Washington, Aug. 22: A second crackdown on American militants operating in Kashmir and their supporters is under way in the US.
The new wave of arrests includes those of an Ivy League-trained physician in Boca Raton, Florida, a New York jazz musician and a para-medic in Maryland.
With 13 US soldiers dying in Afghanistan this month, four of them on Sunday, and India sharing intelligence with the Americans showing revived terrorist training in camps in Pakistan, the crackdown is expected to gather momentum in the coming weeks.
A few days ago, President George W. Bush spoke to General Pervez Musharraf on telephone for 25 minutes, when the two men discussed terrorism.
Although the White House put its usual spin about appreciating Musharraf’s commitment to fighting global terrorism, other sources said Bush was firm about the need to prevent a slip back to the days when Pakistan was the fountain head of terrorism across the border in Afghanistan.
The Maryland para-medic, Mahmud Faruq Brent, a US citizen who was arrested in New York a few days after Bush talked to Musharraf, is accused of supporting Lashkar-e-Toiba, which continues to be engaged in cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.
Brent, who has an alias of Mahmud al Mutazzim, has already been produced in a federal court in Manhattan. The authorities were led to him by telephone entries in the diary of the jazz musician, Tarik Shah, who was detained in an FBI sting operation.
Shah co-operated with the authorities and set up a meeting with Brent, which was taped on video and audio by the FBI. At that meeting, Brent spoke about the terrorist training he had received in Pakistan and about the mujahideen going across the border into Kashmir.
According to a criminal complaint filed in court, Shah, a martial arts expert, trained Brent in martial arts when the two men lived in Beacon in New York state in 2001.
The complaint accuses Brent of having aided terrorist organisations from early 2001 to May 2005. His passport shows Brent as having spent time in Pakistan from February to June 2002.
The Ivy League-trained doctor from Florida, Rafiq Sabir, is also an associate of Shah.
The first crackdown in the US against those aiding terrorism in Kashmir was last year. Several members of what has come to be known as the “Virginia Jihad Network”, were arrested and have been sentenced up to 65 years for actively supporting Lashkar-e-Toiba through terrorism training.
The leader of the network, Seifullah Chapman, a US citizen, has been linked to Shah through telephone entries with the latter.
According to court documents, Chapman also wrote a letter in support of a passport application by Brent in 2000.