Kerala convert linked to Kashmir militancy

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By JOHN MARY AND AGENCIES in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 26.10.08

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 26: Four militants killed in an early October encounter in Kashmir’s Kupwara district have now been tracked to Kerala with police identifying two more persons.

Kerala police sources today confirmed that two of the militants, suspected to belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, were Mohamed Fayiz of Kannur and Mohamed Yasir of Kochi. Yasir, earlier called Varghese Joseph, had converted to Islam last year.

Earlier, the police had identified two youths slain in the Lolab encounter with security forces as Mohammad Fayas of Kannur and Abdul Raheem of Malappuram.

One person in the group of five survived the encounter and has apparently fled to Kerala, his home state. “Only one among the five Kerala youths who had joined the Pakistan-based LeT outfit survived the encounter in Lolab valley and has apparently fled back (home),” Kupwara SSP Uttam Chand told agencies.

Kerala police stepped up investigations into the identities of the militants after one Abdul Jaleel was arrested from Kannur last week. Jaleel is apparently a “link” in a network that recruits youths for militant outfits.

The police then found that Jaleel received several calls on his mobile from Kashmir on the day of the encounter. Based on what Jaleel said, one Faisal, also a “link” in the network, was picked up.

Faisal was apparently a friend of Mohammad Fayas, his mother M. Safiya told agencies today. While she denounced her son’s anti-national activities, Abdul Raheem’s family said they did not want to claim his body.

“If my son was involved in anti-national activities, he deserved the fate he met.… My prayers are that no woman should face the fate of being called the mother of an extremist,” she said.

Safiya claimed Faisal egged her son towards militancy but bluffed her saying he was being sent to Bangalore for religious studies. On one occasion, Faisal told her Fayas was studying in Ahmedabad.

Raheem’s father Syed has written to the police that his son be buried in Kashmir as the family did not want the body brought to Kerala. The police will fax the request to their Kashmir counterparts.

“We have requested the J&K police to bury the body in accordance with Islamic rites. But we can in no way condone his terrorist activities, which are un-Islamic,” one of Raheem’s uncles said.

Yasir’s father Alexander Joseph said the family had no connection with him. He had been very cut up when Yasir converted to Islam last year.

“He is no more my son. He had gone astray and been involved in many police cases. He had come to see his mother three months back. We have no information after that,” Joseph said.

Sources said the police are on the trail of one Abdul Jabbar, suspected to be associated with the Lashkar. Jabbar, a resident of Tirur, has been missing for six months.

Five persons, including a tour operator in Kochi, have been taken into custody in statewide raids. The police are also looking into any possible link the slain quartet may have had with the banned Simi.