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Abu Dujana Audio Clip Shows Al Qaeda's Rising Footprint in Kashmir

If the audio clip of Arif Lelhari and Abu Dujana, presumably recorded minutes before their death, is genuine, then the strength of Al Qaeda’s Kashmir division may have been greatly undermined.

Suhas Munshi |

Updated:August 4, 2017, 5:47 PM IST
Abu Dujana Audio Clip Shows Al Qaeda's Rising Footprint in Kashmir
A photo of Al Qaeda commander Zakir Musa released just three days ago shows him with eight armed militants.
New Delhi: A new, yet to be verified, audio clip of Abu Dujana and Arif Lehari has started doing the rounds in the Valley, three days after they were killed in an encounter.

This audio clip, which was presumably recorded minutes before their death and has messages to Kashmiris, Lelhari’s family and to Zakir Musa, may be the first signs of a new chapter unfolding in Kashmiri militancy — the rise of Al Qaeda in Kashmir.

If the audio clip is genuine — it has piqued the attention of all security forces in Kashmir — then the strength of Al Qaeda’s Kashmir division may have been greatly undermined.

That’s because Arif Lehari can be heard in the audio swearing allegiance to Al Qaeda four times, along with Dujana, who was also believed to be working for the LeT.

The other interesting facet, which shows the changing militancy in Kashmir, is the request by local Kashmiri militant Lelhari who says that he doesn’t want to be wrapped in Pakistani flag, “wrap me in Tawheed [Islamic] flag.”

Excerpts of the transcript

Arif Lelhari [speaking in Kashmiri]: Father and mother, don’t fret over me…. We have been taken care of, wherever we are…. They (the hosts) did not do anything wrong.... At our burial, there should be an announcement that they are not harmed…. Do not wrap me in Pakistani flag…. My body should be wrapped in Tawheed flag.... Don’t send Dujana bhai’s body across (the border). Pray for me.

Abu Dujana [speaking in Urdu]: Brother, everything is fine…. Don’t be tense over me, I’m very happy…. We entered this house around 10:30-10:45 in the night and somebody saw us. This (being found out by security forces) is not the fault of the hosts…. We came into this house, we weren’t invited…. We appeal to Musa Bhai, don’t do them any wrong…

The message ends with Lelhari repeating four times, “We are with Al Qaeda.”

Notably, Lashkar, which doesn’t waste time in issuing statements, has still not released any statement three days after the death of the two militants who were believed to be working for the outfit.

Senior officers in police and the CRPF in Kashmir, when contacted by News18 about this audio clip, said they would get back. But one senior officer admitted that Al Qaeda’s capability in Kashmir was being greatly undermined.

“You can look at what’s come out of this audio clip with two perspectives. One is that Abu Dujana had lost favour with Lashkar and he knew that surviving in Kashmir without a support system was going to be impossible. This is why he knew he had no option but to join forces with Zakir Musa.”

The other perspective, the senior officer posted in Srinagar said “is to understand that the sentiment among the youth in the Valley is against one thing — status quo. Over time, a feeling has percolated down that everyone from Lashkar to Hizb to Hurriyat is compromised in one way or another. So this new element coming into picture — Al Qaeda — seems greatly interesting. They may not adhere or even understand Al Qaeda’s philosophy, but only this option now appeals to the potential militant recruits.”

The growing disaffection with Pakistan was one clear sign, the officer said. “Thousands turn up for funerals of these militants but you may have noticed that none of them is wrapped up in Pakistani flags anymore. Now, if there was some element of sympathy for Pakistan or the groups harboured there, somebody from the crowd would have objected. Nobody did. For last two weeks, we’ve observed that every militant is being wrapped in black flag. This is a sign of something new.”

According to another source, even for a foreign militant whose funeral has traditionally evinced little public sympathy, “hundreds turned up for Dujana’s funeral in Uri.”

Abu Dujana has been the longest surviving militant in Kashmir and is known to have single-handedly raised in the Valley a cadre for the Lashkar, which had been decimated by security forces in late 90s and early 2000s.

If Duajana, with all his knowhow, was actually working for Musa then the local police’s estimate of Al Qaeda’s penetration in Kashmir seems a great underestimation.

A day after Al Qaeda released a statement anointing Musa as their chief in Kashmir, the J&K Director General of police SP Vaid, had told reporters, “A terrorist is a terrorist. We are not bothered with all this.”

But photos of Musa released just three days ago shows him with at least eight armed militants. Notably, Musa has not posed in these photos holding a gun but a cane, looking at a distance, quite like Osama Bin Laden used to get photographed.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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