Zeenat-ul-Islam likely to be first Kashmiri militant to head Lashkar-e-Taiba in Valley

After killing of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Kashmir chief Abu Ismail in an encounter with security forces, a local Kashmiri militant and an ‘IED expert’ Zeenat-ul-Islam is likely to be new operations chief.

Published: 17th September 2017 07:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2017 07:42 PM   |  A+A-

BSF personnel patrolling at the international border on the outskirts of Jammu. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  After killing of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Kashmir chief Abu Ismail in an encounter with security forces, a local Kashmiri militant and an ‘IED expert’ Zeenat-ul-Islam is likely to be new operations chief of the militant outfit in the State.

It would be for the first time that a Kashmiri militant would head Lashkar in the State.

Abu Ismail, who was mastermind of July 10 attack on Amarnath pilgrims and killed in an encounter in outskirts of Srinagar on last Thursday, had taken over as LeT’s Kashmir chief after killing of his predecessor Abu Dujana by security forces on August 1 this year. Abu Dujana had taken over as LeT Kashmir head after killing of Abu Qasim in 2015. Qasim was head of LeT in Kashmir for five years and had masterminded all the major militant attacks when he headed Lashkar. 

Police sources said after killing of Abu Ismail, 28-year-old Zeenat-ul-Islam has emerged as a front runner to take over as Lashkar command in the Valley.

Zeenat, who hails from Zainapora area of Shopian, had joined militancy in 2015.

Police sources said Zeenat is considered as an expert in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

They said he was arrested for in 2008 by police for militant links and booked under stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). After his release in 2011, he continued his study and completed Bachelor of Arts from a local college.

In 2015, he joined militancy and has been involved in many attacks on security forces including attack on army patrol party in Shopian in February this year in which three soldiers were killed, they said.

According to police sources, if Zeenat takes over as operations chief of LeT in Kashmir, it would be for first time after Lashkar joined militancy in the State that a Kashmiri would be leading the outfit in the State.

“All the previous Lashkar heads in Valley were foreigners, mostly Pakistanis. LeT usually relies on Pakistani militants for leadership role but this time they may be forced to choose Zeenat because they don’t have any experienced Pakistani militant in its ranks in the Valley now,” they said.

Zeenat, who is A++ category militant, figured in the list of 12 wanted militants issued by army in June this year.

Seven of the 12 wanted militants figuring in the list have been killed in three months in operation “All Out” launched by security forces against militants.

Now Zeenat along with Zakir Musa former Hizb commander and now heading Ansar Gazhwat-ul Hind, Al Qaeda's India branch; Reyaz Naikoo – Hizb Kashmir chief; Saddar Paddar another top commander of Hizb; Wasim Ahmad alias Osama of LeT  and Abu Hamas, a Pakistani militant of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in India are the  surviving five most wanted militants.

Also added to most wanted list is Khalid of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

“Khalid is a Pakistani militant and operates in north Kashmir,” police sources said.

They said he may be the brain behind the recent fidayeen attack on District Police Lines (DPL) Pulwama in which eight security men were killed and many others injured.

“After elimination of other top militant commanders, we will be using our resources now to track down rest of the wanted militants and eliminate him,” a security official said.

IG CRPF Ravideep Singh Sahi told New Indian Express that the operation “All Out” against militants will continue.

“We will continue to target militant leadership to create leadership vacuum among the militant groups,” he said.

Sahi said killing militant leadership was important because they incite, lure and motivate young boys to join militancy.

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