Saifullah Mir aka Ghazi Haider, the 26-year-old who was radicalised to join the Hizbul Mujahideen by Riyaz Naikoo six years ago, will be the Hizbul Mujahideen’s new face of terror in Jammu and Kashmir, a senior security official said on Sunday evening. The official said Saifullah Mir’s appointment to lead the Hizbul in Jammu and Kashmir had been announced by Saleem Hashmi, the spokesperson for the terror group headquartered in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Muzaffarabad.
Hashmi also named Zafarul Islam as the so-called deputy chief operational commander in jammu and Kashmir and another terrorist, Abu Tariq Bhai, as his chief military adviser.
Naikoo along with his associate Adil Ahmed was killed in an operation carried out by Jammu and Kashmir police and troopers from the 21 Rashtriya Rifles. Naikoo was hiding in a secret bunker in his village.
Saifullah Mir, who is also known as Musaib and ‘Doctor Saif’ because he treated terrorists injured in police encounters, is a class 12 pass out from Malangpora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district unlike his mentor and predecessor Riyaz Naikoo who had completed his graduation. Saifullah Mir opted for vocational training after school.
Once he was through with the bio medical course at the government-run ITI in Pulwama, Saifullah got himself a job at Srinagar’s National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology as a technician, according to security officials.
He held onto the job for three years before Riyaz Naikoo finally had his way and motivated him to join terror.
Security officials said Saifullah had been classified as an ‘A category’ terrorist and had mostly been active in south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. He is also said to be completely familiar with Riyaz Naikoo’s network and activities to raise funds byby looting orchard owners and get cuts from illicit cultivation of opium in south Kashmir.
Police officers in Kashmir said apart from terrorism, the Hizbul Mujahideen has also been involved in narco trade.
Investigators had recently busted a Hizbul Mujahideen terror funding module with the arrest of Hilal Ahmad Wagay, a resident of Nowgam, Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir. Wagay was caught with Rs 29 lakh cash in Amritsar, by Punjab Police on April 25.
“This money was being transported to the Kashmir valley to be handed over to Riyaz Naikoo (now killed), Chief operational commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. This case has been taken over by NIA,” the National Investigation Agency had said.