August 2007 News

Separatists In Hot Spot As Al-Qaeda Refers To Kashmir

7 August 2007
The Indian Express

Srinagar: With the al-Qaeda mentioning Kashmir in its latest video, which puts US embassies on top of its hitlist, separatists in the Valley are struggling to formulate a response to the association of their campaign with a pan-Islamic jihadi outfit. Though none of the major separatist conglomerates has rushed to deny an al-Qaeda role in the state, they view the development as 'very serious'. On Sunday, an al- Qaeda spokesman, Adam Gaddahn a.k.a. Azzam al Amriki, in a video message, identified Indo-US diplomatic missions as legitimate targets for the terror outfit. He also accused India of killing one lakh Kashmiris, suddenly bringing the state on the compass of the outfit's jihadi discourse. 'We are still going through the statement. They have incidentally mentioned Kashmir. It does not mean they are operating from the state,' Ayaz Akber, the spokesman of the hardline Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, told The Indian Express. At the same, Akber underlined that the hardline Hurriyat's position on the al-Qaeda was well-known. ' We are against any role for them in Kashmir. Our struggle is purely indigenous.' The moderate Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also insisted the Kashmir struggle was political in nature and rooted in the troubled history of the past six decades. 'Kashmir solution is not a part of the pan-Islamic agenda,' its spokesman Shahidul Islam said, adding that they had always opposed the presence of the al- Qaeda in the state. 'This has been our official line.' Incidentally, the statement came just two months after a locally generated video in Kashmir announced the entry of the al-Qaeda into the state. However, the video, which accused all Kashmiri separatist and militant outfits of selling out on Kashmir and slammed the talks process between India and Pakistan, was soon dismissed as fake. The United Jihad Council -an amalgam of Kashmiri militant groups -had, at the time, questioned both the existence and need for al-Qaeda in the state. Calling it a conspiracy of the 'Indian agencies', the Hizbul Mujahideen had said the al-Qaeda video was 'aimed at destroying the indigenous character of the separatist movement and label it international terrorism'. It had also urged the people to make it clear to the world that Kashmiris can wage their own struggle and do not need the al-Qaeda. With Gaddahn making a mention of the state in an al-Qaeda broadcast, the separatists fear they may have a harder time convincing others of the 'indigenous' nature of their 'azadi movement'.


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