A man who brought the Pakistani capital to a standstill last month by opening fire near parliament was trained in a LeT camp and helped recruit Indian youths for the banned terror group in the Middle East.
Malik Sikandar Hayat, 50, was arrested after he drove to a boulevard in the heart of Islamabad on August 15 and began firing with two locally made automatic weapons. Even before he was arrested, Pakistani media had reported his links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Hayat was motivated to join the LeT after watching a video made by the terror group while living in a Middle Eastern country in 1996. He receive “initial orientation training” at a LeT centre near a mosque in that country, The News daily quoted an intelligence report as saying.
Though the newspaper did not name the Middle Eastern country, several reports in the Pakistani media have said that Hayat lived in the UAE for many years.
The LeT centre was managed by two Pakistani nationals and Hayat met senior LeT leaders Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Abdul Rehman Makki and Rasheed Turrabi in 1996.
In 1998-99, Hayat came to Pakistan and did a three-month training at LeT’s Al-Aqsa Camp at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. At the time, the camp was run by Commander Saifullah Qasoori, currently based in Karachi.
Hayat visited the camp four to five times for short courses. After the training, he went back to the Middle Eastern country where he lived with his Arab wife, Fatima.
It was during this period that he again met Makki and other LeT activists. Hayat has confessed to Pakistani officials that his main assignment during those days was to recruit youths from India, arrange their travel to Muzaffarabad for training on fictitious identities and launch them back into India.
He was assisted by four travel agents, including Pakistani national Mahboob, who ran a travel agency. Abdul Razzaq from the Indian city of Hyderabad was the focal person who coordinated with Hayat for training and launching LeT activists.
Hayat claimed he and other cadres “launched 50 to 60 LeT activists into India” but did not disclose their identities.
The Pakistani intelligence report claimed Hayat double-crossed both the intelligence agencies of the Middle Eastern country and Pakistan and LeT.
While working with Middle Eastern intelligence operatives to identify LeT activists, Hayat never gave them pertinent information and continued to work for the terror group, the intelligence report said.
The report further said Hayat’s son Yousaf Al-Jasmi, a foreign national, got commando training in LeT’s Al Aqsa Camp in Muzaffarabad in 2002.
In 2001, Hayat was detained by authorities in the Middle Eastern country for involvement in suspicious activities during a swoop conducted after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US. He was arrested and held for almost three months before being deported to Pakistan.
The charges levelled against Hayat at that time included having connections with militant groups and seeking funding and support for them.
After returning to Pakistan, Hayat changed his name to Muhammad Sikandar and was facilitated in the change by Ashraf, who managed finances for the LeT at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa office near Yateem Khana in Lahore.
In 2003-04, Hayat re-entered the Middle Eastern country with his new name. “It was this period that I and Abdul Razzaq (Indian national, who was later arrested in Iran in 2006 on the information of some LeT activist), wanted all LeT people to move from Kashmir to Afghanistan and wage jihad against American forces,” Hayat was quoted as saying by the intelligence report.
“However, LeT leadership, under the influence of Pakistani Agencies, refused to do this. This disappointed me and I started to part my ways with LeT.”
In 2010, intelligence operatives of the Middle Eastern country told Hayat that his services were no longer required and he moved back to Pakistan with his second wife Kunwal and two minor children.