Exclusive: Jamaat-ud Dawa – Truth and Fiction (Part 2 of 3)
by ADRIAN MORGAN
December 23, 2008
Click here for Part One.
The Kashmir Conflict
Jamaat ud-Dawa has long denied its involvement in terror attacks, even though it was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations. It is described as a front for the notorious terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, or LeT. The designation was made under the terms of UN Resolution 1276, which was introduced to deal with groups related to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, also spelled Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Toiba, was proscribed by the UN in May 2005.
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who heads Jamaat ud-Dawa, originally founded LeT and a group called Markaz Daw'a wal Irshad (MDI), a precursor of LeT. On December 11 2008, Saeed was placed under house arrest. He has been placed under house arrest on several occasions, but never formally indicted for any major crime.
When President Musharraf of Pakistan outlawed LeT on January 12, 2002, funds from LeT were transferred directly to Jamaat ud-Dawa (JuD). At that time Saeed was undergoing his first experience of house arrest in Pakistan. He would be released on parole in February 2002, and officially released on March 31, 2002. The former spokesman for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was a man called Yahya Mujahid (pictured). At the start of 2002, he became the main spokesman for JuD.
In 2005, Mujahid told Australian documentary show Dateline: "Even before Lashka-e-toiba was banned it became Jamat-ud-Dawa in Pakistan. The chief of Jamat-ud-Dawa is Professor Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Lashka-e-toiba was operating under his name. He said quite emphatically they have no connection with Lashka-e-toiba. Lashka-e-toiba is doing jihad for the Kashmiris. And it has been handed over to a Kashmiri executive body. They run it. And that executive body is looking after it. They are responsible for running it. They also run the organisation in Indian-controlled Kashmir."
Muhajid subsequently contradicted this claim. He declared in an interview for the same Australian broadcasters that "Even when I was the spokesperson for Lashkar e-Toiba, I stressed that the organization was not involved in activities, including international activities – we are limited to Pakistan, only (involved) in legal activities."
On October 26, 1947, weeks after the independence of Pakistan and India, Jammu and Kashmir was officially handed to India. A few days earlier, Pakistani troops had entered Kashmir. War broke out between the two newly-independent nations. Despite UN rulings, Kashmir has been split in two. A Line of Control divides the Indian state of Jammu & Kashir from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). Pakistan has never accepted India's legal claim on Kashmir, and has staged and sponsored numerous covert and overt military actions.
Indian sources claim that Pakistan has sponsored ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Kashmir. LeT first came into being around 1990 but was first recorded in 1993 following an incursion across the Line of Control by Pakistani and Afghan LeT members, working with a local Islamist group calling itself Islami Inquilabi Mahaz. From 1996 to 1999, LeT mainly specialized in massacring Hindu civilians in both POK and Jammu & Kashmir state.
In May 1999 during a time of "accord" between Pakistan and India, the Pakistani army embarked upon an ill-fated crossing of the Line of Control. They reached as far as Kargil before being confronted by Indian troops. This incident became known as the Kargil War, and was the latest of the three wars between the two countries. At the time Pervez Musharraf was head of the Pakistan army and Nawaz Sharif was the Pakistani prime minister. It has been suggested that Israel assisted India at Kargil , allowing them to prevail in the brief conflict. Perhaps it is for this reason that the terrorists in the recent Mumbai attacks targeted the Orthodox Jewish center called Nariman House.
In July 2000, LeT admitted it had been involved with the Kargil conflict. Zafar Iqbal, a senior LeT leader at the group's Pakistan headquarters in Muridke in Lahore, made the claim. He had also said that LeT had training camps near Muzzafarabad in POK, and students from the Muridke compound had been sent there.
In July 1999 at the end of the Kargil conflict, LeT leader Hafiz Mohammed Saeed claimed: "This was round one which we have won. Now round two of jihad has started." He rejected Pakistan's call to withdraw troops, stating: "Now the jihad will spread all across Kashmir, it will spread to every peak, every forest and every path... The liberation of Kashmir is close now. No one can stop that."
There are numerous Islamist groups whose main aim is to "liberate" Kashmir from Indian control. Most of these are small, such as the group calling itself Islami Inquilabi Mahaz. LeT is among the top five. There is much cooperation between these groups – they have an alliance called the United Jihad Council, which is headed by Syed Salahuddin, aka Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah (pictured). Salahuddin is head of the group Hizbul Muhajideen, the largest of the Kashmiri Islamist fronts. LeT is one of the 15 members of this alliance.
Though LeT and Hizbul have worked together, there is also some rivalry, which has occasionally broken out into open conflict. Shortly after Hafiz Mohammed Saeed "resigned" from LeT to concentrate on the Pakistan-based Jamaat ud-Dawa, it was reported in the Indian media that Pakistan's intelligence agency, called ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) was financially supporting LeT. Originally, ISI was said to have preferentially sponsored Hizbul Mujahideen.
It appears that – due to its control of certain regions of Kashmir – LeT became a more useful strategic ally to Pakistan than Hizbul during the Kargil conflict, but it is rumored that – long before Kargil – LeT was founded with assistance from ISI. Hamid Gul was the head of the ISI from 1987 – 1989. Gul, whose hatred of the West and democracy is well-attested, recently denied allegations that he had been a political patron of LeT. The current president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, claimed this month that Gul was "more of a political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter."
Zardari said: "Hamid Gul is an actor who is definitely not in our good books. Hamid Gul is somebody who was never appreciated by our government." In 1989 Zardari's wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, had sacked Gul from his post as ISI Director General. Zardari admitted that the ISI had earlier been involved with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, but these links had been forged "in the old days when dictators used to run the country."
On December 7, 2008, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. When asked what relationship LeT had to "the Pakistani Government or the intelligence or military services," she confirmed: "Well, there have been historic ties. There's no doubt about that. But Pakistan is a different place now with a civilian government and an army leadership that is working in concert to try to bring an end to extremism within Pakistan."
Despite public suggestions that ISI's links with Lashkar-e-Tayyiba have historically ended, privately some U.S. officials suspect otherwise. A report in the New York Times from December 8, 2008 mentions their belief that ISI "shared intelligence with Lashkar and provided protection for it." It is suspected by officials from the U.S. and India that one senior LeT member – Zarrar Shah – liaised with ISI and may have been involved with the recent Mumbai terror plot. On Wednesday December 10, 2008, Pakistan announced that it had placed Zarrar Shah under arrest.
Jamaat ud-Dawa's leader and terrorism
The Kashmir conflict molded the early aims of LeT, but after the Kargil War, the group became more ambitious. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who founded LeT, claims that he has never supported terrorism. Many Islamist terrorists who deny their terrorism often claim that "innocent" people are never killed. LeT and Saeed are no exception. Unfortunately, the Hindu civilians that LeT murdered in Kashmir were seen as "invaders" of a Muslim land, as "guilty" as the Indian military. LeT had a monthly publication called "Majalah al Dawa" in which it would record deaths of Indian soldiers at the hands of militants. Between 1999 and 2000, this publication claimed, LeT carried out 98 suicide attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
While he was still the official "amir" of LeT, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed must have been aware of the escalating scale of LeT's attacks against India. On the evening of Friday December 22, 2003, a group of six LeT activists staged an ambitious attack against India's historic Red Fort. This building, constructed in the 17th century, is a major landmark in Delhi. The gunmen invaded an army supply depot inside the fort and shot dead an army guard, a soldier and a barber employed by the army. Four days later, some of the assailants were captured. One of the LeT terrorists was shot dead during the arrests. The senior member of the arrested LeT terrorists – Pakistani national Ashfaq Ahmed – claimed under interrogation that he had been sent to Delhi by Pakistan's ISI to create a base for "subversive" operations. He had set up a computer center in the city with his wife.
On Monday October 31, 2005, Ashfaq Ahmed, also known as Mohammed Arif – was sentenced to death. Six others – including Ahmed's wife – were given jail terms. On September 13, 2007 some of the accused, including Ahmed's wife, were acquitted. Two men had life sentences upheld, and Ashfaq Ahmed's death sentence was upheld.
On December 13, 2001, the Indian parliament building was attacked by Islamist gunmen. Nine Indian nationals, including five policemen, were killed. This attack pushed India and Pakistan to the brink of war. The Indian government blamed Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. The latter group is led by Masood Azhar, who was arrested by Pakistani authorities on December 29, 2001. He was released a year later on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was apprehended on December 21, 2001, and kept under house arrest. He would be released on parole in February 2002 , officially released on March 31st, and rearrested on May 15th of that year, after a terror attack killed 35 people in Indian Kashmir. On July 31st, both the Pakistani government and the Punjab provincial government claimed not to have any knowledge of Hafiz Saeed's whereabouts. Saeed's wife Maimoona withdrew a petition for his release on October 29, 2002. She had earlier claimed that the ISI were holding her husband, and refusing to release him unless she withdrew her petition. She later filed a compensation suit against the federal and Punjab governments for her husband's "illegal" detention.
Musharraf took action against LeT, it seems, predominantly to avert a war with India. Hafiz Saeed officially abandoned his links to LeT, and continued to lead Jamaat ud-Dawa from its main compound at Muridke, a few miles north of Lahore in the Punjab. Saeed and his close entourage insisted that they denounced terrorism. However, shortly after his first experience of house arrest in 2002, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed had said: "The U.S. is an international terrorist, and it is wrong to suggest that I should not talk about jihad. The Muslim world should take notice that the U.S. threat extends beyond Iraq, to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We will continue jihad. It is the sole weapon of Muslims to defend their rights and honor."
Jamaat ud-Dawa claimed to be an organization that carried our humanitarian work. It continues to be supported by members of some minority groups mainly because it provided them with much-needed medical and welfare assistance. Jamaat ud-Dawa provided welfare to these people knowing that such contact could engender "dawah" - missionary actions and conversion.
On its website which is still active, Jamaat ud-Dawa's record of providing inoculations against Hepatitis-B, its creation of hospital wings, provision of ambulances and other good deeds are charted. Until its desgination by the UN, JuD operated 156 dispensaries throughout Pakistan. The group performed much of its medical charity work through its front group "Idarah Khidmat-e-Khalq." This group, along with Jamaat ud-Dawa, was designated as a terror front for LeT by the US on April 28, 2006.
Even though JuD claims now that it is solely involved with charitable ventures, the attitude of its leader is still aggressive. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed continued to extol armed jihad long after he officially "abandoned" LeT. The Jamaat ud-Dawa website claims that in January 2007, a medical seminar was held in Lahore, attended by medical staff associated with JuD. Hafiz Saeed addressed the audience. He described non-Muslims as "Kuffar" who cheat, and said that the world "has become familiar with their ugly, criminal, reality, that they are unwilling to allow Muslims to live in peace."
The JuD website carried an angry condemnation of an interview with Hafiz Saeed. This interview had originally been published in Outlook India. The interview had been conducted by Pakistani journalist Amir Mir. The JuD website claimed that the interview was fake, and had never taken place. Letters written to Outlook India by Abdullah Muntazir, JuD's international spokesman, were presented. I tried to ring Muntazir on the phone number provided (+92-334-4051132). The phone rang, but no-one answered.
Claims were made in the Indian press that although the JuD compound at Muridke was officially closed, along with other offices throughout Pakistan, it was still open for business four days after closure.
The JuD website carries a bizarre claim about the recent Mumbai attacks. It maintains that they were the work of Atma Ghataki Pathak (Hindu Suicide Squad), a Hindu terror group linked to Shiv Sena. There is no credibility to such a story, even though it fits within the canon of Islamist conspiracy theories, such as 9/11 being perpetrated by the U.S. and Mossad.
Another editorial on its website lists Pakistani figures who support Jamaat ud-Dawa. JuD is a Salafist organization, so it is not surprising to find that the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadeeth is listed as a supporter. The British branch of this group was exposed for its extremism in a Channel 4 documentary in January 2007.
Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam expressed his support for JuD - this individual has demanded sharia law throughout Pakistan. His party belonged to the MMA coalition of Islamist parties. The Sindh provincial “amir” of Jamaat-e-Islami, another member of the MMA, also supported JuD. Liaqat Baloch, who lives in Lahore, also supports JuD. Baloch is vice-president of the national Jamaat-e-Islami party. In May 2007, this party introduced a draft bill into the Pakistani parliament, which proposed that apostates from Islam should be killed.
Pakistan's tolerance of, or inability to suppress, those who plot violent jihad has once again placed it into a position of potential war with its neighbor India. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was just one of the internationally harmful groups supported by Pakistan's ISI. When the current government decided to place the ISI under civilian control on July 26, 2008, the move was retracted a mere six hours later. It remains under army control, led by Lt Gen Nadeem Taj.
Yahya Muhajid claimed that LeT and JuD activity had only been within areas of Pakistan (including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). Disturbingly, LeT members have been actively plotting to support or initiate armed jihad on the soil of the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany and France. A former "Civil Rights Coordinator" for America's "advocacy group" CAIR participated in a Lashkar jihadist network centered in Virginia.
In Part Three, the conclusion of this article, I will track these activities, and show how Jamaat ud-Dawa maintained a veneer of respectability while its associates plotted acts of terror and mayhem.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British-based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.