HuM vows fight against India, Northern Alliance
17 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
DOABA (PANJSHER VALLEY): Militants belonging to Pakistan-backed Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), jailed by the Northern Alliance in this remote prison alongwith over 300 Taliban fighters, are hoping to get out on a general amnesty vowing to fight against India in Kashmir and the new regime in Afghanistan. ''We hope to get out of the prison soon as we have heard that the new President Hamid Karzai would give general amnesty to all prisoners. We cannot make any compromise on our goal -to wrest Kashmir from India and reinstate Taliban,'' HuM commander Ubeidullah Assad, who alongwith nine other militants of the group is kept in this obscure prison located 120 km from Kabul, told PTI. Director of Doaba jail, commander Soami, who refused to give his real name, said of the 330 prisoners held by Northern Alliance (NA), 10 were from Pakistan, 4 Arabs, 3 from Burma, 2 from China and the rest Afghan Talibans. The Arabs were fighting under the command of one Abdulla, a close confidante of Osama bin Laden and a key figure in Al Qaeda network, he said. ''There is a possiiibility that when Mr Karzai takes over as the President, these prisoners will be released,'' commander Soami said adding they were captured from various parts of Afghanistan. Like the Taliban, HuM militants were also wearing ‘Kajal’ - all 10 of them. Apart from commander Assad, who had received a year’s commando training at Al-Qaeda-run military camp at Riskhor near Kabul during Taliban regime, the other captured militants were Abdul Zabbar, Abdullah Osama, Saleh, Mohammed Sahid and Hasan Gamkash (all from Karachi), Salauddin Khalid and Zafar Iqbal (Baluchistan), Sher Khan (Rawalpindi) and Mohammed Israr (Peshwar). Why did they support Taliban? ''Because we shared ideology with them. Like us, they also wanted to establish Islamic Jamuriat (democracy). NA was their enemy, hence our enemy too,'' said 27-year- old bespectacled Assad. All the other militants were in the age group of 22-30 years. Who asked them to come here? ''Mufti Rashid of a Karachi Madrasa advised us to go to Kabul and fight for Taliban,'' said Abdul Zabbar, who also received military training at the Rishkhor camp. What is their future plan? Assad said ''we hope to get out of the prison. Once we get out of here we would seek the advice of our high command as to whether to continue fight here or comeback and go to Kashmir''. Why do they want to fight in Kashmir? ''India has wrested Kashmir forcefully. Kashmir being predominantly Muslim should have been with Pakistan. We would not rest in peace till we recapture it,'' said Assad. Is the Pakistan Government backing them? ''We are fighting on our own sweet will for the cause of Islam and Pakistan is supporting us. But we decide our agenda and don’t let the Government interfere in it,'' said Assad, who got the commander’s rank in HuM after the one-year cammando training and then one-and-a-half years’ of active fighting against NA. Once as commander he was given charge of a 10-member unit. While he had a wireless set and a pistol, his team members were armed with Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers, a peka (Afghani for machine gun) and a snipper. From where do they get funds for the fight? ''There are around 300 HuM offices in Pakistan which collect funds through religious organisations and individuals in the name of ‘Jehad’ (holy war). We also get donations from Islamic countries,'' said Assad, who was captured by NA at Salong near Jabul Siraj while fighting for Taliban. After receiving the training, the HuM militants were asked to report at the outfit’s office in Wazir Akbar Khan area, very near to the presidential palace in Kabul. Asked whether they had links with Al Qaeda, they said, ''we did not know who was from Al Qaeda. But part of our training was conducted by Arabs at Rishkhor camp''. In Kabul, residents of Sahr-e-Nao and Wazir Akbar Khan area showed this correspondent houses from which HuM militants used to operate. The locals near the former Cuban embassy also confirmed about the presence of this militant group. Rishkhor, 15 km southwest of Kabul, was the training base for Pakistani volunteers. The special training centre here reportedly trained 1,000 to 1,500 fighters at one point of time during Taliban regime. Though these operational bases were visited by this correspondent, there are reports that Pakistani volunteers were garrisoned at the former national guard headquarters at Badam Bagh and the 8th division headquarters at Qargah. The report also said the main forward base for some 500-800 of these fighters was said to be at Khanabad behind the frontline and suggested that the HuM headquarters to be near Parigul mosque.