One of the terrorist groups that Pakistan uses to foment terrorism in India is Hizb ul Mujahideen (HM), headed by Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. He is also the head of the United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella organisation of terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
As Pakistan’s performance in implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan against state sponsorship for terrorism comes up for review in October, there is mounting evidence of Islamabad’s continuing support to terror as an instrument of its state policy. India’s security agencies have unearthed a new document that confirms links of one of its proxies with Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This is likely to further muddy the waters as the FATF plenary decides whether to keep Pakistan in its grey list or demote it further down to the blacklist — from which China, Turkey and Malaysia saved it twice.
Acting on the instructions of his Pakistan masters, the Hizb chief has been instrumental in carrying out anti-India propaganda and terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. He has time and again accepted Pakistan’s role in funding terrorist and secessionist activities in Kashmir.
In an interview in June 2012, the Hizb head had admitted to fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir. He even threatened to take the war to Islamabad if it withdrew support to him.
Salahuddin had announced further that “the mujahideen (holy Islamic warrior) struggle serves as a defence line for Pakistan”. The arrest of his sons Syed Shakeel Yousuf and Syed Shahid Yousuf and the recent killing of two of his close associates Riyaz Naikoo and Adil Ahmed by Indian security forces (on 6 May) seemed to have rattled the Hizb chief, making him increasingly desperate.
Salahuddin executes terrorist activities on Indian soil through a number of proxy NGOs and charities that the ISI and other Pakistan-based entities support. Among the most prominent of these is the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART).
The Hizb chief uses JKART to recruit terrorists by offering them financial incentives and promising to take care of their family members once they are ‘martyred’. JKART’s head office is in Rawalpindi with branches in Islamabad, Muzaffarabad (PoJK), among others.
Indian security agencies recently obtained specific evidence of direct links between ISI and Salahuddin. A letter issued in the name of Mohammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin certifies that he is a bonafide official of the Directorate of Intelligence and is working for the ISI. The letter even suggested that he had been “security-cleared”. It said he should not be “unnecessarily stopped”. The certificate is valid up to 31 December 2020.
But it is not the Hizb chief alone who enjoys VIP treatment from the Pakistani establishment. Pakistan shelters an estimated 130 malcontents that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has declared to be terrorists. Pakistan has provided access to these terrorist organisations to its banking system for carrying out nefarious terror activities in India and elsewhere.
Recent charge sheets of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) uncover the linkages between terrorists and the deep state in Pakistan. The FATF is likely to take a serious view of these terror links of Pakistan as it reviews the action plan for the Islamic ‘republic’ next month.