The United States on Wednesday designated Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen as a foreign terrorist organisation, nearly two months after declaring the outfit’s Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.
“Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that HM is a terrorist organisation,” the US state department said in a statement, adding such designations expose and isolate terrorist groups and individuals, and “assist the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments”.
According to a statement from US department of States released this evening, “The designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked.”
This designation will be welcomed by authorities in India. The Hizb is one of the two most active Pakistan-based terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir, and claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Kashmir that injured 17 people.
New Delhi has been pushing for ban on HM and its chief with United Nation Security Council but has been vetoed by China. The designation by US department of States may help New Delhi to argue its case before the UNSC and will also put pressure on other countries to take action against HM and its leader.
The US move will help India put the squeeze on Pakistan, whose leaders, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa have sought to portray Hizb cadres as “freedom fighters” at a time of heightened terrorist activity in Kashmir. The Pakistan leaders have glorified slain Hizb commander Burhan Wani as a leader of the “freedom struggle” in Kashmir.
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in September 1989, is a Kashmiri separatist and a designated terrorist group. It is designated a terrorist organisation by India, the European Union and the United States active in the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. The current commander of the group is Specially Designated Global Terrorist Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. Holding a pro-Pakistan ideology, the group is considered to be the largest indigenous militant group in Kashmir.
By adding the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen to the list, the US seeks to “to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks”. All its properties and interests in properties subject to US jurisdiction will be blocked and Americans will be prohibited from “engaging in any transactions with the group”.
“New Delhi had actively pursued the case of Hizbul Mujahideen with the US authorities for some time. The home ministry forwarded documents collected from security agencies and Kashmir Police on the activities of the Hizbul Mujahideen. These documents and proofs were used appropriately. Officials were also in touch with the US authorities dealing with the matter,” a source said.
Hizbul leader Salahuddin, who is based in Rawalpindi and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, has claimed to have carried out several “operations” in India, including the Pathankot attack, which Indian blamed on the Jaish-e-Mohammad, and has boasted of the capability to strike “at any time”.
The Hizb joins the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba on the US list of foreign terrorist organisations. The other two groups were designated on the same day on December 26, 2001. Two other anti-India groups, Indian Mujahideen (2011) and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (2016), are also in the list.