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Al-Qaeda sends SOS to Kashmiris

Al-Qaeda sends SOS to Kashmiris

Author: C R Jayachandran
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 13, 2003
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/articleshow?artid=231099

Pledging to support the "Kashmiri struggle", a cash- strapped al-Qaeda is approaching rich expatriate Kashmiris and Muslims in general who sympathise with the people of the valley.
Though al-Qaeda remains a formidable foe its cash flow has been reduced by two thirds as authorities world over have frozen some 1,440 accounts with $136.7 million in alleged terrorist fundings, including $36.6 million in the US.
"al-Qaeda is looking for new areas for its funding and with the group expanding its presence in Kashmir, the terror outfit is approaching Kashmiris and Muslims who oppose Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir, intelligence officials said.
According to intelligence reports shared with US intelligence agencies, Kashmir is witnessing a dangerous global investment in militancy which is giving a fillip to cross-border infiltration.
The total amount that comes in from international charities and support groups annually is estimated to be around four to five billion rupees.
Including India, 80 countries have created intelligence units to share information on terrorist financing. In US, according to reprots, three charities - the Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development - were shuttered for alleged sponsorship of al-Qaeda.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia has banned a 1,700-year-old religious practice of making cash collections in mosques and retail establishments. And it has been targetting some businessmen, now known as the "Jeddah merchants", who have allegedly provided large amounts of cash to al- Qaeda. It has also clamped down on its informal money-transfer system, hawalas.
Other countries in the region - including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Qatar - have also enacted regulations on these money transfers.
According to intelligence reports though money flow from Saudi Arabia has been plugged to a a great extent, there is still a great deal of support from other countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Gulf countries, European countries.


Title: Osama's boys play in Kashmir
Author: C R Jayachandran
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 13, 2003
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/articleshow?artid=230693

Kashmir has become a major regrouping base for al- Qaeda operatives even as thousands of other Islamic militants are assembled across the LoC on the Pakistani side waiting to infiltrate into the Indian side, intelligence officials said.
According to officials, Kashmir is important for the al-Qaeda as it hopes to improve its strategic position vis a vis the United States.
"Since US troops started smoking out al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, Kashmir has become invaluable as a training ground for the terrorist group. It now extensively conducts both military and terrorist training, including real-combat encounters with Indian security personnel and subversive activities," the officials said.
"Al-Qaeda has been active in leading the Islamic militancy in Kashmir since the group commands a great deal of authority in the Kashmiri and Pakistani radical Islamic movements and it has the capability to turn the events in troubled Valley in the direction it needs," officials said.
Indian army chief General Nirmal Chandra Vij on Saturday had also said operatives of the al-Qaeda terror network were active in Kashmir.
It is not the first time Indian officials have made the claim. Last year Defence Minister George Fernandes also said al-Qaeda was operating in Indian Kashmir.
According to sources though there is only a small number of full-time al- Qaeda members - 20 and 30 full-time people - and no units of their own, their strength is in their close links with the local Kashmiri militant groups. Some of the operatives are senior leaders and the rest are mid- level field members.
While al-Qaeda does not exclusively own a single training camp in Kashmir, its part-time members run the camps for local militant groups and closely cooperate with Pakistan-based terror outfits like the Harkat- ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Highly skilled and extensively trained, they lead incursions against Indians and continue running training programs for new recruits, officials said.
Al-Qaeda established a presence in Kashmir in its early years. The region always has served as al-Qaeda's recruitment base, specialised training ground and safe haven.
According to senior army officials 70 to 80 per cent of militants in Kashmir come from across the border and are foreigners. There are 85 rebel training camps in Pakistani territory, many of which were merged with training centres for the Pakistani army.
In September there were 28 attempts by Pakistan to push in rebels into India with Indian security forces killing 78 of the rebels officials said.
In October, Pakistan had made six such attempts and Indian troops had killed 65 rebels up until Saturday.

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