ISJK terrorists killed in Anantnag had Amarnath Yatra in crosshairs?

NEW DELHI: Islamic State Jammu & Kashmir () is a rebadged version of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM), a radical Ahle Hadees affiliate which was active in the Valley since the early 90s but remained defunct for several years, according to sources in the central security establishment.

Dawood Ahmed Sofi, the ISJK chief killed along with three other terrorists in Anantnag on Friday, was affiliated with TuM until he decided to switch allegiance to the Islamic State, deeply influenced by its radical, pan-Islamist ideology.

ISJK, an outfit that J&K DGP SP Vaid claims had no more than 8-10 active fighters, of which 6 have been eliminated, was presumably planning an attack on the as the four slain terrorists were holed up in Khirram, a village along the pilgrimage route.

ISJK is believed to subscribe to the ‘global jihad‘ model propagated by IS. “There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between IS and its J&K affiliate, with the former allowing terror attacks executed by the latter to be claimed under ‘IS‘ name and ISJK drawing on IS popularity to make an impact on J&K youth,” said a home ministry official.

“However, IS ties with the J&K arm do not extend to sharing of resources, funding or logistics,” said the officer.

Incidentally, even as both the Centre and J&K government have shied away from acknowledging the growing influence/traction of IS among the Valley‘s youth, at least two slain ISJK terrorists – Mugees Ahmed Mir who killed a J&K police sub-inspector in Zakura last year and Eisa Fazili who killed police constable Farooq Ahmed Yatoo in February this year – were hailed on pro-IS media networks. Both had a history of association with TuM.

Not only TuM, but other small ultra-hardline outfits have also gained popularity in the Calley. One of the earliest ultra-hardline Kashmiri leaders was Abdul Qayoom Nazar, a long-serving local terrorist who broke ranks from Hizbul Mujahideen and floated Lashkar-e-Islam in 2015. Then followed the likes of Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa.

What has, however, kept these ultra-hardline elements in check is that they are diffused rather than being a cohesive unit. “While these self-motivated, independent units have been planning attacks, the lack of resources and local support has limited their capability,” said an observer.

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