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In the Spotlight: Harkat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HuJI)
The Harkat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HuJI), or Movement for an Islamic Holy War, is one of many Pakistani terrorist groups active in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Unlike most Kashmiri terrorist groups, the HuJI originated outside the immediate area (in this case Afghanistan), later moving its operations to Indian territory. The HuJI was launched in 1980 as part of a network of Pakistan-backed mujahideen groups fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Over the last two decades, the group spread its activities to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), parts of India, as well as Bangladesh, allegedly with support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The group has been responsible for regular attacks on Indian troops as well as government officials in J&K. HuJI was suspected of being involved in the attack on the Kolkata office of the United States Information Service on Jan. 22, 2002. The group was designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. State Department in “Other Terrorist Groups” category on April 29, 2004.
At the outset of the Afghan resistance in 1980, two Pakistan-based religious groups called the Jamaat ul-Ulema-e-Islami (JuI) and the Tabligh-I-Jamaat (TiJ) established the HuJI. The aim was to run relief camps for the Afghan mujahideen, under the leadership of Maulvi Irshad Ahmed. The affluent Pakistani Punjabi business community enjoyed traditional links with TiJ and JuI, and heavily funded the HuJI missions. The objectives of the group soon evolved to include the defeat of the Soviet military in Afghanistan and to establish Islamic rule in the country. Over time, the HuJI developed links with Pakistan’s ISI and was subcontracted to recruit and train mujahideen. During the Afghan war, the HuJI developed extensive links with Afghan groups such as the Hizb-e-Islami-Yunus Khalis faction (HeI-K), and later splintered into the Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and the Jamait-ul-Mujahideen (JuM). Once the Afghan war came to an end, the group quickly moved its operations from Afghanistan to Indian J&K.
The goal of HuJI, like other terrorist groups in J&K, is to seek secession of the state from Indian control, primarily through targeted violence. Often, the group is also blamed for violence in other parts of India as well as in Bangladesh. The first terrorist attacks by HuJI members were reported in early 1992. Then deputy chief commander, Nasarullah Mansur Langaryal, focused his efforts on southern Kashmir where there was a thinner deployment of Indian forces. A training camp was established near Kapran on the slopes of Pir Panjal mountain range. Langaryal later took over leadership of HuM but was arrested in November 1993. HuJI chief Gulzar Ahmed Tantrey and his deputy Abdul Rashid Dangar were killed in an encounter at Chanjlu in Doda district on Dec. 12, 2001. Since then, there have been no reports of a successor leadership.
A Bangladeshi unit of the group was established in 1992 with financial aid from Osama bin Laden, and under the leadership of Shawkat Osman, alias Sheikh Farid, and Imtiaz Quddus as general secretary. This unit has been active since 2000, and is responsible for aiding terrorists in India’s northeast, as well as recruiting Bangladeshi and Indian Muslims to fight in J&K. This group, HuJI-B, also aims to establish Islamic government in Bangladesh by killing progressive intellectuals. The HuJI-B has an estimated strength of 1,500 members.
In 1991, the religious ulemas of Karachi, Pakistan, asked the three splinter factions – HuJI, JuM, and HuM – to reunite in order to increase the effectiveness of their participation in the Kashmir insurgency. This reunited version was named the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA). While the HuA was formally formed in Pakistan, the merger of the three factions’ units in J&K was to be achieved by the HuA General Secretary Maulana Masood Azhar. On Feb. 10, 1994, 19 leaders of the HuJI, HuM and the JuM met at Matigund, Anantnag, district of J&K, to discuss the merger. While returning from the meeting, Masood Azhar and the HuA’s military chief, Sajjad Afghani, were arrested in Srinagar. With these arrests, the move to reunite the three HuJI factions into the HuA remained unsuccessful. However, stray incidents of terrorist violence perpetrated by the HuJI in J&K continue to be reported.
The HuJI continues to be supported by the religious elite in Pakistan, primarily through the JuI and TiJ. It also received financial support from the ISI, while receiving operational support from the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The HuJI has extensive links with HuM, JuM, and the HeI-K.
Established: c. 1980
Founders: JuI, TiJ
Area of Operation: Initially Afghanistan, later southern Kashmir, training camps in Kapran on slopes of Pir Panjal mountain range
Goal: to seek secession of the state from Indian control, primarily through targeted violence
Funding: primarily through the ISI, also Pakistani Punjabi business community
Affiliated Groups: JuI, HuM, TiJ, SIMI, JuM, HeI-K, HuJI-B, HuA
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