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.
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.
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.”
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”
At a religious congregation held at the Binori mosque in Karachi on February 4, 2000, it was Maulana Mohammed Yousuf Ludhianvi, who was subsequently assassinated, and Mufti Shamzai, who together announced the formation of the JEM headed by Azhar. Shamzai, who is the chairman of the Majlis-i-Taawun Islami Pakistan (Organisation for Islamic Cooperation), said that the new jehadi organisation came into existence as a result of the decision of the Ulema, who would be patronising it with the sole purpose of organising the Mujahideen who had been forced out of various organisations.
He added: “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.”
Writing in the Friday Times (August 18-24, 2000), Khalid Ahmed, the well-known Pakistani analyst, said:
“The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen formally announced itself as a new organisation in June 1996 in Muzaffarabad. In January 2000, Masood Azhar of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was sprung from an Indian jail after the Kathmandu hijack. Masood Azhar had gone into India through ‘proper channels’, as a journalist endorsed by Islamabad (that is, the ISI). He was a follower of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of the anti-Iran and anti-Shia organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba, who was killed in 1990.
Their Deobandi connection with Mullah Omar, the Amir of Afghanistan, strengthened their presence in Pakistan, especially in Karachi where Binori Masjid emerged as the big centre of the Pakistani Taliban.
“After his release, Masood Azhar wished to revive the legacy of his master. By this time the Harkat had become a major Deobandi organisation in Pakistan. Its main strength remained the militants of Punjab who not long ago had been the militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba.
“His return, therefore, caused an upheaval which climaxed in a grand split in the Harkat. The split was soon followed by the assassination of Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi, a key figure in the Oeobandi movement because of his status as a spiritual guide to two important Oeobandi leaders, his Khalifas: Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI and Maulana Azam Tariq of Sipah-e-Sahaba.
“Their Deobandi connection with Mullah Omar, the Amir of Afghanistan, strengthened their presence in Pakistan, especially in Karachi where Binori Masjid emerged as the big centre of the Pakistani Taliban. The Binori Town complex of the Oeobandi seminary was headed by Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai who was also a member of the Majlis-i-Shoora of JUI under Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
“The split in Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was caused by the militants in Punjab. Masood Azhar and his Punjabi following isolated the Harkat leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil. The formation of Jaish-e-Mohammed as a new organisation was announced, but Masood Azhar and Fazlur Rehman Khalil began to fight over the Harkat assets.
In Pakista, the jaish emerged as the more radical and more sectarian part of the Harkat because of its Sipah-e-Sahaba background.
“On March 19, 2000, the two submitted to a hakam (arbitration) of their elders. Harkat was represented by Muhammed Farooq Kashmiri and Jaish was represented by Maulana Abdul Jabbar (a key figure in the Kathmandu hijack) on the pledge given that they would abide by the hakam. The verdict was given by three elders: Mufti Rasheed Ahmed of Zarb-i-Momin Jihadi militia, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai of the Binori Town complex and Dr Sher Ali Shah of Waziristan. The decision was that all offices of the Harkat, occupied by Jaish in Punjab, would be returned to the Harkat, which in turn would pay the Jaish Rs 40 lakh as its share of the division of assets.
“The implementation of the hakam, however, was not so smooth. The vehicles and offices returned by Jaish to Harkat were in such bad repair that Harkat refused to accept them and thus also refused to pay the stipulated 40 lakhs. Meanwhile, in the field, the splinter groups fell upon each other. At Ath Maqam in Kashmir, members of Harkat suffered serious injuries in an ambush by the Jaish (Daily Insaf, May 30, 2000).
Pakistans pressure on the Taliban to surrender Pakistani terrorists coincided with the Talibans own decision to banish Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish from Afghanistan. This was followed by a flurry of arrests of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists on their return to Pakistan
“In the following month, Jaish was also involved in the alleged killing of a Harkat militant in Kabul (Daily Insaf, June 27, 2000), which led to a case of qisas being registered in the Taliban court. Despite summons, the leaders of Jaish did not appear in court to defend their militants.
“Meanwhile, another rumour reached Lahore about a serious incident caused by Jaish and Lashkar militants in Kabul. Six members of the Jaish were found guilty by a Taliban court of the rape and murder of a Shia family and were executed. This news was never fonfirmed but the upshot was that the Taliban authorities closed the Reshkor camp and banished Jaish and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants form Afghanistan.
“In Pakista, the jaish emerged as the more radical and more sectarian part of the Harkat because of its Sipah-e-Sahaba background. Maulana Yousuf Ludhianvi, it is said, inclined towards their creed more than to Harkat’s moderate view. Mufti Shamzai seemed to vacillate between the tow splinter groups, thus allowing the Harkat’s over-all leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil to be eclipsed.
“Finding himself thus isolated, Khalil is said to have gone to Osama bin Laden and made up some of his losses by getting from him 12 new double-cabin pick-up trucks to replace those ruined by the Jaish in Punjab. It is said that the split in the old Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was so deep that Maulana Fzlur Rehman did not find himself in a position to prevent armed clashed between them.
“Meanwhile, the image of Masood Szhar was greatly enhanced in Punjab when he was slowed to travel to Lahore with scores of Kalamhnikov-bearing guards. The agencies restrained him only when his statements against the Musharraf Government became too aggressive.
The Afghan Jehad as a model for Kashmir could not have suited Pakistan in the long run because of its inherent lack of discipline and organisation and the consequent “˜softness among the militias to penetration by informers damaging Islamabads policy of “˜deniability.
“Meanwhile, Pakistan’s pressure on the Taliban to surrender Pakistani terrorists coincided with the Taliban’s own decision to banish Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish from Afghanistan. This was followed by a flurry of arrests of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists on their return to Pakistan in June and July. The Lashkar leader Riaz Basra is said to have disappeared in Afghanistan to avoid being caught by Pakistan.
“The Taliban have closed other militant training camps, including one in Zhavar built by Osama bin Laden during the Afghan War with the help of forced labour from Soviet POWs. This closure is bound to have effect on the Sipah-Taliban ties based on the former’s running blood-feud with the Shia community of the Kurram Agency considered hostile by the Taliban.
“Another split nearly happened in 1997 in the Lashkar-i-Toiba headed by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, also a former head of the Islamiat Department of the Engineering University in Lahore. The Department came to be controlled by its teachers, Prof Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Prof Zafar Iqbal and Prof Makki. These teachers were greatly influenced by the Ahle Hadith faith based on direct contacts with Saudi Arabia.
“There was resentment in the collective leadership about Hafiz Saeed’s tendency to give important posts to his Gujjar biradari. A number of meetings took place amongst the Doctors’ Wing of the Lashkar headed by Dr Ayub of the Urology Department at Mayo Hospital, which proposed replacing Hafiz Saeed with Dr Zafar Iqbal. The split was prevented through timely organisational reform by Hafiz Saeed. The rumour was that the split was being engineered by an ISI Major.
Azzam was the main motivational force in the Arab world for the Afghan Jehad (holy war) against the former Soviet Union. Bin Laden fought, and helped finance opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“It is not surprising that the jehadi militias have begun to split. This tendency, as we have seen, has been there since 1996, but in the year 2000 the additional element of Jehad fatigue is also to be considered. The Afghan Jehad as a model for Kashmir could not have suited Pakistan in the long run because of its inherent lack of discipline and organisation and the consequent ‘softness’ among the militias to penetration by informers damaging Islamabad’s policy of ‘deniability’.
”The Afghan Jehad was also split in its early stages. The splits were to the advantage of the agencies handling them, who then established better control over the Jehad. The splits in the Kashmir Jehad, engineered or not, must redound to the advantage of its handlers for the same reason.”
The Asia Times of August 22, 2001, reported as follows:
“A very strong Muslim lobby has emerged to protect his (bin Laden’s) interests. This includes Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as well as senior Pakistani Generals. Prince Abdullah has good relations with bin Laden as both are disciples of the slain Doctor Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian scholar and former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation (Al-Iqwanul Muslamoon). Azzam was the main motivational force in the Arab world for the Afghan Jehad (holy war) against the former Soviet Union. Bin Laden fought, and helped finance opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“Bin Laden left Saudi Arabia in 1991. He was asked by the Saudi Government to return, but he refused, so they withdrew his citizenship, cancelled his passport and froze his assets. Bin Laden is believed to have amassed a fortune through his family’s construction business.
In Pakistan, there is also a very strong lobby within the Army not to assist in any US moves to apprehend bin Laden.
“Prince Abdullah made a clandestine visit to Pakistan a few months ago and met senior army officials, he also visited Afghanistan with the Director-General of the powerful ISI, Lieutenant General Mehmood. According to sources, Prince Abdullah met Taliban strongman Mullah Omar and tried to convince him that the United States was likely to launch an attack on Afghanistan and insisted bin Laden be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he would be held in custody and not handed over to any third country. Mullah Omar apparently rejected the Crown Prince’s proposal, saying that despite the threat of US attacks, the question of bin Laden had become one of honour and he would not be handed over under any circumstances.
“As an alternative to snatching him, the US too, would appear to support the idea of bin Laden going to Saudi Arabia. Although aware that Prince Abdullah is almost certain to take over from the ailing pro-US King Fahad, who suffered a stroke in 1995, when he dies, US authorities believe that there is a sufficiently strong US lobby within the country – and sufficient palace intrigues – for them to have their way with bin Laden.
According to sources, Mufti Shamzai threatened the Interior Minister that if any more Arabs were deported from Pakistan, what the jehadi groups did in Pakistan would not be his or anyone elses responsibility.
“Fahad and Abdullah are from the same father, but have different mothers. Abdullah was appointed Crown Prince only because he was next in line, and after his appointment King Fahad posted his own brothers (King Fahad’s mother’s family is known as Sudari and he has seven blood brothers) to important positions to counter Abdullah’s authority as Crown Prince.
“The Governor of the capital Riyadh, the Defence Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are all Fahad’s brothers. Abdullah’s only power within the Saudi establishment is with the National Baduvian Guards, which is headed by Abdullah’s blood brother. Outside the country, though, there is a strong body of support for Prince Abdullah among those who opposed the US using Saudi Arabia as a base during the Gulf War in 1991.
“In Pakistan, there is also a very strong lobby within the Army not to assist in any US moves to apprehend bin Laden. These include Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lieutenant General Jamshed Guizar (since shifted as Adjutant General by Musharraf), one of the coup leaders of October 12, 1999, Lahore Corps Commander Lieutenant General (Mohammed) Aziz Khan (since kicked upstairs as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee) and Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Muzzaffar Usmani (since prematurely retired).
“This was the strong army backing that enabled a Pakistani religious scholar, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, who is well respected among the Taliban leadership, to put pressure on Pakistan’s Minister of the Interior, a retired Lieutenant General, Moinuddin Haider, not to deport any more Arabs from Pakistan. In the past, Pakistan has deported known associates of bin Ladeh from Jordan, Algeria and Egypt to their mother countries, which in turn have handed them over to the US or other Western countries where they have stood trial for terrorism.
Since its establishment in 1951, the mosque and its madrasa have been in the forefront of the anti-Ahmadiya and anti-Shia movements in Pakistan.
“According to sources, Mufti Shamzai threatened the Interior Minister that if any more Arabs were deported from Pakistan, what the jehadi groups did in Pakistan would not be his or anyone else’s responsibility. Knowing the support Shamzai has, and the vulnerability of the government if they were to retaliate against jehadi forces in the country, the Interior Minister has subsequently not sanctioned the deportation of Arabs. This is a strong example to the government of the opposition it will face should it allow Pakistani soil to be used for a raid into Afghanistan to capture bin Laden.”
Shamzai was a member of the Ulema delegation which went to Kandahar on September 28, 2001, along with Lt Gen Mahmood Ahmed, then OG, ISI, for discussions with Mullah Omar on the bin Laden issue. The other members were Mufti Saleemullah, Mufti Taqi Usmani, Mufti Mohammed Jamil, Maulana Fazale Rahim, Qari Saeedur Rehman, Maulana Abdul Ghani, Maulana Mohammed Hasan Jan, Qari Mufti Sher Ali Shah and Maulana Haji Abdul Rehman.
The Darul Uloom Islamia Binori Town mosque in Karachi has one of the largest religious seminaries in Pakistan. It is perceived as one of the most influential centres of hardline Oeobandi Sunni Muslim ideology in the world. Along with the Akora Khattak madrasa – the largest seminary in Pakistan the Binori Town madrasa has imparted doctrinal training to the leading lights of the Taliban as well as to men like Maulana Azam Tariq, of the Sunni extremist Sipah-e- Sahaba (Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions).
Since its establishment in 1951, the mosque and its madrasa have been in the forefront of the anti-Ahmadiya and anti-Shia movements in Pakistan. It imparts religious education to some 3,500 students at one time, most of them drawn from Afghanistan and the Pushto-speaking areas of Pakistan’s NWFP. Students also come from Africa, the Philippines and Malaysia. It has a large number of smaller affiliated madrasas, both within and outside Karachi.