Al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH) chief Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa who was killed by security forces in an encounter in South Kashmir’s Pulwama on Thursday, was tasked to put together a group comprising Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists, a top government official told The Hindu .
Musa, considered a “mini icon” in the Kashmir Valley after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in July 2016, was active in and around Pulwama.
“We closed in on him almost three-four times in the past couple of months, but had to step back as we were not 100% sure. Creating a hybrid group, by amalgamating the two terror groups — Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) — was a plan of Pakistan. Had it come through, he would have been a nuisance,” said the official. Both the Hizb and JeM have organisational backing from Pakistan.
Moves to Al-Qaeda
In May 2017, Musa split from the Hizb and pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda after he threatened “to decapitate and hang Hurriyat leaders” and warned against “calling Kashmir a political dispute but an Islamic one.” He floated the AGuH and relied on the network built by Wani, the official said.
“He was killed at Dadsara, barely 5-6 kms from Noorpoora, his village in Pulwama’s Tral. He barely stepped out of Pulwama — this was his base but he was trying to expand and planned attacks in Punjab last year,” said the official. Last year, two Kashmiri students enrolled in a college in Punjab’s Jalandhar were arrested for throwing four grenades at a police station in Maqsudan.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in its charge sheet said the conspiracy was hatched by Musa to “target security installations throughout the country.” NIA said the accused were cadres of AGuH, a “Kashmir based terrorist outfit with a Pan-Islamic ideology.”
Officials also claimed Musa was instrumental in instigating violent stone pelting incidents in Srinagar's Jama Masjid area after Friday prayers.
“In a major success against terrorism in South Kashmir @JmuKmrPolice & Security forces eliminated Zakir Rashid Bhat@Zakir Musa Chief Commander and Founder of #AnsarGazwatulHind; only surviving terrorist of erstwhile Burhan group,” the J&K police tweeted.
Police said that Musa was active from six years. “He was involved in number of terrorist activities. The terrorist was carrying rocket, grenade launchers, projectiles, huge ammunition and war like stores,” police said in a tweet.