ISKP’s Kashmiri militant arrested after 25 yrs in Afghanistan

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Srinagar: The militant arrested along with ISKP chief in Afghanistan has been identified as a resident of Nawa Kadal neighbourhood in Srinagar.

According to reports, Aijaz Ahanger had been a wanted-man in Jammu and Kashmir for more than two decades. Earlier, he was arrested once for militant links in mid-90s, but however was released.

Also known as Abu Usman Al Kashmiri, he disappeared soon after his release from Central Jail, travelling to Bangladesh from where they took a flight to Pakistan, Hindustan Times reported.

He was arrested early this month by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Kandahar, some 500 km from the capital city of Kabul.

According to the newspaper, in the early rounds of his questioning, Ahangar identified himself as Ali Mohammed from Islamabad. And it was taken at its face value.

The sequence of events that blew up his carefully-crafted cover is still not clear. Counter-terror operatives in Delhi and Kabul, however, told Hindustan Times that it was only much later that they discovered that the 4 April raid had also netted Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar, the 55-year-old chief recruiter of the Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir.

“It was a surprise,” acknowledged an Afghan watcher.

Aijaz Ahangar, born in Bugam, on the outskirts of Srinagar city, wasn’t the only one in his extended family to pick up the gun.

According to security agencies, his father-in-law Abdullah Ghazali aka 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, a group that was dominated by foreign mercenaries recruited from Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Ghazali was then 50.

Aijaz Ahangar married Ghazali’s daughter Rukshsana much later.

Abdullah Ghazali, now 80, was found murdered in February this year inside Jamia Masjid Ahl-e-Hadith at Maisuma near Lal Chowk, Srinagar’s business hub. His murder has been attributed to a factional clash within the local leadership of the Islamic religious movement Ahl-e-Hadith.

After a brief association with Al Qaeda, he joined ISIS. Aijaz Ahangar later joined the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, claims the report.

Aijaz Ahangar’s 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 in July 2019.

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