A 16-year-old was among the three terrorists killed in the Lethopora attack in Jammu and Kashmir. As the operations came to a close, the body of a third terrorist was recovered from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) training camp where the attack took place.
It is now confirmed that two of the three terrorists who were killed in the encounter were locals. Unconfirmed reports suggest the the third terrorist, whose body was found on Monday, January 1, was from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
What is worrisome is the rare modus operandi used by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which has claimed responsibility for this attack. Indians are normally not used either by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or JeM for sneak and strike operations like the one witnessed at Lethopora in which five CRPF jawans lost their lives.
The local terrorists are normally not used for major fidayeen strikes. But attacks like the one in Lethopora are carried out by Pakistani terrorists who have access to better training facilities when compared to local terrorists.
However, with foreign terrorists drying up in the Valley courtesy "Operation All Out," the locals are now being trained or fidayeen strikes. It is a cost-effective option and does not involve the pains of infiltration.
The presence of the two local terrorists clearly shows JeM and LeT are training local terrorists to carry out fidayeen strikes. Intelligence Bureau officials say this appears to be a shift in strategy as the infiltrations have gone down due to various factors such as the Army's initiative and also the winter.
A dangerous precedent is being set and the security forces have plenty to worry about with this new trend catching up. Normally with the local terrorists the attacks are low-key, and they are easier to neutralise since they are less trained than their Pakistani counterparts.
However JeM and LeT have now started imparting the same training they did for Pakistani terrorists. This means the local terrorists would be capable of launching big strikes in the Valley.
Infiltrations are normally down during winter, and Indian Army goes all out to ensure peace is restored in the Valley. The Lethopora attack is now a cause for concern for the security agencies as they will now have to tackle local terrorists.
One of the terrorists in the Lethopora attack has been identified as Fardeen Khanday (16) and the other as Manzoor Baba (22). Khanday hailed from Tral. He studied in school until three months ago before leaving home to take up terrorism. He was the son of a policeman.
Baba on the other hand was a driver by profession before he joined JeM just two months ago. It may be recalled that a month ago his mother had made an appeal to him to return to the mainstream, but he refused.
Khanday had posted a video prior to the attack. In the disturbing video, he was seen saying: "By the time this video is released, I will be a new guest in heaven." He went on to add that unemployment was pushing the youth of Kashmir towards terrorism.
"The importance of jihad increases when infidels occupy our land, he also goes on to state. Jihad will continue until the last occupying soldier is present in Kashmir," he said.