Attacks in the first week of December have led the intelligence agencies based in Jammu and Kashmir to suspect that the banned outfits — Jaish-e-Mohamad and Harkut-ul-Mujahideen – might be attempting to re-establish a space for militant groups with a ‘global agenda’ instead of a Kashmir-centric one.
Army and special operation group personnel take positions during an encounter with militants in J&K’s Handwara district on Friday
Attacks in the first week of December have led the intelligence agencies based in Jammu and Kashmir to suspect that the banned outfits — Jaish-e-Mohamad and Harkut-ul-Mujahideen – might be attempting to re-establish a space for militant groups with a ‘global agenda’ instead of a Kashmir-centric one.While JeM claimed responsibility for an attack on Gorkha Rifles Camp in Tangdhar area, which resulted in the killing of a military contractor and three militants, HuM spokesperson Hassan Askaree, in a tele-statement to local news agency, paid ‘tributes’ to the militants slain in the Handwara and Poonch attacks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though senior intelligence officials said that “it is too soon to say that JeM and HuM are trying to regroup,” they did not deny the possibility of the latest attacks being carried out to reclaim lost ground in the valley. While JeM’s presence was last witnessed in 2013, when the group engaged security forces on multiple occasions, resulting in the killing of several of its top commanders, HuM was involved in a major Fidayeen attacks carried out in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in January, 2010.”Both the groups were very close to each other and, in fact, they worked in close co-ordination till 2007. However, HuM fighters in Sopore and Handwara area maintained their independence from JeM and carried out attacks till 2010,” said an official source.Counter-insurgency officials told dna that while one can see similarities in modus operandi of various Kashmir-based militant groups, the major differences lie in their goals.”Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have confined their goals to Kashmir. Most of its fighters advocate either Kashmir’s independence or a merger with Pakistan. However, the same cannot be said of JeM or HuM,” a senior counter-insurgency official said.”Groups with global jihad waned over a period of time. It is unlikely that global jihadists will gain territory in future. The reason LeT and HM are still operational is because of their focus on Kashmir,” the official added.JeM was established by Maulana Masood Azhar in the year 2000, after he was freed by the Indian government in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814. The group’s history is, however, not as elaborate as HuM which makes the December 4 Handwara attack quite significant.”JeM does not have more than 10-12 terrorists on ground. HuM is a different ball game altogether. The global network Hum possesses, gives it an edge over groups like Hizb and Lashkar whose primary goal continues to be Kashmir,” said a senior police official in J&K.”The recent attacks can also be seen as a reaction to advances of ISIS which is a sectarian terrorist force. In the past, we have seen several valley-based militant groups releasing anti-ISIS statements. Point in case is LeT’s statement against ISIS’s anti-Shia agenda,” the official added.HuM was originally formed in 1985 after breaking out from Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) in 1985.Towards the end of Soviet-Afghan war, the group entered Kashmiri politics, and in 1993 the group merged with HUJI to form Harkat-ul-Ansar under the leadership of Abdelkader Mokhtari, an Algerian commander who later came to be known for his participation in the Bosnian war. The group was banned in mid-90s after which it renamed itself as HuM. It was banned once again following the 9/11 twin tower attacks.