Harkat-ul-Mujahideen

Formed1985
DisbandedGroup is active.
First Attack1995: HuM militants cooperate with Kashmiri militant group al-Faran in kidnapping five Westerners. One was reportedly killed in August and the rest in December later that year. [1]
Last Attack2008: Multiple clashes with Indian police and army forces, killing several, in the Kashmir region. Skirmishes occurred in April, October, and December. [2]
UpdatedJuly 9, 2012

Narrative Summary

The Harakat-ul-Mujahidin (HuM) was formed in Pakistan in 1985 in central Punjab. The group emerged as a faction of Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI), an anti-Soviet Islamic group. HuM split from HuJI in 1985, due to ideological differences and the increased need for improved cover of their operations. [3] [4]

After Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, HuM shifted its focus to participating in the jihad against Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir with the support of the Pakistani government.

In 1993, allegedly under the guidance of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's intelligence agency, HuM reunited with HuJI to form a new organization, Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA). After being designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1997, HuA changed its name back to Harakat ul-Mujahideen in order to avoid the sanctions connected with this designation. [5]

Fazlur Rehman Khalil, HuM’s longtime leader has been linked to Osama bin Laden.  He appears to have signed bin Laden’s February 1998 fatwa that called for attacks on Western interests. [6]

The December 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Nepal is suspected to have been executed by HuM operatives. The hijackers forced the pilot to land in Kandahar under the protection of the Afghan Taliban. In exchange for the hostages from the flight, HuM demanded the release of terrorists held in Indian jails, including a prominent HuM leader, Maulana Masood Azhar . [7]

HuM's strength has diminished following the departure of several top operatives to form Jaish-e-Mohammad in 1999.  Following his release from jail in late 1999 after the airline hostage negotiations, HuM leader Masood Azhar decided to form a new group rather than return to his old comrades. Azhar's departure severely depleted HuM's operations and resources. [8]

In 2003, HuM began to utilize the name Jamiat-ul-Ansar (JUA) in order to bypass emargos and detention of their assets by foreign officials. The JUA name was banned as well shortly thereafter.

Leadership

Other prominent leaders of HuM include Farooq Kashmiri Khalil (who took over as leader of HuM after Rehman stepped down), Maulana Saadatullah Khan, and Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the HuM splinter group, Jaish-e-Mohammed [9] [10].  Saifullah Akhtar, another commander fled to Afghanistan in 1995 after a failed coup attempt that he masterminded against then Prime Minister Benzir Bhutto.[11] [12].

Another prominent member of HuM is senior al Qaeda operative Omar (also Umar) Saeed Sheikh.[13] Omar was freed from the Indian prison along with Azhar.  He is believed to have assisted in the 9/11 attacks and was later arrested in Pakistan for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. [14]

  1. Fazlur Rehman Khalil (1989 to 2000): Khalil was a commander of HuM and was also believed to be one of the leaders of the Harakat ul-Ansar (HuA). He maintained strong ties to Osama bin Laden and turned over command of HuM in 2000. Khalil was a student of the radical Binori madrassa in Karachi which is the home of the 20th century Deobandi movement. The mosque gave birth to some of the first radical Islamists who were inspired to pursue jihad during the Soviet-Afghan war. In the early 1990s, Khalil played a key role in coordinating between the Pakistani regime ran by Benazir Bhutto and the Taliban, having established close relations with Mullah Omar. After September 11, 2001, Khalil led scores of fighters into jihad against the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but returned to Pakistan in January 2002 following the demise of the Taliban regime. He and his organization continued to support both the Taliban and AQ from the FATA region. He is reportedly in hiding in response to U.S. efforts to capture him. Western and Indian intelligence agencies claim that Khalil has been responsible for setting up a large number of terrorist training camps across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.[15]
  2. Maulana Saadatullah Khan (1997 to Present): Khan is a possible commander of HuM. He was originally a leader of Harakat ul-Ansar (HuA), and since the dissolution of HuA, Khan is believed to have assumed the role of head commander in Kashmir for HuM.[16]
  3. Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil (February 23, 1998 to Unknown): Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil became one of five signatories, alongside Rifaai Taha, Ayman Al Zawahiri and Sheikh Mir Hamza, Secretary of Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), on Osama Bin Laden’s 1998 Fatwa, “The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders,” calling for attacks on U.S. and other Western interests.[17]
  4. Farooq Kashmiri (2000 to Present): Kashmiri became the HuM commander following Khalil’s step-down. Some sources state the he had given up the leadership of HuM, although these reports are unconfirmed.[18]

Ideology & Goals

HUM is a Sunni organization, similar in ideology to Wahabism and the Deoband school of thought.  Its ideology also reflects that of the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad and the Taliban. HuM maintains a strict interpretation of Islamic law that runs counter to parliamentary democracy as a negative influence from the West on Islamic societies. Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda are the key sources of inspiration for HUM's ideology.[19]

HuM aims to establish Islamic rule in the Indian-ruled state of Jammu and Kashmir and liberating it from India. Although the group was formed with the mission of fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, it quickly shifted focus to jihad against Indian security forces in Kashmir. [20]

Name Changes

The group merged with HuJI to form HuA in 1993,  and later split again in 1997 to form HuM. [21]

In 1993, the Deobandi Islamic leaders in Karachi, in collusion with Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI), asked three splinter groups to unite for greater collaboration and efficiency. The ISI believed that this merger would suit their own strategic interests in Jammu and Kashmir. These splinter groups, HuJI, HuM and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (another group that had splintered from HuJI in the late 1980s), came together in one organization called Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA).

Following the arrests of HuA’s top leadership and a U.S. proscription of HuA in 1997, HuJI and HuA split out again. Even though many analysts argued HuM was a front for HuA, the U.S. refused to put them on the terror list until after September 11, 2001, following evidence of extensive links with Al Qaeda.[22]

After 2001, HuM sometimes assumed the name Jamiat-ul-Ansar in order to avoid the freezing of assets and illegal trade accusations for their supporters. JuA was then banned in November 2003 by the Government of Pakistan. [23]

Size Estimates

As of 2008, HuM had several hundred armed supporters, mostly of Pakistani and Afghan descent.  Many of HuM’s supporters reside in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, and India’s southern Kashmir and Doda regions in the Kashmir valley. Some of the group’s supporters included Arab veterans of the Afghan war. 

HuM lost a significant share of its membership in defections to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in 2000.[24] 

Designated/Listed

Resources

The ISI and various Pakistani foreign agencies are suspected funders of HuM [27].  A 1997 State Department report also alleged Pakistan's official support for Kashmiri militant groups, including the HuM.[28] The actual extent of ISI funding is, however, unknown [29].  HuM also receives contributions from individuals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Islamic states [30].  Some additional assistance - material and possibly financial - from Osama bin Laden to HuM has been suspected [31].

HuM also held bank accounts and possible investments yielding financial returns, producing a reliable source of resources when these funds were available to them. However, the Pakistani government froze these assets in 2001, following HuM's inclusion on the U.S. terrorist designations list and a U.S.-demanded crackdown on terrorist operations [32]

External Influences

HuM is well-connected to a wide network of foreign wealthy and grassroots donors, mostly across the Gulf states, including Pakistan, Kashmir, and Saudi Arabia.  It connects with this audience through magazine ads and pamphlets. [33]

HuM has suspected ties to the Pakistani ISI, as well as to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. [34] [35]



Geographical Locations

HuM maintains headquarters in Muzaffarabad and Rawalpindi, and have several other offices in various towns of Pakistan.  [36].  Its activities are focused on the Kashmir region, but operatives have also been found in Afghanistan. [37].

Targets & Tactics

Most of HuM targets are within the state of Jammu and Kashmir. [38]. The group typically targets Indian security and civilian personnel, and when working in Afghanistan, occasional Western targets. HuM was one of the earliest to use hijacking as a successful tactic.  Overall, HuM typically performs bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings, with the use of machine guns, rockets, assault rifles, mortars, and explosives.  [39]

In 2003, Fazlur Rahman Khalil, the head of HuM, made statements about nuclear weapons, declaring, “God has ordered us to build nuclear weapons,” on CBS News Show 60 Minutes.[40] 

Political Activities

Although HuM does not directly participate in politics,  HuM was closely associated to the political party Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI) in Pakistan for a short period of time, particularly the faction led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman (the leader of one of the factions of JUI).  [41]



Major Attacks

The December 1999 hijacking of an Indian airliner by HuM was one of the first hijackings to successfully achieve a terrorist group's objective. HuM operatives overtook the Nepal-originating flight bound for Delhi and diverted it to Afghanistan where the hijackers demanded the release of three top group leaders from Indian prisons. [42] One of these prisoners was a major HuM leader, Masood Azhar, who later formed JeM. Indian authorities released all three of the demanded leaders to the Taliban leadership in exchange for the passengers. It was also reported that the hijackers took their orders and instructions from elements within Pakistan’s ISI officials who were also present at the airport.”[43] This event is believed to signify HuM's extensive cooperation with the Taliban and also with Pakistan’s ISI. Without this external support, HuM may not have been able to successfully undertake this operation financially or logistically. [44].

An operative, Ahmed Omar Sheik, has also been convicted of the abduction and murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. [45].

  1. 1995: HuM cooperated with Kashmiri militant group al-Faran in kidnapping five Westerners. One was reportedly killed in August and the rest in December later that year. (5 killed).[46]
  2. December 24, 1999: HuM members hijack an Indian Airlines flight and take it to Kandahar, Afghanistan. They demand the release of Azhar and other leaders in exchange for the hostages, which is eventually met by the Indian government. (0 killed).[47]
  3. 2002: American journalist Daniel Pearl abducted and murdered by HuM operative Ahmed Omar Sheik. (1 killed).[48]
  4. November 2007: Two Indian soldiers are killed in firefight with HuM militants. (2 killed).[49]
  5. 2008: Indian police and army forces are killed in clash with HuM in Kashmir region. Skirmishes occurred in April, October, and December. (Unknown).[50]

Relationships with Other Groups

In the past, HuM was very close to the political party Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam  (JUI) Pakistan, especially the faction led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman (the leader of one of the factions of JUI).  HuM is also believed to be strongly influenced by Maulana Samiul Haq's faction of Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI), as well as the anti-Shiite Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). The JUI is known to run a large number of madrassas all over Pakistan from which recruits for HuM are taken [51]The group allegedly maintains its links with JUI and the SSP currently. [52]

The organization appears to have significant ties to the Pakistani ISI, as well as to the Taliban. [53]  In 1998, a large number of HuM recruits died from a U.S. cruise missile attack on a camp in Khost aiming to kill al-Qaeda militants. [54]  

HuM is part of Osama bin Ladin's "Islamic World Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders" (Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-`Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud wal-Salibiyyin). [55].  Fazlur Rehman Khalil, one of the HUM's leaders, signed bin Laden's fatwa in February 1998, calling for attacks on US and Western interests. [56].

Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) is believed to have provided refuge for LeJ militants in Afghanistan following a LeJ's attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.[57]



Community Relationships

HuM recruits are young men typically between 18-25 who are “less well-educated and unemployed” from all over Pakistan and Kashmir, but most “often [are] from the North West Frontier Province.”[58]  HuM is known to use magazine ads, pamphlets, and the web to this effect. [59].

Other Key Characteristics & Events

Fazlur Rehman Khalil, who serves as the leader of HuM, played a critical role in the negotiations to end the military operation on the Res mosque (Lal Masjid) in Islamabad in 2007. [60].


References

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