Security forces and intelligence agencies in Kashmir define hybrid terrorists as those not listed as ultras but radicalised enough to carry out a terror strike and then slip back into routine life. They are hard to track and trace as they live among the general populace
Authorities in Kashmir are facing a new challenge – hybrid terrorists.
Security forces and intelligence agencies in Kashmir define hybrid terrorists as those not listed as ultras but radicalised enough to carry out a terror strike and then slip back into routine life.
Let’s take a closer look
Who are they?
Security agencies describe these terrorists as “boys next door” who are kept on standby mode by terror groups, as per News18.
What makes them different from ‘regular’ terrorists?
That they live their normal lives in between their assignments. Security agencies find it hard to track and trace them as they live among the general populace.
Who is directing them?
Officials told PTI the trend is occurring in the Valley on the directions of Pakistan and its spy agency, the ISI.
Where did the term come from?
As per News18, the term “hybrid terrorist” likely first emerged after suspected militants believed to be affiliated with The Resistance Front (TRF) killed two non-Muslim teachers at a government school in Srinagar on 7 October.
What is their aim?
The officials said the aim is to spread fear and stop businesses and social activity that targets terrorists and their ecosystem.
They target and silence voices that are speaking against separatism and against the perpetrators and instigators of violence, that is the aim, the officials said.
The security agencies believe this type of targeting is not random, but properly planned.
“It is never random. It involves watching movement patterns and finding a weak part of the routine. The spotter could be an OGW or even a hybrid terrorist who is not on the police list, but has a pistol and intent to kill just like a mercenary shooter paid to kill a target,” officials said.
It is an ecosystem where only numbers matter hence the victim may have no particular Wtrait to get killed just a convenient soft target. For the killer, who it (the target) is, does not matter, they added.
What do intel services say?
“The desperate nexus is modifying methods. Their desperation is showing. Now, it is the preference for pistol-based targeting of soft targets. Targets which are unarmed and unlikely to retaliate like businessmen [including from the minority community], activists, political leaders without protection and off-duty policemen,” sources said.
Sources told News18 jihadi groups are also not deterred by security forces eliminating these hybrid terrorists. Since it is difficult to prove the association of these hybrid terrorists with specific terror groups, eliminating them leads to more locals taking up guns, creating more bodies for terrorist ranks.
Intelligence agencies have also noticed a change in weapons being used by these terrorists. Sources said that hybrid terrorists targeting civilians have started using sticky bombs and carrying smaller weapons.
“Instead of moving with an AK-47, they think it better to keep one small pistol in the pocket as it is easy to carry,” an intelligence source said. The quality of the pistol has also improved from Chinese fibre to a more sophisticated make.
In 2021, officials told PTI they were witnessing attacks on soft targets in the Valley, including in the Srinagar city, by pistol-wielding youth who are not listed as terrorists with the security agencies.
Speaking to India Today, an officer in the Jammu and Kashmir Police said Pakistan has been sending consignments of pistols every single day from across the International Border. Although several consignments have been seized, many have made it into the hands of hybrid terrorists, who are now unleashing terror, he added.
“I don’t recall this sense of uncertainty even in the 1990s,” the policeman said. “It is impossible to go out with my family now. Even though I have tried to change my routine, anyone can be a target now. I have a domestic help who is a migrant. I have told my family there are only two possible targets in the house – him [domestic help] and me, and both of us have to be extremely careful henceforth.”
Police had in the first week of September 2020 declared Srinagar city as terrorist-free. However, there have been attacks on civilians and policemen after that as well and the officials believe the attacks are the handiwork of the hybrid terrorists.
With inputs from agencies
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