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Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack’s key conspirator Azam Cheema dies in Pakistan

In addition to training recruits, Cheema was involved in the planning and execution of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Azam Cheema, a senior commander of the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and a key conspirator in the 2008 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, has died in Pakistan’s Faisalabad city from a heart attack. His funeral was reportedly arranged in Malkhanwala.

Azam Cheema joined the LeT in 2008 as an operation adviser, and later took on the role of commander. Afterwards, the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.

According to the authorities, the 70-year-old was also the mastermind of the 2006 Mumbai train bombings that left 188 people dead with more than 800 injured. The government was on the lookout for him because he provided training to the terrorists who carried out the 26/11 terror attacks that resulted in 166 fatalities, including 18 security personnel, and wounded over 300 individuals.

The United States Treasury Department started action against Azam Cheema and targeted LeT’s financial networks in 2010. The department released a statement asserting that he had participated in the terror group’s training programs, especially bomb-making and skills required to infiltrate India.

Azam Cheema was a “key commander” in LeT’s operations and had connections to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.

According to intelligence sources, he lived with his wife and two children in Bahawalpur, during the early 2000s. A source stated, “He was often spotted moving around in a Land Cruiser with six bodyguards. It was Cheema who had once brought former ISI chief general Hamid Gul, Brigadier Riyaz and Colonel Rafiq to brainwash jehadis undergoing arms training in the Bahawalpur camp. He would occasionally visit Karachi and Lahore training camps as well.”

He was an Afghan war veteran who was well-versed in reading maps, particularly those pertaining to India. “He taught the jihadis to spot vital installations of India on the map. He would also instruct LeT terrorists across India via satellite phone in the mid-2000s,” revealed another source.

When Azam Cheema was selected as an operations adviser to LeT’s top functionary Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi in 2008, he was serving as the LeT commander for Bahawalpur in Pakistan. In addition to training recruits, Cheema was involved in the planning and execution of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Notably, multiple terrorists have died in Pakistan in the past few months. On the intervening night of 2nd and 3rd December, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Hanzla Adnan was shot by unknown gunmen near his residence in Karachi. He was then secretly taken to a hospital there by the Pakistani Army where he succumbed to his injuries and died on 5th December.

Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist and recruiter Habibullah was shot dead by unknown gunmen on the evening of 17th December. They reportedly fired at him in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tank district. He was involved in the Pulwama and Uri terror attacks.

Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist Shahid Latif was killed by unidentified gunmen on 11th October in Sialkot, Pakistan. He was a JeM handler and the mastermind of the 2016 terrorist assault in Pathankot. Shahid Latif was among the most wanted terrorists in India and was sought in a Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

On 8th September, some anonymous assailants opened fire inside the Al-Qudus mosque in Rawalkot, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and murdered a top terrorist leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). He was identified as Riyaz Ahmad alias Abu Qasim.

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Searched termsMumbai terror attacks
OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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