India's most wanted

Last Updated: Fri, May 03, 2019 10:49 hrs
Masood Azhar

New Delhi: A day after a huge diplomatic victory when the UN Security Council (UNSC) declared Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, the Indian government is almost ready with a revised list of most wanted individuals who are being sheltered or residing in Pakistan, said sources.

Several individuals such as Yasin Bhatkal who headed Indian Mujhaidheen or D Company ally Abu Salem or Chota Rajan and Abu Jundal or Abu Hamza aka Zaibuddin Ansari (one of the suspects in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks who was apparently arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities and then deported to India) are incarcerated in Indian jails.

As India's most wanted, the majority have taken refuge in Pakistan and are protectees of Pakistan ISI's C Wing which controls jehadi elements within the country.

An intelligence official, requesting anonymity, told IANS that a list has been handed over to Pakistan with fresh inputs related to the blacklisted individuals who have been involved here in several terror activities, acting as proxies for the Pakistan's terror factory.

India believes that all these men are hiding and are possibly being sheltered by ISI's C Wing within Pakistan. Earlier, India has handed several such lists to Pakistan that have 50 most-wanted criminals, which includes hijackers, militants, terrorists and even some Pakistan Army officers.

JeM chief Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi, Syed Salahuddin, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar are among the top terrorists named in the list of around 50 people.

The list also includes the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and ex-army officer, Illyas Kashmiri, who was tipped to lead Al-Qaeda since Osama bin Laden's death. Rumors surrounding Kashmiri's death have surfaced, reportedly killed in a drone strike in June 2011, but as with Abu Bakr al Baghdadi resurfacing the other day, nothing can be said with surety.

The top 50 list remains much the same as the one released by India last year, but the order has changed with a few new inclusions.

Of the list, top 10 individuals are:

1. Masood Azhar: The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday declared the Pakistan-based JeM chief as a global terrorist two-and-a-half months after his outfit carried out the ghastly terror attack in Kashmir's Pulwama that left 40 CRPF personnel dead. He has waged a war on India in the Kashmir Valley. He is the terrorist who the Indian Government was forced to free in December 1999 in order to release the passengers of Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC814), which had been hijacked and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. At that time Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban.

He founded the JeM with the help of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI in January 2000, soon after his release from an Indian jail in exchange for 166 hostages of the Indian Airlines plane which was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan during a flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi.

Since then, the outfit has carried out several terror attacks in India, including the one on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

The latest outrageous action by the outfit was in Pulwama on February 14, when a suicide bomber of JeM rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, killing 40 security personnel.2. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed: The LeT chief is the mastermind behind the November 26, 2008 Mumbai carnage in which over 160 people were killed and many more injured. A Pakistani court in 2017 had ordered his full release, 10 months after the government placed him under house arrest. The Pakistani government had previously arrested him a couple of times after international pressure. But the government has not yet brought criminal charges against him.

His charity organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), is believed to be a cover and front for LeT. Pakistan's actions against LeT have been tentative at best. It only declared LeT a banned outfit after the US labeled Lashkar a terrorist outfit in 2002. He is also known to make hate speeches in public against India. The US has offered $10 million bounty on his head.

3. Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi: Second in rank in the LeT hierarchy, Lakvhi is said to be in-charge of the outfit's recruitments and operations. If Saeed is the voice of the operations, then Lakhvi is believed to be the managing head of LeT. He is said to have detailed the attacks, overseen the recruitment and training of every terrorist involved in the Mumbai attacks. India has previously claimed that Lakhvi also oversaw the recruitment of Azam Cheema, who has been accused of being the mastermind in the 2006 bombing of the Mumbai rail network, which resulted in the death of more than 200 people. He is believed to be the one who recruited and trained the terrorists in the 26/11 attacks.

4. Syed Salahuddin: He heads Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a militant organisation based in Kashmir. The Pakistan-based HM chief wants Kashmir to unite with Pakistan. He allegedly has links with ISI and the Pakistani army. He is responsible for terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir. The National Investigative Agency (NIA) wants him badly.

5. Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar: The JeM terrorists based in Bhawalpur in Pakistan is wanted in January 2, 2016 terrorist attack at Indian Air Force Base at Pathankot in Punjab in which eight people were killed and 38 suffered injuries.

6. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar: He is one of the most feared criminals in India and heads the underworld operations of Mumbai. Son of a Maharashtra constable, Dawood is accused of being responsible for the most destructive bomb explosions in Indian history – the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 300 people and injured over 1,000 people.

It is also stated that he had a role in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. It is said that he was closely associated with Osama Bin Laden, the deceased chief of Al Qaeda. He was also a part of the spot fixing scandal in IPL. Other activities that Ibrahim has indulged in include counterfeiting Indian notes and dealing in drugs. He also hampers the economic and security interests of India every now and then. He is believed to be hiding in Karachi.

7. Ilyas Kashmiri: He heads Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, a militant outfit and is also an operative of Al Qaeda. He orchestrated the German Bakery blast in Pune and also had a role to play in the 26/11 attacks. He was responsible for the 2002 attack on the American Centre in Kolkata. He also organised the blasts that took place at Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and Bengaluru in 2008. It had been reported that he had died in 2011 during a US drone strike. However, the reports were denied later. His present status is unknown.

8. Sajid Mir: He came to India during 2005 in the guise of a cricket fan, but he was a commander of LeT. The visit was in preparation for the Mumbai attacks that followed in 2008. His visit kicked off a series of surveillance missions to India before David Headley, a Pakistani-American, was sent to do the recce.

As per information provided by Western intelligence sources, Mir is currently held captive in a safe house that is being operated by the ISI directorate. He is there along with Abdur Rehman Hashim, an erstwhile military officer, who had come with him to Delhi.

9. Chhota Shakeel: He is a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim and like his master, he is supposed to have played a major role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts. He had also purportedly attacked Chhota Rajan during September 2001 in Bangkok. After the death of Osama Bin Laden, he is supposed to have fled to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan.

10. Anees Ibrahim: He is the younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim and also one of his most trusted aides. He has participated in every criminal activity orchestrated by Dawood. He is the person who makes all the arrangements necessary to carry out his brother's work. He was shot in 2009 by members of an opponent gang. Ever since, not much is heard about him.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)