Pakistan denounces US terrorism designation of Hizbul Mujahideen chief

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs objected to the United States’ designation of Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist and claimed the country “has a demonstrated and longstanding commitment of combating terrorism.”

While not mentioning Salahuddin specifically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement was released one day after the US Department of State added him to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

“The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

However, as FDD’s Long War Journal has noted in a profile of Salahuddin, he has admitted to raising funds to wage jihad in Afghanistan and India, and has supported fighting US forces inside Afghanistan. Additionally, Salahuddin has close ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba and its charitable front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Both groups are recognized as foreign terrorist organizations and are supported by the Pakistani state. Salahaddin has admitted that the Pakistani military has allowed him to operate “hundreds of training camps.” [See US adds emir of Hizbul Mujahideen to list of global terrorists.]

Pakistan has supported a bevy of jihadist groups as it seeks to wrest control of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian control. These groups have launched numerous suicide attacks inside India and have allied with terrorists groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

While denouncing the designation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that “Pakistan has a demonstrated and longstanding commitment of combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

This is contrary to everything that is known about Pakistan. The military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Service Directorate (ISI) actively supports groups such as the Afghan Taliban and its powerful subgroup, the Haqqani Network. The Taliban’s leadership is based in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, and other cities and towns across the country. Taliban leaders openly recruit, indoctrinate and train fighters to wage jihad against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan banks and ‘hawalas,’ or money exchanges, knowingly provide financial services for the Taliban. Pakistani politicians and clerics support the Taliban and train their fighters at their madrassas.

Pakistani military and intelligence officials have knowingly passed along intelligence to Taliban, al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders and operatives to allow them to avoid being targeted in raids.

Pakistan remains a primary hub for international terrorist groups. Of the 59 groups listed by the US State Department as Foreign Terrorist organizations, 12 are based in Pakistan, and two others (Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh and the Indian Mujahedeen) are directly linked to groups supported by the Pakistani state .

Terrorists groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen operate openly inside Pakistan, without fear of reprisal from the state. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which executed the deadly suicide operation in Mumbai, India that killed 164 people, is listed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Its leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is listed by the US as a specially designated global terrorist, is feted by Pakistani military commanders and politicians, and is a regular on television shows. Markaz-e-Taiba, its headquarters in Muridke near Lahore, is a sprawling complex that is used to indoctrinate future jihadists before they are sent off for military training. The provincial government of Punjab has financed Markaz-e-Taiba in the past.

Harakat-ul-Mujahideen another Pakistan-based jihadist group that has been listed by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Its emir, Fazle-ur-Rahman Khalil, is also named by the US as a specially designated global terrorist. He lives in Islamabad, with the knowledge of the Pakistani government. In an update to the US designation of HuM in 2014, the US noted that it “operates in Pakistan, and engages in terrorist activity in Kashmir, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan” and “also operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan.” These camps are thought to be in existence to this day.

Pakistan’s intransigence towards jihadist groups has not escaped the attention of the US government. In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, the State Department issued a scathing rebuke of Pakistan’s failure to police jihadist groups in the region.

“Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan,” the report noted.

“Pakistan has also not taken sufficient action against other externally-focused groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan,” State continued. Additionally, State noted that groups continue to fundraise without consequence and Hafiz Saeed “was able to make frequent public appearances in support of the organization’s objectives,” without Pakistan raising a finger to stop him.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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