Homeland Security

How Pakistan's Proxy War Began - IV
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By B Raman

The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM): During the 1980s, many ostensibly humanitarian relief organisations came into being in Pakistan through which Western and Saudi intelligence agencies could funnel money to the Army of Islam and others fighting the Soviet troops. One such organisation got floated in Karachi by the ISI and registered as a charitable trust under the Pakistan Income Tax Act was called the AI Rashid Trust, which now runs, inter alia, the weekly and online journals of the Taliban called Zarb-e-Momin. Its founder was Mufti Rashid Ahmed.

Also read: How Pakistan’s Proxy War Began – I

In 1994, Maulana Masood Azhar, a leader of the HUM, who had fought along with bin Laden’s Al Oaida against the US troops in Somalia and had participated in the training of Al Oaida’s supporters in Yemen, was arrested by the Indian authorities and detained in a Jammu jail till December,1999, when he had to be released as demanded by the HUM cadres, including Azhar’s brother, who had hijacked an Indian Airlines’ plane to Kandahar.

Click to buy: A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally

During his detention, Azhar used to send articles clandestinely to the AI Rashid Trust and these used to be published in the Zarb-e-Momin. In one of these articles published on October 31, 1999, Azhar praised the services of Mufti Rashid Ahmed as follows:

The JEM cadres, after training, were inducted into J&K by Aziz and it became the principal terrorist organisation after the LET.

Due to his services, “the Taliban gained strength and the long porous border of Pakistan became so safe that not a single army guard is needed there. If instead of the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Masood (Author’s comment: Since assassinated by the Al Qaida on September 8, 2001) who is the enemy of Pakistan and an ally of India had been the ruler of Afghanistan, Pakistan would have been surrounded by enemies on all four sides.”

“Thousands of his students are fighting in Kashmir. Students, who are as dear to him as his own sons, putting their lives in danger are battling the Indian troops.”

When some renowned sons of Islam and Pakistan died in the prisons of India, he announced a reward of Rs two million for those who would kill the “murderers.”

One Mohammed Saleh, son of Rashid Ahmed, native of Karachi, captured in July 1998, by the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan stated as follows during his interrogation: “My parents came to Pakistan in 1973 as refugees. I was born in 1975 in the city of Karachi in Pakistan and studied up to the eighth grade. I then began attending the Abuzar Islami Kawrangi madrasa. During my studies, I joined the Mahaz-e-Islami of Burma party through Noar Alem, who was the leader of Mahaz-e-Islami and Abdul Hamid, his deputy. This party has links with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Ansar and Edara-ul-Rashid. Mufti Rashid Ahmed is the chief of these three parties and Mufti Abdul Rahim is his deputy. These parties have direct links with ISI and the Taliban inside Afghanistan and are supporters of the Taliban. They always send their members inside Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. The Zarb-e Momin newsletter explains about their links with ISI and the Taliban. Its daily publication supports the Taliban.”

“Our objectives are limited to responding effectively to the Indian repression and extending support to the Kashmiri Mujahideen in their struggle against the Indian yoke. We will have no concern whatsoever with politics in Pakistan. We are loyal to Pakistan, its government and its people.”

Following his release from jail by the Government of India in December, 1999, Azhar went to the Binori mosque in Karachi and announced the formation of the JEM to fight against India and the US. This caused a split in the HUM and a majority of its members joined the JEM, which was inducted by General Aziz as a member of the Army of Islam. Despite the JEM and the HUM being both members of the Army of Islam, there were frequent clashes between the two over property, fund collection etc.

The JEM cadres, after training, were inducted into J&K by Aziz and it became the principal terrorist organisation after the LET.

On May 18, 2000, Maulana Mohammed Yousuf Ludhianvi of the Binori mosque and his driver were killed in Karachi by unknown elements. Their murders have not been solved so far. In the tributes paid to him in Karachi’s religious press, the Maulana was described as “the supreme leader of the JEM”, of which, it was said, Azhar was the Chief Commander. The Maulana was also described as the Chief Commander of the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a member of bin Laden’s International Islamic Front. The Sahaba has been carrying on a campaign against the Shias of Pakistan and had also participated in the massacre of the Shias of Afghanistan. The ‘open’ leader of the Sahaba is Maulana Azam Tariq, who is described by some Pakistani analysts as the most powerful cleric in Pakistan today. It was also said by observers that it was the slain Maulana, who had organised the hijacking of the IAC plane to Kandahar to secure the release of Azhar.

The Shia media in Pakistan reported that in addition to being an office-bearer of the HUM till December, 1999, Azhar was also an office-bearer of the Sipah-e-Sahaba and was known for his strong anti-Shia views.

Shortly after taking over as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on October 7, 2001, and after the customary courtesy call on Musharraf, General Mohammad Aziz reportedly met at Islamabad the leaders of the various jehadi organisations constituting the Army of Islam on October 10, 2001.

These parties have direct links with ISI and the Taliban inside Afghanistan and are supporters of the Taliban.

The next day, the JEM, hitherto headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, reportedly renamed itself the Tehrik-al-Furqan (TAF), following reports that the USA was examining the question of declaring the JEM a foreign terrorist organisation in the wake of its involvement in the explosion outside the J&K Legislative Assembly on October 1, 2001, in which 40 persons, many of them innocent civilians, were killed.

A spokesman of the JEM has been quoted as saying: “We have reports that the Pakistan Government is going to seal our offices and freeze our accounts all over the country.”

Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai has been named the patron-in-chief of the TAF, while Maulana Mazhar Shah the convenor. The spokesman further said: “We have already withdrawn money from our bank accounts and reopened them in the names of our low-profile supporters instead of the frontline leadership. The workers and supporters of AI-Furqan have been asked to move to Afghanistan at short notice. Some 10,000 trained Mujahideen of Al-Furqan are ready to enter Afghanistan any time to fight against US troops.”

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On July 1, 1999, at the height of the Kargil War, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, Mufti Jamil Khan and Dr Abdur Razaq had issued a Fatwa of Jehad against India in Islamabad in response to a request from the HUM. The fatwa ordered that all madrasas in Pakistan should suspend their classes and send their students to J&K to participate in the jehad. They described Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul and Lt Gen (retd) Javed Nasir, former Directors-General of the ISI, and Musharraf as Allah’s gifts to the nation.

The spokesman further said: “We have already withdrawn money from our bank accounts and reopened them in the names of our low-profile supporters instead of the frontline leadership”¦”

After the Kargil War, Shamzai started a campaign against Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister, for allegedly betraying the jehadis and the Pakistan Army by succumbing to US pressure to withdraw the Pakistani troops and the jehadis from the Kargil heights and accused him of collaborating with the USA against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Jasrat, the Urdu daily of the Jamaat-e-Islami, reported that while addressing a meeting organised by the HUM at Karachi, Shamzai declared that the Americans were “warring infidels” and it was, therefore, “permissible to kill them, loot their wealth and enslave their women”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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