New Delhi, Dec. 19: The arrest of three Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives hailing from Manipur this morning has confirmed what was hitherto mere speculation — that the Pakistan-based outfit has set its eyes on the Northeast.
On specific information today, Delhi police arrested Salman Khurshid Kori, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Akbar Hussain from near the Red Fort. Two kilos of RDX, two detonators and a hand grenade were seized from the accused which were meant to be used to trigger blasts in the capital’s markets, the police said.
The Lashkar is trying to tie up with the Manipur-based People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), the accused revealed during interrogation. Tuesday’s arrests have added a dimension to intelligence agency reports indicating that the PULF is being helped by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
This is the first time that LeT operatives hailing from any state in the Northeast have been arrested in the capital, though the ISI’s connection with various outfits, including Ulfa, has been known for some time.
Intelligence agencies were tracking the PULF-LeT connection since May this year when Kori accompanied one Noor of the PULF to Bangladesh, the police said.
The Manipuri militants have been trained earlier by the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and have a strong presence in the Naga outfit’s stronghold, Dimapur, in Nagaland.
The trio was trained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Kori was a protege of the deceased LeT leader Salim Salar who initiated him into the outfit and asked him to set up a base in Manipur.
A tie-up with PULF which controls the Moreh area on the Indo-Myanmar border could give the LeT control over arms and drug smuggling through the porous international border. This has been a major concern for security agencies.
“The tie-up is a serious development,” joint commissioner of police (special cell), Karnal Singh, said. The PULF is seen as a radical Islamic militant group comprising mostly Pangal (Manipuri Muslims) as cadre.
There are several Islamist militant outfits in the Northeast, including 14 outfits in Assam alone. Leading the crop is the All Muslim United Liberation Forum of Assam .
The LeT’s eyes were first set on Manipur in 2001 when Kori was spotted by the LeT during a visit to Aligarh. Salar motivated him to go to PoK and undergo arms training and a “special course in karate”. Three years later, Kori joined militants in Poonch and was asked to recruit youths from Manipur for the LeT. He then visited Delhi, Aligarh, Bangalore, Mumbai and several places in Manipur.
Earlier, he had stayed in Islamabad and Sopore in Kashmir, the police said.
The recruitment operation and plans for explosion are believed to be controlled by Poonch-based LeT commander Abu Faris and Abu Furkan in Sopore.
Today’s arrests are linked to the arrest of two LeT operatives from Bangladesh here on 16 October.
The trio was present in the capital when Abdur Razzaq Jiwon and Mohammad Alamgir Hussain Roni were arrested. The duo was to hand over explosives to the Manipuri youth to trigger explosions during the festive season and then accompany them to Bangladesh.