The US Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisation under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SGDT) under section 1(b) of the Executive Order 13224. The move comes as a big blow to the terrorist outfit operating out of Kashmir and helmed by Pakistan-based Syed Salahuddin, who was also designated as a global terrorist recently by the US.
A notification by the US Department of State says Hizbul Mujahideen, formed in 1989, is one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in Kashmir. “Hizbul Mujahideen is led by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014, explosives attack in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people,” it said.
What is Hizbul Mujahideen
According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Hizbul Mujahideen is one of the largest terrorist organisations currently operating in Kashmir. It has a cadre base drawn from local and foreign sources. It is one of the 32 organisations banned under India’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.
Hizbul Mujahideen was founded in September 1989 with Master Ahsan Dar as its head. Dar was arrested in mid-December 1993. Reports say Hizbul Mujahideen was formed as the militant wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organisation, at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI to counter Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which advocated total independence of Jammu and Kashmir. This was against Pakistan’s open wish to take control of the state.
SATP says many of the initial Hizbul cadres were JKLF members. Mohammed Yusuf Shah, who is popoularly known as Syed Salahuddin, approved the ‘Constitution’ of Hizbul in 1990. Reportedly, differences between Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and non JeI factions of Hizbul led to its divisions into groups led by Salahuddin and one Hilal Ahmed Mir, who was killed in 1993.
Hizbul Mujahideen is fighting for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. It has also worked for Islamisation of Kashmir since its inception, says SATP.
At present, Hizbul Mujahideen has its headquarters at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Valley.
While Hizbul Mujahideen is liked to JeI both in Kashmir and in Pakistan, it is also believed to be supported by Ghulam Nabi Fai’s Kashmir American Council and Ayub Thakur’s World Kashmir Freedom Movement in the US. It is also closely linked to ISIS, United Jehad Council and other terror groups operating from Pakistan.
What the US designations for Hizbul Mujahideen means
The US Department of State notification seeks to deny the resources needed by the terrorist outfit to carry out attacks. All of Hizbul Mujahideeen property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are now blocked, and citizens of the country are also prohibited from having any transactions with the group.
“Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that HM (Hijbul Mujahideen) is a terrorist organization. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments,” the notification said.
What is Executive Order 13224?
According to the US state department, then President George Bush had signed Executive Order 13224 on September 23, 2001, giving the US government a powerful tool to impede terrorist funding. It was considered a part of the US’ national commitment to lead the international effort to bring a halt to the evil of terrorist activity.
The order provides a means to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations by authorizing the US government to designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.
It says, “The order authorizes the US government to block the assets of individuals and entities that provide support, services, or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists and terrorist organizations designated under the Order, as well as their subsidiaries, front organizations, agents, and associates.”