The New Islamist International of Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare

The New Islamist International of Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare

Dated February 1, 1993.
Sponsoring international terrorism and separatist subversion and insurgency is not new to Pakistan. Since the 1970s, Islamabad has been training Sikh and other Indian separatist movements as part of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's strategy of "forward strategic depth", and also as a part of his effort to gain revenge for India's support of an independent Bangladesh.....

Thus, the further militarization and radicalization of the Sikh armed struggle increased, as larger quantities of high quality weapons became available. Among the novelties of the revived terrorist campaign were sophisticated bomb making techniques and better training for Sikh terrorists of the Dal Khalsa separatist movement in the Afghan Mujahideen camps. Indeed, Sikh 'trainees' were killed in a Soviet raid on an Afghan training camp in Pakistan and their documents were seized......

The extent of the external, that is Pakistani and Afghan, influence on the Islamist transformation of the Kashmiri insurgency is quite clear. Indeed, Kashmir was the only area in India where, as of the mid-]980s, Islamic revivalism had "taken a radical political stance" and where "the slogans of the Islamic state have been publicly raised" and had been received with growing popularity. The population was increasingly adopting the leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan and Khomeynists representing the "following of the line of Imam Khomeyni" as their own leaders. Consequently, by 1984, an Islamic radicalization had developed that saw the rise of such movements as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Mahaz-i-Azadi and the Liberation League.

Later, by 1985, both the Jamaat-i-Islami and Al-Jihad movements, the latter "a clandestine organization influenced by the ideology of the Iranian revolution," were becoming highly influential in Kashmiri politics. Indeed, the Al-Jihad movement publicly raised the issue of an "Islamic Revolution" as "the only way to liberate" Kashmir in the mid-1980s. Thus, in the space of a few short years, "there was a marked erosion of the secular Kashmiri personality and a Muslim identity with fundamentalist overtones started emerging rapidly". Therefore, it also became imperative for the emerging separatist leaders to "give the struggle a Pan-Islamic character and extra-territorial dimension."

Indeed, as noted, this transformation was assisted and reinforced by an active ISI program. Initially, the emphasis of this program was on using the Afghan-support infrastructure in Pakistan to support Kashmiri militants. Indeed, during the main escalation of Islamist violence in Indian Kashmir in mid-l988, Pakistan provided assistance in the training and arming of Kashmiri terrorists, as well as sanctuaries to Kashmiri insurgents across the border. At times, the ISI's assistance to the Kashmiri Islamists was even funnelled through Afghan rebel leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami group, thus providing Islamabad with deniability.....

In 1986, with growing experience in training, organizing and running the Afghan mujahideen, and with military supplies available (through US, Saudi, and other foreign assistance), Pakistan began expanding its operation to sponsor and promote separatism and terrorism, primarily in Kashmir, as a strategic long-term program. Among the most crucial activities of the ISI were the following:

  • "Religious fundamentalism was propagated in small but lethal doses to promote separatism and communal outlook".
  • "Training and indoctrination of selected leaders from the Kashmir valley was arranged to create militant cadres".
  • "A large number of youth from the Kashmir valley and Poonch Sector were given extensive training in the use of automatic weapons, sabotage and attacks on security force. Automatic weapons and explosives were now issued to these people".
  • "Special teams were trained to organize agitations and hartals, and to engineer incidents to damage the democratic and secular image of India".

Thus the rise of Islamist ideology topredominance throughout Indian Kashmir facilitated the emergence of a tight link between the Kashmiri insurgents, their supporters, and Islamabad. Thus, it was with the widespread adoption of Islamist ideologies that Kashmiri Muslims could not seek ideological sustenance from a transnational Islam, while simultaneously basking in the guaranteed patronage from across the border. Concurrently, for the Pakistani defense establishment, the Kashmir cause constituted a combination of regional interest and commitment to the global Islamist cause. "Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan... see the Islamic surge in Kashmir as the long awaited hour for jihad against Indian infidels, a holy war for which Pakistan must funnel material and moral backing".....

There is a profound difference between support for Sikh terrorism in Punjab, which is a matter of harassing New Delhi, and Islamist terrorism in Kashmir, where there is a genuine whole-hearted commitment to Jihad.

Furthermore, in the increase of support for terrorism in India, Islamabad has been able to find a task for the Pakistani and Afghan cadres that Islamabad had developed during the Afghan War and must now keep from meddling in Pakistani domestic politics. Indeed, to secure that goal, Brig (Rtd.), Imtiaz, head of the ISI Political Section, has developed a long-term program called 'K-2'.

The 'K-2' program is aimed at unifying and better coordinating the Kashmiri and Sikh subversion efforts by "bringing under one umbrella Sikh and Kashmiri extremists and Muslim fundamentalists who would then intensify acts of violence in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh. "Indeed, the escalation of terrorism and subversion since the early 1990s is believed to have been a direct outgrowth of the ISI's implementation of the 'K-2' long-term program .....

The ISI established and runs its own "Kashmiri organization". The most important among these are the Hizb-i-Islami, which is comprised of former Kashmiri Mujahideen who were trained by the ISI and then fought with Gulbuddin Hikmatyar's organization in Afghanistan. Also, there is Harakat-ul-Jihad another highly professional terrorist group created in Pakistan. It is made up of veteran 'Afghans' from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir who receive extensive ISI support....

By early 1991, the importance of the Pakistani-Afghan terrorist infrastructure for the international Islamist movement further increased as a result of changes in Libya in the aftermath of the economic sanctions that were imposed on the country because of Qadhafi's support for international terrorism.

The Libyans assisted in the upgrading of the terrorist infrastructure in the camps of the Afghan resistance both inside Pakistan and just across the border in Afghanistan, because, as Qadhafi pointed out, "Afghanistan is open to anyone who wants to train".

By then, as the fighting in Afghanistan was grinding to a near halt, the Islamist Mujahideen were shifting more and more attention to the training of thousands of "brethren" from all over the Muslim world. Some 2,000-3,000 volunteers were in the Khost area alone in early-1991. The organized transfer of training installations to several camps in Pakistan-Afghanistan began in the summer of 1991 and still continues as terrorist teams arrive from Libya or via other countries.

For example, some 30-35 Libyan expert terrorist trainers arrived in Peshawar in November 1991 with the declared objective "to train national liberation forces" in Mujahideen camps, mainly those of Gulbuddin and Sayyaf.

It is noteworthy that the Armed Islamic Movement also played a major role in the consolidation of the capabilities of the Islamist terrorists. In the spring of 1991,13 Kashmiri Islamists were accepted for about 6 months of highly specialized terrorist training in Sudan under the personal supervision of the Sudanese leaders Turabi and Mustafa Uthman. By then, AIM's leader, al-Turabi, had already visited Pakistan and Afghanistan in September 1991 to coordinate terrorist support activities.

Indeed, Jam'at-i-Islami (Pakistan), Hizb-i-Islami and Jamiat-i-Islami (Afghanistan) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Kashmir) had all bccome members of the Turabi-led Popular International Organization (PIO), and, in this capacity, provided assistance to, and closely cooperated with, Islamists from Egypt, the Hizbullah in Lebanon, FIS in Algeria, and NIF in Sudan. PIO members exchanged experts and cooperated in joint support and training activities.

In the early-summer of 1992, some 200 highly-trained and well armed Afghan Mujahideen infiltrated into Indian Kashmir in order to assist in what was by now a full blown armed struggle. They are directly responsible for the increase in violence in Kashmir, in itself a part of a concentrated effort sponsored and backed by the ISI.

Another group of 300 Afghans in command of a larger force of Pakistani- trained Kashmiris are waiting in Pakistani Kashmir for the opportune conditions in order to infiltrate into Indian Kashmir and open a new terrorist front.....

ISI's vast and highly experienced terrorist support infrastructure, tempered by years of assistance to such regional armed struggles as those in Afghanistan and India, is increasingly expanding its operations to include and sponsoring of global Islamist terrorism. At present, the Armed Islamic Movement supports and trains Islamist terrorists and fighters for Jihads throughout the world from centers in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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