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Zakir Musa’s successor Lelhari bites the bullet: The terror market in Kashmir is less crowded now


New Delhi, Oct 23: The Indian security forces have achieved more success in the fight against terror in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the killing of Zakir Musa in May, the forces have now gunned down Hameed Lelhari, his successor. Lelhari along with two of his associates were killed in an encounter at Awantipora.

Zakir Masa’s successor Lelhari bites the bullet: The terror market in Kashmir is less crowded now

Lelhari was deadly and dangerous and had run the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind successfully after the death of Musa in May 2019.

Love, betrayal and solid intelligence: How Zakir Musa was gunned down

Like Musa, the 30-year-old Lelhari had a following. Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials tell OneIndia that his killing comes in the nick of time and is a very important development as he could have gone on to become a major menace.

The timing is also important and comes at a time when the AGH was looking to take over from the Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Valley. The killing clearly now indicates that the AGH is on the down path.

Zakir Musa, one of the most dangerous terrorists, who had broken away from the Hizbul Mujahideen to form the Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, an Al-Qaeda linked outfit in the Kashmir Valley was killed on May 23, 2019.

In an already crowded terror market in the Valley, both the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda have been fighting for some space. For the Al-Qaeda, Zakir Musa was the answer. He had denounced the Hizbul Mujahideen and went on to form his own outfit.

Like Burhan Wani, he too had been gaining a great amount of traction and turning out to be an immensely dangerous terrorist. A couple of months back, he was spotted at Punjab, which clearly signalled that he was trying to expand beyond Kashmir. He was determined, dangerous and held sway over a large number of youth, who were willing to join him.

The Al-Qaeda has made several unsuccessful attempts to set up shop in the sub-continent since 2014.

The outfit was dying a natural death, but the entry of Musa gave it a ray of hope.

Musa and his men were calling for attacks on the mainland in a bit to liberate Kashmir. Further, the outfit was also scouting for leftovers of the Indian Mujahideen in a bid to expand operations. In one video, the Al-Qaeda went on to say that if there were strikes in Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata, Kashmir would be automatically liberated.

An officer with the Intelligence Bureau tells OneIndia that Musa had already begun scouting for operatives outside Kashmir. He was also trying to enter into a tie-up with Khalistan groups and expand operations into Punjab as well.

Desperate times, desperate measures: De-coding Al-Qaeda's latest threat to Indian Army

The Al-Qaeda had made several failed attempts to set up shop in Kashmir before Musa decided to walk in. Although he may have not mustered up the desired numbers, he had made giant steps in trying to spread the ideology of the Al-Qaeda, which is also subscribed to by the Indian Mujahideen and Students Islamic Movement of India, which have a considerable presence in states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The IB officer says had Musa succeeded in striking big in the rest of India, it would trigger off a chain of events, which would have been hard to control. He was killed just in the nick of time and had that not happened, India would have been staring at a major problem.

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