26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Azam Cheema dies in Pakistan

Cheema's death follows a string of unexplained killings of LeT members in recent months, leading to accusations that Indian agencies are behind the attacks - allegations that India has strongly denied.

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Shantanu Poswal
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Azam Cheema, a top intelligence commander of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has died of a heart attack in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Cheema was a key planner behind major terror attacks in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and 2006 Mumbai train bombings.

His death comes amid a series of mysterious killings of LeT operatives in recent months. This has raised suspicions that Indian agencies may be orchestrating the attacks, a claim India has strongly denied.

While New Delhi has refuted any 'hit list', officials said if one existed, Cheema would likely have been at the top with LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

Cheema was known for his major role in training terrorists and planning attacks across India. Described as an elusive, bearded Punjabi-speaking LeT member skilled in map reading, Cheema often moved around in a Land Cruiser with six bodyguards, according to reports.

He would visit LeT camps in Pakistan to help indoctrinate militants undergoing arms training. As a US-designated LeT 'key commander' with al-Qaeda ties, Cheema served as the LeT commander in Bahawalpur in 2008 when he was appointed operations advisor to senior LeT leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

The mysterious death of the high-value Cheema is being viewed by some as a major blow to LeT's terror infrastructure targeting India. His killing has raised speculation about covert Indian operations, which India has denied, to eliminate top militant commanders.