Home » How a teen Pakistan ‘terrorist’ joined Lashkar, signed up for a mission in India – ThePrint

How a teen Pakistan ‘terrorist’ joined Lashkar, signed up for a mission in India – ThePrint

by Arifa Rana

New Delhi: Ali Babar Patra, an alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist, who surrendered while trying to infiltrate into India from Pakistan on 18 September, has allegedly told Indian authorities that he had been “reluctant to join the terror outfit and did it only to pay for the treatment of his ailing mother”, claimed a security agency source.
According to the source, Patra, 18, has claimed that even after being trained at a camp for LeT recruits in Pakistan’s Markaz-E-Khyber, Garhi Habibullah, for 21 days in 2019, Patra went back home — to Punjab’s Okara — to meet his mother on a “10-day break” and did not report back.
He took up odd jobs to earn money, but had to contact his handler again in 2021, when he “needed money for his mother’s treatment”, the source claimed.
Patra is one of six LeT terrorists who tried to infiltrate into India from the general area of the Pakistani post of Jabri on 18 September, the Army said in a statement released Tuesday.
Four of them — Tayyab, Abu Bakkar Salfi, Abu Khitab and Usman, allegedly identified by Patra during interrogation — ran back towards the PoK side of the Line of Control (LoC, when spotted by the Indian Army) “taking advantage of the thick undergrowth”. One of the six — later identified as Qari Anas — was killed, and Patra surrendered.
According to the source, Patra told security agency officers during interrogation that “he went on a break after his 2019 training and did not return because he was not convinced with the Jihad narrative of the LeT and did not want to be involved with their activities. However, due to his poor financial condition and his ailing mother, he contacted his handler again, who then told him that he would have to go for a refresher course and then to an operation in India, if he needed money for his mother’s treatment, to which he instantly agreed”.
After a break of almost two years, Patra went for a “refresher course” in April 2021, after his handler told him that he would have to go to India for a “month-long operation”, the source claimed.
The source told ThePrint that according to the alleged terrorist’s statement during interrogation, he had been told by the LeT that he would have to reach Baramulla, deliver the consignment of weapons and ammunition and meet a few people, as part of the month-long operation, before being safely brought back to Pakistan.
“Patra agreed to this operation because he was told that he would be called back in a month’s time and meanwhile his mother would be taken care of,” the source claimed.
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During his interrogation, Patra allegedly told the security agency officers that his father passed away in 2014, when he was very young and he had to quit his studies due to the family’s poor financial condition.
He then started working at a cloth factory in Sialkot, where he met Anas, who, according to Patra, allegedly worked with the ISI and used to recruit people for them.
“Anas gave him Rs 20,000 and promised another Rs 30,000, which was to be paid later. He then connected him to the ISI and they put him in touch with personnel of the Pakistan Army. He was then taken for training to camp Khyber Delihabibullah,” the source claimed.
“He (Patra) was misguided and lured into joining LeT due to poverty. The family was barely managing to make ends meet. To escape poverty, he left school and took up odd jobs. That money, however, was not sufficient to run his household, especially with an ailing mother and that is why he agreed to work with Anas.”
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During interrogation, Patra has allegedly revealed that after he agreed to join the terror ranks, he underwent three weeks of preliminary training at the Garhi Habibullah Camp (KPK) in 2019. Most of the instructors being employed for physical and weapons training were allegedly Pakistan Army personnel, the source claimed.
Patra allegedly told the officers during interrogation that his trainer, Abu Hanzala, was a retired Pakistan Army personnel, and during the training, he was taught to assemble AK 47s, hurl grenades, and to exercise.
“Patra also told us that after the training, their photos were sent to the LeT cadre and he was selected. He was then called and was asked to make the map for Baramulla and Pattan and was then taken to the Sher camp of the Pakistan Army where he was given AK 47s, ammunition, and other explosives,” the source claimed.
Patra, however, was apparently not totally convinced and went home to see his mother on a “10-day break”.
“He did not return after 10 days and went underground. But after two years, he again contacted Anas as he was unable to make ends meet and fetch sufficient money for his mother’s treatment,” the source claimed.
“He was then inducted into a refresher course and told that he would have to travel to India for this month-long operation.”
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On the night of 18 September, Patra and his associates allegedly cut the wire along the India-Pakistan border to infiltrate into India from the Uri sector.
According to the statement released by the Army, during the infiltration attempt, while two terrorists were crossing the LoC, an Indian patrolling party spotted them. Taking advantage of the thick undergrowth, four terrorists ran back towards the PoK side of the LoC while the remaining two terrorists managed to enter Indian territory.
Additional forces were then inducted and multiple patrols were launched in the suspected areas and the getaway routes were blocked, to nab them.
On the night of 25 September, the two men were spotted in one such patrol. According to the Indian army, the men were approximately 800 meters inside the LoC.
It was by afternoon of 26 September that Qari Anas was eliminated in a crossfire and Patra surrendered.
The route taken by the alleged terrorists to infiltrate was from the Sawai Nala Terrorist Camp to Hallan Shumali Launchpad to Jabri, leading into Salamabad Nala. “It was along Salamabad Nala through which terrorists infiltrated in 2016, with the help of Pakistan Army and carried out suicide attack on Uri Garrison,” the source said.
During interrogation, Patra allegedly requested Army officials to ensure that his mother is taken care of, said a second source said, and also “requested the ISI and Pakistan Army to call him back”.
“He said he was thankful to the Indian Army that the personnel did not kill him. But he is now concerned about his mother back in Pakistan. He said he wants to reunite with his mother and is also concerned that the LeT might hurt her.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
Also read: Many in US want America to disengage with Pakistan. That would be a mistake
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