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Updated: August 7, 2010 12:55 IST

U.S. designates terrorist group operating in India and Pakistan

Narayan Lakshman
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A file photo of the arms surrendered by HUJI militants during a surrender cermony in Awantipura. Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism has said that the linkages between HUJI and al-Qaeda are clear. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The Hindu A file photo of the arms surrendered by HUJI militants during a surrender cermony in Awantipura. Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism has said that the linkages between HUJI and al-Qaeda are clear. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

The State Department and the Treasury of the United States, along with the United Nations, have designated the Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), an entity that they said was “operating in India and Pakistan”, a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO). Both wings of the U.S. government and the United Nations further designated HUJI commander Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).

In a statement, the Treasury and State Department said Mr. Kashmiri was designated SDGT for “supporting acts of terrorism and for acting for or on behalf of HUJI” and the action against him was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which froze any assets that Mr. Kashmiri had under U.S. jurisdiction. The SDGT designation also prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with him.

The UN in a statement noted that the Security Council al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee "approved the addition of the two [entities – HUJI and Mr. Kashmiri] to its Consolidated List of individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo". As per the action taken by the UN, all its member states would be required to implement an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo against this group and individual.

Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, said, “The linkages between HUJI and al-Qaeda are clear, and today’s designations convey the operational relationship between these organisations.”

Operations in South Asia

Touching upon some of the key activities of HUJI that led to its FTO designation, the State Department said the organisation’s area of operation extended throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations “focused primarily in India and Pakistan".

In particular, HUJI was held responsible for terrorist attacks in India including the May 2007 Hyderabad mosque attack, in which 16 were killed and the March 2007 Varanasi attack, in which 25 were killed. Mr. Kashmiri has also been linked to David Coleman Headley, currently in a jail in Chicago over charges that he had helped plan the Mumbai attack of November 2008.

Further the State Department noted that in January 2009, a federal grand jury had indicted Mr. Kashmiri for terrorism-related offenses in connection with a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark. It added that he had also been connected to the suicide bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi, which killed four people including U.S. diplomat David Foy.

The U.S. authorities underscored the fact that Mr. Kashmiri and HUJI had also attacked targets within Pakistan. The Treasury said that as commander of HUJI, Mr. Kashmiri provided support to al-Qaeda operations, supporting its attacks against Pakistani government personnel and facilities. The Treasury, in particular, cited the 2009 attack against the offices of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and the Pakistani police in Lahore, in which 23 people were killed.

Mr. Kashmiri was also said to have directed the October 2008 assassination of the former commander of the Pakistani Special Services Group, General Amir Faisal Alvi, “in retaliation for his role in the fight against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan".

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