With anti-India jihadis at the helm of Al Qaeda’s shadow army, New Delhi must pay heed to how the efforts by Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, HuJI and Indian Mujahideen contribute to Al Qaeda’s overall geo-political strategy for South Asia. Failing to do so will be fatal
A recent report has for the first time described Ilyas Kashmiri, the commander of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami’s 313 Brigade, as the chief of Al Qaeda’s Shadow Army also called Lashkar-al-Zil. In the past Pakistan-based Al Qaeda’s operatives Abu Obaida al-Misri and Khalid Habib have been described as holding that role in the Lashkar-al-Zil. While Al-Misri is believed to have died of Hepatitis B back in January 2008, Khalid Habib is believed to have died in a Predator drone strike in October 2008. Since Khalid Habib’s death in last year’s Predator strike no other Al Qaeda leader was described as having replaced Khalid Habin until the December 24 report in the Asia Times describing Ilyas Kashmiri as the chief of Lashkar-al-Zil.
Bill Roggio writing in the Long War Journal in February describes the Lashkar-Al-Zil as being organised under a military structure that has a clear-cut command structure with established ranks. A senior Al Qaeda military leader is placed in command of the Shadow Army, while experienced officers are put in command of the brigades and subordinate battalions and companies. In article Bill Roggio also explains that this was the result of a revamp and reorganisation of the Shadow Army’s precursor Brigade 055.