Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Muhammad planning attacks in Indian cities: Intelligence sources
New Delhi: Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad is planning some spectacular attacks not only in Kashmir but in major Indian cities, including Mumbai, Indian intelligence sources said on Thursday amid soaring tension with Pakistan over Kashmir.
"The idea is to create a Pulwama-Balakot kind of scenario to attract international attention," an Indian intelligence source told IBNS, adding that the "Pakistan establishment has removed restrictions from militant groups/leaders and has allowed cross LoC infiltration to carry out subversive activities in India."
"As it is, a lobby within the Pakistan spy agency ISI was not in favour of putting restrictions to begin win," the sources said amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan and the latter severing bilateral trade ties with India and expelling its envoy following India's move to split the state of Jammu and Kashmir and abrogate Article 370 that granted special status to the state.
Jaish-e-Muhammad (meaning Army of Muhammad) was founded in 2000 as a Pakistan-based terror outfit aiming to attack Indian security and government establishments to overthrow Indian control over Kashmir.
"ISI has taken the decision both as a tactical move as well as to release pressure from itself, and has given green signal to JeM to carry out spectacular attacks not only in Kashmir but in major cities in India," the source said.
The source said JeM has since been aggressively mobilizing all trained cadres from hinterland to forward locations along the LoC and has put JeM Operation Commander Rauf (brother of JeM Chief Masood Azhar) in charge of the operation.
"This escalation in operational hierarchy is seen as a confirmation for a major attack. Last month Ibrahim Azhar, the elder brother of Masood Azhar and the architect of IC-814 hijacking (1999) has relocated to PoK to look after operations. According to latest reports, Rauf will supervise major terror attack deep inside India while Ibrahim might focus on J&K. The attempt is to give the subsequent attacks an indigenous (PoK/Kashmir) colour," the source said.
The source also said that the JeM sleeper cells in Mumbai has been activated and the western megapolis, considered India's financial capital which bore several terror strikes since decades, could be a prime target.
"It is also likely that the drug cartels operating from J&K and Punjab could also be roped in for the attacks in North India," said the sources.
Indian intelligence sources said already massive efforts of infiltration are under way in Machhal sector across LoC. "Infiltrators were engaged by Indian troops in 500 metres inside LoC. Another clash is reported from Sunderbani sector in Kashmir as well," sources said.
The sources said that "Pakistan Prime Minister seemed to have tactfully encouraged the terrorist elements through the statement that more Pulwama type of attacks can come."
"This is already an attempt to pre-empt the accusations of sponsoring terrorism," the source said.