Follow us on

|

The Tanzeems and their leaders

Print edition : Aug 19, 2000 T+T-
PRAVEEN SWAMIHizbul Mujahideen

IN November 1989, when efforts to win over the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to its pro-Pakistan project failed, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) recruited JKLF cadre to set up a new organisation. Mohammad Ashraf Dar, Maqbool Illahi and Abdullah Bangroo formed al-Badr, which was renamed Hizbul Mujahideen shortly afterwards. Ahsan Dar, who was recently released from jail only to form a new organisation, was appointed its chief. By 1991, major groups, such as the Tehreek-e-Jihad Islami le d by Abdul Majid Dar, the Hizb negotiator with the Union government, had merged with the new outfit.

On November 11 1991, Mohammad Yusuf Shah, who goes by the name Syed Salahuddin, took over the operation, replacing Ahsan Dar. The move marked the takeover of the Hizb by the Jamaat-e-Islami. Dar, after being kidnapped in May 1992, was forced to set up a new organisation, the Muslim Mujahideen. The Muslim Mujahideen is now a pro-India militia, operating in the Acchabal area under the command of Ghulam Nabi Azad.

From the outset, the Hizb has adopted aggressive, and often communal postures. Responsible for an estimated 65 per cent of the violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the organisation is behind the liquidation of several Muslim religious leaders opposed to the Ja maat-e-Islami worldview and has played a role, though less frequently than other organisations, in mass killings of Hindus. It has backed bans on cinema and other supposed vices.

The Hizb has its own news agency, Kashmir Press International, and a women's wing, Banat-ul-Islam. Overseas, it is backed by Ghulam Nabi Fai's Kashmir American Council and Ayub Thakur's World Kashmir Freedom Movement.

Al-Badr

The name al-Badr was revived for use by the Pakistan and Afghan cadres of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the summer of 1998. Its formation came about as a result of growing differences between Kashmiri-origin cadre of the Hizb, and the insurgents pumped in by Pakistan, over issues such as leadership, funding and the direction of their activities. The final break came after the Jamaat-e-Kashmir Amir G.M. Bhat called for an end to armed struggle, a move which incensed the Hizbul Mujahideen's foreign cadres.

Early efforts to give al-Badr a Kashmiri face by recruiting Majid Dar, failed. Its leadership is now wholly Pakistani. Its commander-in-chief, Nasser Ahmed, and supreme commander, Bhakt Zaman, are both residents of Peshawar. In 1999, because of the natur e of its cadre, the Lashkar-e-Taiba announced it would work closely with this organisation. Al-Badr has rejected the Hizbul Mujahideen's peace initiative. Tensions are certain to simmer in the months to come. The organisation is, however, relatively smal l, with less than 50 operatives estimated to be active in Jammu and Kashmir at any given time.

Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen

The Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM) was the first breakaway faction of the Hizbul Mujahideen, and was born of personality clashes between Ahsan Dar and Hilal Ahmed Mir, who died some years ago in an encounter. Mir, who used the code-name Nasr-ul-Islam, in gen eral took positions to the right of the Hizbul Mujahideen. The JuM attacked the telecast of the Hindi television serial, Bible ki Kahaniyan ("Bible stories"), and issued a series of edicts against the media. It had some successes until 1996, but d espite executing a series of bomb blasts directed at National Conference (N.C.) leaders, it was soon marginalised. The JuM's other key enemy was the All Parties Hurriyat Conference(APHC), which, it felt, had no right to represent the insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir. Several JuM leaders were eliminated in a series of operations after 1996, leaving its cadre disorganised and increasingly fragmented.

Lashkar-e-Taiba

The Lashkar-e-Taiba is the armed wing of the Markaz Dawa wal'Irshad, which was formed in 1980 by figures affiliated to the Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadis, a puritanical sect which believes that religious legitimacy is derived only from the sayings and acts of Prophe t Mohammad and his family. With a growing base among shopkeepers, lower-level bureaucrats, army personnel and students in Pakistan, the Lashkar received significant covert Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aid in the early 1990s, and fought along with th e Jamaat al-Dawat w'al-Quran wa Sunna in Afghanistan. It developed links with other reactionary Islamist groups, notably the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen of Egypt.

Its operations in India were given form at the sixth annual convention of the Markaz in November 1993, when its chief, Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, announced that Kashmir was the gateway to the liberation of Indian Muslims. The Lashkar had supplied cadre to al -Barq earlier, but it launched its first independent operations in Jammu and Kashmir on February 5, 1993, when 12 insurgents attacked the headquarters of the 11 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry at Balnoi in Poonch. Two soldiers and three Lashkar insurgen ts were killed in the attack. Since then, the organisation has been responsible for hundreds of deaths and large number of communal massacres in the State.

When it appeared that the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Union government would hold a dialogue, the Lashkar urged Pakistan to resume hostilities in India.

Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen

Best known for its role in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 from Kathmandu in December 1999, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen has gained notoriety as the most ruthless and communal organisation active in State.

The Harkat's story began in 1980, when cadre of the Jamaat-ul-Ullema and the Tabligh-i-Jamaat in Pakistan volunteered to participate in the United States-sponsored jehad in Afghanistan. Prominent among them were the organisation's supreme commande r Fazl-ul-Rehman Khalil and other leaders, Irshad Ahmed, Maulana Masood Kashmiri and Qari Saifullah Akhtar. Through the years, the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami has grown in numbers and political influence.

In 1985, the organisation faced something of a crisis when the difference between Khalil and Akhtar became irreconcilable. Khalil launched the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. Masood Kashmiri went along with Khalil, only to split again and form the Jamait-ul-Mujahi deen. The fights had theological overtones, but the spoils of the Afghan war had not a little to do with their genesis. It was only in 1991, when the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami changed its leader, that unification efforts could begin. In October 1993, Maulan a Kalimullah Khan, Mufti Rafi Usman and Deobandi ullema succeeded in bringing the organisation together.

The new organisation, the Harkat-ul-Ansar, became one of the most feared outfits in Jammu and Kashmir. It was, however, forced to change its name in the wake of the U.S. action that followed the kidnapping of five foreign hostages from Pahalgam, and thei r subsequent murder.

Jaish-e-Mohammadi

Jaish-e-Mohammadi (Army of the Prophet) was set up by Maulana Masood Azhar shortly after his return to Pakistan following the terrorists-for-hostages swap at Kandahar airport, where the hijacked Indian Airlines flight was detained. Azhar found himself at odds with the Harkat-ul-Ansar's amir, Maulana Sadatullah, and deputy amir, Maulana Fazl-ul-Rehman Khalil, over finance and influence. After a brief period of inactivity, during which he got married, Azhar travelled to Afghanistan and met Saudi fugitive Osama bin-Laden. Bin-Laden is believed to have extended generous funding to the Jaish-e-Mohammadi. As a result, three quarters of the Harkat's cadre in Jammu and Kashmir are believed to have defected to the new organisation.

Bar a series of high-profile bombings, the Jaish-e-Mohammadi has not been able to establish a secure ground presence in Jammu and Kashmir so far. Its sole real catch is Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, alias Latram, the one-time chief of al-Umar who was released al ong with Azhar. Zargar has not, however, returned to Jammu and Kashmir. Azhar's deputy Maulana Shamzai, launching commander Mufti Mohammad and the organisation's Kashmir Valley commander, Saifullah, are all former Harkat members. The organisation has som e appeal among the youth in urban Jammu and Kashmir and has been able to recruit them with a degree of success.

Tehreek Jihad-e-Islami, Muslim Janbaaz Force and Al-Jihad Force

Nazir Ahmed Wani formed the People's League in September 1974 as a political organisation. But rapidly it gave birth to a welter of terrorist groups. In 1979, its leaders formulated a three-year plan for an uprising against the Indian government. In 1988 , its leader Abdul Aziz Sheikh returned to the State from Pakistan, and began organising cadre for armed action. Later that year, however, the League split with Shabbir Shah and S. Hamid forming the now-defunct Muslim Janbaaz Force, while Sheikh and Moha mmad Farooq Rehmani set up the Tehreek Jihad-e-Islami.

Most of the Tehreek's cadre joined the Hizbul Mujahideen by 1993, although the mediator in the negotiations between the Hizb and the Union government, Fazl-ul-Haq Qureishi, tried to revive the organisation along with Rehmani in January 1994. The Hizbul M ujahideen's Majid Dar knew Qureishi during his Tehreek days.

Hamid, after years of inactivity, attempted to set up a new organisation, al-Jihad, provoking another split, with Firdaus Ahmed Baba alias Babar Badr setting up a new faction of the Muslim Janbaaz Force. Hamid was killed in an encounter last year. Al-Jih ad emerged as the second largest unit in the Kashmir Valley for a while, but was wiped out by 1994, in part as a result of power struggles within the Hizbul Mujahideen. Qureishi went to jail and emerged years later, alienated from the war he helped begin . His role in the peace efforts illustrates the respect with which he continues to be held.