SRINAGAR: In mid-nineties, a man from Srinagar’s old city was arrested and put in Central Jail for his militant links. Released later, he disappeared. Almost 25 years later, he was caught by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Kandahar, some 500 km from capital Kabul earlier this month, reports Delhi based newspaper Hindustan Times.
Newspaper reports, the man, Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar, alias Abu Usman Al Kashmiri has been a wanted man in Jammu and Kashmir for more than two decades. He has reportedly travelled to Bangladesh after his release and later took a flight to Pakistan.
His arrest was a surprise. Initially, as per the reports, no one paid much attention because the forces caught him with Aslam Farooqui, the chief of the Islamic State ‘Khorasan Province’ who had claimed responsibility for the March 25 Kabul Gurdwara attack that killed nearly 27 worshippers.
The NDS had been focussed on their prize catch, Farooqui as Ajaz in the early rounds of his questioning, identified himself as Ali Mohammed from Islamabad. And it was taken at its face value.
Quoting the sources in Delhi and Kabul newspaper reports that it was only much later that they discovered that the April 4 raid had also netted Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar, the 55-year-old chief recruiter of the Islamic State Jammu & Kashmir.“It was a surprise,” acknowledged an Afghan watcher.
Born in Bugam on the outskirts of Srinagar city, Ajaz reports suggest he was not the only one in his extended family to pick up the gun.
According to security agencies quoted by the newspaper, his father-in-law Abdullah Ghazali alias, Abdul Ghani Dar had been a Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and had played a role in the formation of the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen in 1990. Ghazali was then 50.
Pertinently, Ghazali, a resident of the Russu area of Budgam district was found dead in February this year inside Jamia Masjid Ahl-e-Hadith at Maisuma, Lal Chowk. He had injury marks on the head.
In Pakistan, Aijaz, newspaper reports were initially settled in Islamabad by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. In 2008, according to intelligence reports, he also married Aiysha, a resident of Pakistan administered Kashmir.
Later his family was relocated to Miranshah area of Waziristan near the Afghan border. After a brief association with Al Qaeda, he joined ISIS. Aijaz reports said later joined the Islamic State-Khorasan Province. His son, Abdullah Umais also joined the fighting in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and was killed a few years ago.
His son-in-law, Huzafa-al-Bakistani, a top online recruiter of ISKP and later the IS affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir, was killed in a US drone attack in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on July 18, 2019. A Kerala man, Muhammed Muhasin, was killed in the same bombing.