Harkat named but most members are now with Masood Azhar’s Jaish
30 September 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: New Delhi may have reason to be disappointed at the list of 27 individuals or groups whose financial assets were frozen by Washington for suspected links with terrorists. For, the only one with a link to Kashmir is the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and that, too, is now virtually defunct in the Valley. In fact, a majority of its members joined Masood Azhar, a key leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, after his release by the Government during the IC-814 hijack and floated the Jaish-e-Mohammed which is now active in the Valley. Sources said that given Pakistan’s active support to the US in its campaign to hunt down Osama, the focus is now on the Taliban and it is ‘‘unrealistic’’ to expect Washington—as of now, at least—to blacklist groups that are active in the Valley, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The Lashkar has few links with the Taliban because it is not a Deobandi group, its members being from the Ahlihadee sect in Pakistan. Ironically, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was the first pan-Islamic jehadi group to begin operations in the Valley in 1992-93. It was the militant outfit of the Jamiat-e-Ulemai-Islam of Pakistan, a Deobandi religious group led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil. Sidelined by the ISI and the CIA during the Afghan war, Khalil was instrumental in establishing a chain of madrasas in the frontier province to feed the Taliban. In 1994, the Harkat-ul- Mujahideen, which had mostly Afghan war veterans, merged with another Pak-based group, the Harkat-e-Jehadi-Islami, to form the Harkat-ul- Ansar. A year later, it got international attention after the kidnapping of four foreign tourists. The group claiming responsibility was the Al Faran but security agencies now believe that this was merely the Harkat’s front. It was after this kidnapping that the US banned the Harkat-ul-Ansar which then promptly reverted to its earlier name, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.