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HuJI and the Indian connection
B Raman
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January 30, 2008

'The UP police have detained some Indian Muslims on suspicion of having been involved in these explosions (of November 23, 2007). They have been described as members of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI). The HuJI has its headquarters in Pakistan and an active branch in Bangladesh. In the past too, the HuJI had been involved in terrorist strikes in different parts of India. The dramatis personae came from Pakistan and/or Bangladesh with some Indian involvement.

From the indications available so far, the November 23 strikes with IEDs would appear to have been carried out by Indian cells of the HUJI with only Indian Muslims as members. If this is proved by further investigation, the HUJI possibly now has an Indian branch with Indian operatives, capable of carrying out terrorist strikes autonomously without too much dependence on their counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

There is a possibility that the Rampur strike might have also been carried out by the same organisation, which had carried out the explosions of November 23. If so, the fact that the arrests made by the UP Police during the investigation of the November 23 strikes did not disrupt or prevent the attack at Rampur, would indicate that the organisation has a wider network of clandestine cells in UP than detected so far.'

Extract from: UP attack: Rise of the homegrown jihadi?

In The Hindu dated January 26, Praveen Swami, its correspondent in New Delhi, reported as follows: "Police in the mountain district of Doda, Jammu and Kashmir [Images], have shot dead Bashir Ahmed Mir, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami's commander-in-chief for operations across India. Operating under the code name Hijazi, Pakistan-trained Mir is believed to have ordered a string of strikes across north and south-east India last year, including the court complex bombings in Uttar Pradesh, the bombing of the Ajmer Sharif shrine in Rajasthan and the multiple bombings, which took place in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, in May and August."

In this report as well as in his subsequent reports, he has given the names of other HuJI members, who are suspected by the police to have been involved in the terrorist strikes. A perusal of Swami's reports as well as those carried by other sections of the media on these arrests would indicate that all those arrested or suspected as members of the HuJI cells in India are Indian and not Pakistani Muslims. There has been no reference to the involvement of any PakistanI Muslim in the unearthed HuJI cell.

During his meeting with Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Indian Prime Minister, at Islamabad in January 2004, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] gave an assurance that no territory under the control of the government of Pakistan would be allowed to be used by terrorists for their operations against India.

Since then, Pakistani authorities have been claiming that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba is no longer active in Pakistani territory, though the Pakistani media continues to report about the presence and activities of the LeT in Pakistani territory. The Markaz-Dawa-al-Irshad, as the political front of the LeT was previously known, now operates in Pakistan under the name Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its chief is the same Professor Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, who used to be previously projected as chief of the MDI.

Pakistani authorities as well as Professor Sayeed have been denying any links between the  JuD and the LeT. They have been projecting the JuD as a purely humanitarian relief organisation, which has nothing to do with the LeT. However, governmental counter-terrorism experts of the US treat the JuD as a re-incarnation of the MDI and as a political front of the LeT. They have designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation because of its links with the LeT.

President Musharraf has resisted US pressure to declare the JuD as a terrorist organisation. When the question of recommending the freezing of  bank accounts of the JuD came up before the standing committee of the UN Security Council, which monitors the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution No.1373 regarding action against terrorism, Pakistan refused to freeze the accounts of the JuD on the ground that it was a humanitarian relief organisation, which had nothing to do with the LeT. Chine also supported the Pakistani stand. As a result, the recommendation was not approved.

While continuing to give financial, training and arms assistance to the LeT, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has been encouraging the LeT to depend on Indians for its operations in India and not depute Pakistanis.

It is evident that the ISI has now started following a similar policy in respect of the HuJI, by encouraging it to set up a separate organisation for India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community with no involvement of Pakistani Muslims. The headquarters of the HuJI are located in Pakistan. It has an active branch in Bangladesh, consisting of Bangladeshi nationals only of the Afghan war (1980s and 1990s) vintage, which is referred to by US counter-terrorism experts as the HuJI (B). Members of the HuJI (B) were coming to India for organising terrorist strikes with the co-operation of recruits from the Indian Muslim community. Now, a HuJI set-up in India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community has come up, which could be projected in future as a purely Indian organisation with no Pakistani or Bangladeshi involvement.

It is only a question of time before the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al Qaeda [Images] set up their outfits or sleeper cells in India consisting only of Indian Muslims so that these too could be projected as indigenous Muslim organisations of India and not as Pakistani or Arab organisations.

The pan-Islamic jihad in India to support Al Qaeda's pan-Islamic objectives is sought to be given an Indian facade with the encouragement of the ISI. The ISI's tactics have changed, but not its objective of keeping India bleeding by sustaining and intensifying the activities of jihadi terrorists in Indian territory. Pakistan is presently under international focus because of the activities of Al Qaeda, Taliban and other jihadi organisations in and from its territory.

To divert part of the international attention away from it and project the increase in jihadi terrorism as a sub-continental and not a purely Pakistani phenomenon, the ISI is likely to accelerate this process of giving Al Qaeda-inspired International Islamic Front, of which all these organisationals are members, a sub-continental visage and clothing and project the so-called Kashmir issue as a root cause of this expanding phenomenon.

B Raman

B Raman
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