandi movement. The Taliban’s association with the UP town of Deoband was also highlighted in an article published in the New York Times in 2002. The article titled “Indian town’s seed grew into the Taliban code” discussed how the ideology of radical Islamism that germinated in a town in Uttar Pradesh went on to influence the jihadist movement on the other side of the Durand Line, the line that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A recent article in the Guardian also characterised the Taliban as “employing a narrow interpretation of Islamic sharia law inspired by the Deobandi fundamentalist school”. Deobandi is an Islamic revivalist movement within Sunni Islam that formed around the Darul Uloom Islamic seminary in the town of Deoband. The seminary was founded in 1866 by Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, and several other figures. The Deobandi movement’s political wing, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, was founded in 1919.
It is alleged that Deobandi Islam is the most popular form of pedagogy in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and several prominent Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders have studied in Deobandi seminaries.
Even though the Taliban has held out an olive branch for India, there is no denying the fact that the Taliban has an ideological and tactical convergence with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Given the current dynamics and the Taliban’s reputation of reneging on its promises, it cannot be discounted that Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad might rope in the Taliban to further their terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir.