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Pakistan in the web of Islamic Jihad

Reader comment on item: Musharraf's Historic Speech

Submitted by Vishnu Gupta (India), Mar 11, 2006 at 22:55

Here's an interesting interview from one of the most dangerous terrorists in Pakistan, Hafeez Muhammad Sayeed, directly funded by Bin Laden and the world Ummah. [http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/oct/24inter1.htm]

"...General Musharraf has solicited help from Israel. Is that unIslamic?

We should not solicit help from Israel.
It is the question of Muslim honour and self-respect. The Jews can never be our friends. This is stated by Allah. Instead of Israel, we should seek help from Muslim countries and we should depend on our people."...

Also, on the hand of God theory about the Kashmir Earthquake. A fascinating jihadi twist:

"...How do you look at the earthquake?

The earthquake is the result of the rulers' sinful policies.
They wanted the women to abandon hijab; run with men nude in bikinis; and learn dance and music. They were not afraid of Allah but (US President George) Bush. At his (Bush's) behest, they wanted to purge our schoolbooks from verses on jihad; befriend India and recognise Israel.
They banned all the jihadi outfits and abandoned jihad. They made jihad an abusive term.
They wanted all the Pakistanis to adopt the 'get-up' of Bush. They blatantly ridiculed the commandments of Allah. Thus they invited the wrath of God in the form of the earthquake.

But the earthquake didn't kill the rulers?

Allah knows better why He didn't kill the rulers. He has warned the rulers by killing a section of the population.
He wants the rulers to learn a lesson from the quake and become pious Muslims.
There is also a lesson for common folk like us. We too are sinful. We too should seek Allah's forgiveness and adopt the right path.
Otherwise, a bigger devastation will completely ruin us."...

On Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed, an older report:

...The Lashkar-e-Toiba is the armed wing of the Markaz-e-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI). It was founded in 1987 at the instance of Osama Bin Laden by Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed of Lahore's university of engineering and technology. A co-founder was Abdullah Azam, a Palestinian of the International Islamic University.

Azam was killed in an explosion in Peshawar in 1989. Iqbal and Sayeed have been leading the Markaz since.

The Markaz is Wahabi in orientation and allied to the Ahle Hadith. Originally, it was patronised by Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia began distancing itself when the MDI continued to patronise Bin Laden after it had expelled him.

Bin Laden apparently contributed Rs 10 million for the construction of the huge Jamila mosque in the 190-acre Markaz campus in Muridke 45 kilometers from Lahore. It is not known if Bin Laden also financed a garment factory, an iron foundry, a wood works, a swimming pool and three residential colonies in the campus, or the huge Islamic university being built.

But the Saudi terrorist certainly put in large sums to construct a special guesthouse inside the Muridke complex. It initially served as a home for Bin Laden during visits to Pakistan. But after 1992, it was converted into a guesthouse for his associates from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Ramzi Yousef who killed two CIA officers outside Langley, Washington DC, in January 1993 and bombed the World Trade Center a month later stayed in the guesthouse. His companion was his accomplice in the CIA killings, Mir Aimal Kansi. Both were arrested by Pakistani authorities and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1995.

The growing Markaz-Bin laden connection repelled Saudi Arabia which Markaz contended did not possess an ideal Islamic society. It parroted Bin Laden by criticising the Saudi royal regime for stationing US and other Western troops in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden says that the "holy land" has been "defiled" by the presence of American troops.

And yet, the break up with Saudi Arabia did not affect the fund flow to the Markaz-e-Dawa-wal-Irshad. Officials say that it collects funds in Pakistan and from abroad but the two fund routes are kept separate. The fund collection is marginally easier for the Lashkar than the other Pakistani terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (See Special report, "The killer from Binori," 5 January 2002).

Jaish depends considerably on largesse from the Inter-Services Intelligence to run its terrorist operations in Kashmir. With the ISI ban on funding Kashmir terrorist groups, and General Musharraf's proscription of the Jaish, JeM has been hit. But officials say that the LeT has escaped from the brush with Pakistani law because it has grown independent of the ISI. The two have fought in public and the Lashkar has often disregarded the orders of the ISI.

Lashkar and Markaz

This independence has sprung from Markaz's organisational structure, spread, and varied funding sources. The MDI is involved in religious, educational and social welfare activities. Indian officials say this is a fa├žade. But it is one that has contributed to the military muscle of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The Lashkar has managed to attract thousands of young men committed to jihad since its inception. The driving force behind the massive recruitment success are Lashkar's outreach networks. The Lashkar uses its impressive organisational network including schools, social service groups and religious publications to brainwash recruits for jihad.

A bulk of Lashkar's cadres are unemployed, illiterate Punjabi boys. It is secretive about its total strength and the deployed strength in Kashmir like it is cagey about most other things. Lashkar also conceals the real identities of its office-bearers just as the Markaz does. Only the emir can take a real name.

The office bearers emulate Palestinian terror groups in the use of "Kuniat". Kuniats are Arabic pseudonyms adopted from the "Kuniats" or the Companions of the Prophet and later Islamic heroes.

But the difference is that Kuniats die with the holder in Palestinian organisations. But the same Kuniat is allotted to another office-bearer or terrorist fighter in the Markaz and Lashkar. The Kuniat does not die with the holder. It is not unusual to come across two Lashkar terrorists with the same or similar Kuniats.

Lashkar's secrecy extends to its operations. There are certain distinguishing characteristics about them. "While operating in a Muslim area," said an intelligence official, "they do not normally shave or cut their hair and grow long hair and beards."

Lashkar terrorists also visit barbarity on their victims by beheading and disemboweling them if they are from the security forces and non-Muslim communities. But like other jihadis, they wear salwars that do not cover the ankle.

Markaz vs democracy

In all this, they reveal a medieval flawed interpretation of Islam. They further hold democracy to be anti-Islamic.

In November 1999, Markaz emir Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed declared in Muridke that "We reject democracy…the notion of people's sovereignty is anti-Islamic. Only Allah is sovereign."

The occasion was the Lashkar-e-Toiba's annual conference in which thousands of terrorists participate. The venue was full of placards with the slogan, "Jamhooriat ka jawab, grenade and blast (The answer to democracy, grenade and blast)."

Sayeed has gone on record saying that democracy is a menace inherited from an alien government (Britain). He says that it is impossible to establish an Islamic society with democracy. His position is that you just "dirty" your hands by dealing with it. "If God gives us a chance," Sayeed has said, "we will try to bring in the pure concept of an Islamic Caliphate."

This would have made the Markaz a natural ally of Mullah Mohammad Omar's Taliban regime. Except that realpolitik came in the way and destabilised their relations. But this did not stop Hafiz Sayeed from persisting with his anti-democracy speeches.

He vowed to launch a jihad to turn Pakistan into a pure Islamic state in the 1997 and 1999 annual conferences in Muridke which provoked small uproars in the Pakistani media. But he said that his more immediate targets were Hindus and Jews (in that order) who he described as the main enemies of Islam. He also labeled India and Israel as the principal foes of Pakistan.

Sayeed argued that Hinduism had corrupted the Islam in Kashmir (Sufism, for example) and Pakistan. Once Hinduism was gotten rid off from India, the Markaz could make Kashmir and Pakistan Wahabi. He said in the Lahore press club in February 1996 that the jihad in Kashmir would soon spread throughout India. "Our mujahideen will create three Pakistans in India," he boasted.

By then, Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorism was fullblown in Kashmir. The 21-day basic military training called "Daura Aam" and the three months' advanced course called "Daura Khas" emboldened Lashkar terrorists to take on the Indian Army. Lashkar terrorism increased dramatically after the May-July 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan. Together with Jaish-e-Mohammad, it began undertaking Fidayeen or suicide attacks against Indian Army camps.

Last year, the Lashkar had a direct role in 143 terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Thirty-nine of them were major incidents in which more than 10 people were killed. In line with its anti-Hindu ideology, Lashkar terrorists have murdered Hindu pilgrims, priests, farmers and railway passengers in the state. The Lashkar, under the direction of Pakistan's current chairman, joint chiefs, General Mohammad Aziz, murdered 36 innocent Sikhs in Chhatisinghpora during (former) US president Bill Clinton's visit to India in March 2000.

The murders prompted the Clinton administration to force the Musharraf regime to deny Lashkar permission to hold its annual November conference in Muridke. Last year, General Musharraf gave permission for the conference in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. But the Markaz-e-Dawa and the Lashkar-e-Toiba prevailed on the government to have the deferred 2000 conference in Muridke.

The 13-15 April 2001 conference was reportedly attended by the former ISI chief, Lieutenant-General Mehmoud Ahmed. Ahmed was sacked five month later for plotting a coup with General Aziz and deputy army chief Lieutenant-General K.Usmani. Days before that, Ahmed had urged the Taliban not to handover Bin Laden to the American government. Ahmed had also got $100,000 wired to the 11-September terrorist Mohammad Atta.

Ghaznavi's followers

At the April 2001 conference that Ahmed attended, the Lashkar-e-Toiba passed a resolution calling on its cadres to follow the example of Mahmood Ghaznavi and capture Hindu temples, destroy the idols, and hoist the flag of Islam on them. For the sake of discretion, General Musharraf asked the ISI to ensure that no Pakistani or foreign journalist gained access to the conference.

But the Lashkar-e-Toiba made no attempts to cover up its terrorism in Kashmir. Throughout 2001, it continued to operate six private military training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir where thousands of cadres were given military and religious education. Its two-dozen launching camps along the Line of Control were in place. And it boasted of 2,200 unit offices across Pakistan. Inarguably, Lashkar had the biggest terrorist network in Pakistan.

The ban after General Musharraf's 12-January 2002 speech has not affected this infrastructure. The Lashkar's armoury of assault rifles, light and heavy machineguns, mortars, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades are safe but hidden. No notice boards proclaim the presence of Lashkar-e-Toiba. But the organisation is throbbing with activity. Some of its cadres have been arrested. But the bulk of them have disappeared.

Funds are flowing from the Pakistani community abroad, the Middle East and United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs, and Pakistani and Kashmiri businessmen. The Lashkar's links with religious and military groups in an arc of territory from the Philippines to the Middle East and Chechnya have remained in place.

The Lashkar and Markaz-e-Dawa are slowly gearing up to challenge the Pakistani government. If General Musharraf loosens the grip on the extremist and terrorist groups, the Lashkar-e-Toiba would lead the jihad in Pakistan. It's a gloves off fight for survival.

Two Markaz men need watching since emir Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed is under house arrest while Wahid Kashmiri is a figurehead. The first of them is Yusuf Taibi who is in charge of external relations. The second is Amri Hamza who edits the journal called Majila al Dawa.

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