Illyeas Kashmiri, a militant commander who fought in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s and is believed to have been killed in a recent US drone attack, was once rewarded by Pervez Musharraf for “slitting the throat” of an Indian Army officer in 2000, a media report said. Kashmiri, a commander of the Harkat-ul-Jehad al-Islami, was reportedly killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan last week.
He also served in the elite Special Service Group, a commando unit of the Army, and was deputed by the military to train Afghan mujahideen fighting the Russian Army in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, The News daily reported.
On February 26, 2000, Kashmiri reportedly conducted a guerrilla operation against the Indian army in Nakyal sector after crossing the LoC with 25 militants. He surrounded a bunker and threw grenades inside.
“He was able to kidnap an injured Indian officer whose throat he later slit, the report siad. Kashmiri came back to Pakistan with the head of the Indian officer and presented it to top army officials, including then army chief Gen Musharraf, who gave him a cash award of Rs lakh,” the report said. Pictures of Kashmiri with the head of the dead Indian officer in his hands were published in some Pakistani newspapers and h became very important among militants, the report said. Maulana Zahoor Ahmed Alvi of Jamia Muhammadia in Islamabad even issued a fatwa in support of slitting the throats of Indian Army officers. These incidents occured at a time when the then Corps Commander in Rawalpindi, Lt Gen Mehmood Ahmed, visited Kashmiri’s militant training camp at Kotli and “appreciated his frequent guerrilla actions against the Indian Army”, the report said.
A resident of Kotli area of Pakistan -administrated Kashmir, he was an expert in mines and lost an eye during the jehad in Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of the Russian Army from Afghanistan, Kashmiri militants. He joined the Kashmir chapter of Harkat-ul-Jehad al-Islami in 1991. After a few years, he developed differences with HuJi cheif Qari Saifullah Akhtar and created his own ‘313 Brigade’. He was once arrested by the Indian Army in Poonch area and held invarious jails for two years before he escaped by breaking out of prison.
During tensions along the Line of Control in 1998, Kashmiri was given the task of attacking Indian forces and carried out assaults many time, the report said.
Kashmiri’s honeymoon with the Army generals reportedly ended after the creation of Jaish-e-Mohammed. Gen Ahmad wanted Kashmiri to join the JeM and accept Maulana Masood Azhar as his leader but he refused to do so.
Source – South Asia (MidWeek), Tuesday, September 22-28, 2009, page 13, issue # 38