NEW DELHI, Aug 05 : In a region already crowded with terrorist outfits ranging from Lashkar-e-Taiba to Jaish-e-Muhammed and Hizbul Mujhaddein, the Al – Qaida seems to have finally gained a foothold in the Valley going by the encounter killing of Abu Dujana and Arif Lelhari. Both had switched from the Lashkar-e-Taiba to the multinational Sunni Islamist militant organisation founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988.
LeT commander Abu Dujana had joined the al-Qaida’s Kashmir cell Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind led by Zakir Musa, a fact that was revealed in the contents of the last phone call Dujana and his associate Lelhari made to the latter’s brother during the gun-battle that led to their killing on August 1.
Late on Friday, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind chief Zakir Musa released a video hailing Dujana and Lelhari, declaring them as the first martyrs of the al-Qaida. The video was shared by Musa’s followers in secret jihad-related Telegram and WhatsApp groups.
In a 3.16 minute audio clip of the call they had made before succumbing to injuries ?they suffered during the August 1 encounter with security forces, ?Lelhari, while heaving sighs and swallowing his breath several times, requested his family and followers not to cover his corpse in a Pakistani flag.
“Please wrap me only in Tawheed flag (used by the al-Qaida) at my funeral. Please respect my blood, my sacrifice. Pray for me. Pray for our success. You will succeed, too,” Lelhari made a breathless plea in Kashmiri.
‘Dujana and Lelhari played an important role’
He also begged his family and friends not to send away Dujana “bhai”, implying that his funeral, too, should happen in Kashmir and not in his native village in Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
After making the appeal, Lelhari handed over the phone to Dujana, who is heard speaking in Urdu and whispers with a dry throat through the recording. Dujana bragged that he had been “chosen and rewarded by Allah for martyrdom”, and asked his followers “not to worry” about his death. “I am very happy about the sacrifice,” he is heard saying.
Lelhari appealed to his followers not to harm the owners of the house who provided them the hideout in Hakripora village of Pulwama district in south Kashmir.
Like Lelhari, Dujana too requested his terrorist comrades not to harm the owners of the house where they had taken shelter the night before around 10pm. “The owners did not give us in but somebody noticed us. So don’t do any injustice against them,” he reiterated.
Lelhari ended the conversation by declaring: “We are with Zakir (Musa) bhai, we are with al-Qaida.”
Security officials said that even as a Lashkar commander, Dujana was in constant touch with Musa, who had announced his departure from the Hizbul Mujahideen to the al-Qaida.
A security official said that Dujana had left Lashkar over the issue of money which he demanded for relocation of his Kashmiri wife to Pakistan. “So, for him, joining Musa was a natural option.
He may have been the second most important member in Musa’s Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind group. The killing of Dujana and Lelhari is the first big blow to Musa,” he said.