Tribune India : London terror plotter was ‘hardened’ in ISI camp

Sunday, September 17, 2006

London terror plotter was ‘hardened’ in ISI camp

London | September 17, 2006

The much dreaded ISI-Al Qaeda-Taliban-Kashmiri militant nexus has come to light in a London courtroom where the hearing in the March 2004 fertiliser bomb terror trial is on.

One of the main accused in the trial, Omar Khyam has made a few startling statements in his defence that clearly establish a growing merger of Al-Qaida and the Kashmiri militants under the aegis of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI).

Khyam, 24-year-old British Muslim, told the court on Thursday about his radicalisation process after a visit to an ISI-backed Pakistani training camp for militants fighting in Kashmir and a trip to Afghanistan to meet the Taliban.

Khyam was arrested along with six others including his brother Shujah Mahmood in 2004 after fertiliser explosives were found in a storage depot in west London. He and his associates, alleged to belong to terror cell of Al-Qaida, have been charged of plotting to bomb nightclubs and other places in United Kingdom.

In his testimony, Khyam stated how he came to know of the fighting in Kashmir between India and Pakistan with the ISI recruiting and training irregular mujahideen.

A Guardian report quoted Khyam as saying: “I wanted to dedicate myself to helping Kashmiri Muslims, and go to Pakistan for military training”. In January 2000 he ran away to Pakistan and joined an ISI-run training camp for militants in the mountains near Rawalpindi, when he was just 18-year-old.

“They told me everything I needed to know for fighting guerrilla warfare in Kashmir. That included training with AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns as well as reconnaissance and sniper techniques,” he added.

After his training, he visited Kabul where he was impressed by the Taliban.

“They were soft, kind and humble, but harsh with their enemies”, Khyam told court.

But after the defeat of the Taliban by the NATO forces who took over Kabul, Khyam and his colleagues decided to return to their native countries with an aim to “establish an Islamic State”.

Khyam’s deliberations in the court, where he narrated about his transformation from an ardent fan of the English football team to a radical terrorist, who “was happy” when the twin towers of World Trade Centre collapsed on 9/11, have baffled many here.

Narrating his ideological journey, Khyam said: “I was born here and felt allegiance” but later joined an ISI-training camp for mujahideens in Kashmir, since ‘I wanted to help Kashmiri Muslims”. — ANI