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Volume 2, No. 5 - October 2002

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Harkat ul-Jihad-i-Islami

The Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HuJI) was launched in 1980 as part of the Pakistan-based Jehad network fighting troops of the then Soviet Union who were deployed in Afghanistan. It has undergone several changes during the past two decades and spread its area of activities to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), other parts of India and Bangladesh. HuJI cadres are suspected to be involved in the terrorist attack on the Kolkata office of the United States Information Service (USIS) on January 22, 2002. Security agencies have also reported that HuJI cadres are linked to the perpetrators of the train arson at Godhra in Gujarat on February 27, 2002.

Two Pakistan-based Deobandi religious bodies, the Jamaat-ul-Ulema-e-Islami (JuI) and the Tabligh-i-Jamaat (TiJ), set up the HuJI in 1980, at the outset of the Afghan war. It was first formed to run relief camps for the Afghan mujahideen and was led by Maulvi Irshad Ahmed. The support base of the group lay in the Pakistani Punjabi business community with JuI and TiJ affiliations. As the Afghan resistance developed, the HuJI developed links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and was subcontracted to recruit and train the mujahids as well. The group then developed links with an Afghan mujahideen group, the Hizb-e-Islami-Yunus Khalis (HeI-K) faction. A power-struggle was reported within the group after the death of Maulana Irshad Ahmed, in 1985 during the Afghan Jehad. Fazal-ur-Rehman Khalil, the group’s ‘commander-in-chief’ split with the new Amir (chief), Qazi Saifullah Akhtar and formed the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). The HuM retained links with the HeI-K.

Saifullah Akhtar stayed on to lead the HuJI, but it soon split again, with Maulana Masood Kashmiri starting a third splinter group, the Jamait-ul-Mujaheddin (JuM; different from the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, a splinter group of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen - HM). Later, in 1991, the Deobandi ulemas (religious leaders) of Karachi asked the three splinter factions to reunite in order to increase the effectiveness of their participation in the Kashmir insurgency. This reunited version was named the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA). While the HuA was formally formed in Pakistan, the merger of the three factions’ units in J&K was to be achieved by the HuA general secretary Maulana Masood Azhar who arrived in India on a false Portuguese passport and reached Srinagar in February 1994. He convened a meeting, on February 10, of 19 leaders of the HuJI, HuM and the JuM at Matigund, Anantnag district, to discuss the merger. While returning from the meeting, Masood Azhar and Sajjad Afghani, the HuA’s J&K ‘military chief’, were arrested in Srinagar. Earlier, in November 1993, Nasrullah Mansur Langrayal, HuM’s ‘chief Commander’ was arrested in Doda. With these arrests, the move to reunite the three HuJI factions into the HuA remained unsuccessful. However, stray incidents of terrorist violence perpetrated by the HuJI in J&K continued to be reported.

Meanwhile, a Bangladesh unit of this outfit was set up with Osama bin Laden’s aid in 1992, under the leadership of Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid, and with Imtiaz Quddus as its ‘General Secretary’.

The ISI was reported in September 1998, to have floated a new outfit, Harkat-ul-Jehad Islamee Tanzeem. Its links with the HuJI are however not clear and it is not known if this was a move to resurrect the dormant HuJI.

The HuJI, like other Pakistan-based terrorist outfits functions under the patronage of the Inter Services Intelligence. While in J&K, it strives to ensure the secession of the State from India through terrorist violence, in other parts of India it aims to spread terror and consequently endanger the internal security scenario. The HuJI has formed alliances with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and other Islamist extremists to spread violence in India.

Leadership and Command Structure
The J&K chief of HuJI Gulzar Ahmed Tantrey and his deputy Abdul Rashid Dangar were killed in an encounter at Chanjlu in Doda district on December 12, 2001. There has been no reports thus far on the successors chosen for the slain terrorists.

Area of Operation & Operational Strategies
Isolated instances of attacks by the HuJI on security forces in J&K have been reported. The first HuJI terrorists began entering J&K in early 1992. Later that year, Nasarullah Mansur Langaryal, its then ‘deputy chief commander’, and an Afghan war veteran was sent to head the group in the State. He reportedly focused his effort in southern Kashmir where there was a thinner deployment of security forces and established a training camp near Kapran on the slopes of the Pir Panjal mountain range. Langrayal took over the leadership of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) after its formation, but was arrested in November 1993.

The outfit, particularly its Bangladeshi unit appears more active aiding terrorists in India’s north-east and extremist and criminal forces in other parts of India. The HuJI Bangladesh unit was assigned the task of recruiting Bangladeshi and Indian Muslims to fight in Kashmir under the command of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. Several hundred recruits of this unit have also been trained in Afghanistan and its activists frequently cross over to India from Bangladesh for terrorist activities. The cadres of the outfit who style themselves as the ‘Bangladeshi Taliban’ are alleged to infiltrate regularly into India’s eastern corridor and maintain contacts with terrorist and subversive outfits of the region.

External Linkages
The HuJI is part of the Deobandi extremist network of Pakistan and receives support from the ISI for its activities. ISI support has also been extended to the HuJI’s Bangladesh unit and for this unit’s activities with its Indian extremist and terrorist affiliates. Besides, the HuJI’s Bangladesh unit was set up with assistance from Osama bin Laden.

Major Incidents

March 1 – A Delhi court permits the transfer to West Bengal, of four foreign HuJI mercenaries, arrested on January 31 and February 6 from Delhi. The four, three Pakistanis and a Bangladeshi, were wanted in West Bengal in connection with the abduction of a businessman and for carrying out other subversive activities in the State.

February 15 – In a joint operation, Delhi and Gujarat police arrest three HuJI terrorists from a location near Surat, Gujarat. The arrests were made after three terrorists arrested earlier on January 31, had revealed the presence of the three terrorists in Gujarat. All six were suspected to be linked to the group responsible for the attack on the USIS centre in Kolkata on January 22.

February 13 – Aftab Ansari, prime accused in the January 22 terrorist attack on the American Centre in Kolkata, admitted to his links with the HuJI, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) He also confessed to have visited the organisations’ training camps in Pakistan.

January 23 – A report indicated that the Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), suspected of involvement in the January 22 Kolkatta attack, is a front organisation of the HuJI.

January 22 – Aftab Ansari alias Farhan Malik, a Dubai-based criminal with HuJI and ISI links claims responsibility for the terrorist attack on the United States Information Service (USIS) office in Kolkatta carried out on the same day.

January 11 – Two HuJI ‘district commanders’ are among six terrorists killed when security forces raided a hide-out where a meeting was being held. The other terrorists killed were from the LeT and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM).

December 22 – Imran Bhai alias Toofail, a HuJI ‘deputy district commander’ killed in an encounter near Dool in Doda district.

December 12 – The group’s J&K chief Gulzar Ahmed Tantrey and his deputy Abdul Rashid Dangar were killed in an encounter at Chanjlu, Doda.

December 2 – A Pakistani HuJI mercenary hacked to death by a local at Waltengu in Anantnag district while attempting to demand hospitality.

November 30 – Security forces report that a wireless intercept indicates internecine rivalry over cadre between the group and the Al-Badr.

November 17 – A HuJI ‘local commander’ killed in an encounter at Gundana, Doda.

November 15 – Tanveer Ahmed Bhat alias Abu Talla, identified as a ‘district commander’ and reported to be an active terrorist for ten years, killed in an encounter at Monda, Doda.

November 11 – Five HuJI terrorists killed in an encounter at Jalian in Poonch district.

October 10 – A ‘deputy commander’ killed in an encounter at the Wiwan forests in Baramulla district. In Poonch, four Pakistani HuJI mercenaries, hiding inside a cave at Gali Pindi for 12 days, were killed by security forces who were maintaining a siege.

October 5-6 – In two consecutive encounters near the Line of Control (LoC) at Thambiot Chajla, Poonch, 12 foreign HuJI mercenaries killed. The 12 were reported to be exfiltrating on their way to Afghanistan to join the Taliban’s war against US forces.

October 4 – Three foreign mercenaries of the group killed in an encounter at Tararan Wali Dhok, Poonch.

September 7 – Shahbaaz Khan alias ‘24’, a ‘district commander’ and his associate killed in an encounter at Surankote, Poonch.

August 4 – Security forces raid a hide-out at Jhandi in Rajouri district where a meeting of the group’s members and JeM terrorists was underway. Among the Pakistani members killed were Sultan Babar alias Abu Manshi, reported to be the third top ranking leader, Amjad Shah, a ‘district commander’. A JeM ‘group commander’ was also killed.

July 10 – Rezwan, a Pakistani ‘district commander’ and three associates killed in an encounter at Balakote, Rajouri.

June 17 – Captain Omar Gazi alias Hyder, a Pakistani ‘district commander’ killed in an encounter at Chak-e-Pazipora in Kupwara district.

May 10 – Mohd Hussain alias Ishaq, a ‘divisional commander’ and an associate killed in an encounter at Chatru Singhpur, Doda.

April 9 – A security force convoy is ambushed at Tota Gali, Poonch. Two security force personnel are killed and three others injured. In subsequent search operations on April 10, security forces locate and kill two HuJI and a JeM mercenaries. Among the mercenaries killed are Khalid Mohammed alias Abu Shama, identified as the second-in-command of the group’s ‘313 Brigade’.

April 6 – Two Pakistani mercenaries, who ambushed a security force patrol party at Fangiot, Poonch, killed in retaliatory action. There were no casualties in the ambush.

February 18 – A Government teacher Abdul Latif is arrested from Chambalwas, Doda. Security forces said that the arrested teacher was working as an over ground HuJI worker and had sheltered four terrorists.

February 9 – Six HuJI terrorists including three Pakistan mercenaries and a guide were killed in an encounter at Keri, Poonch.

January 30 – A Pakistani mercenary killed when his group attempted to storm a security force camp at Mahroot, Poonch. The attack was successfully repulsed.

December 26 – A terrorist attempting to lob a grenade at a security force patrol party killed in Lanch, Udhampur distict when the grenade exploded in his hand.

July 27 – Four security force personnel and three top HuJI terrorists were killed in an encounter in Dharamshala, Rajouri.

July 19 – Six HuJI terrorists, including its Jammu unit chief, Mohammad Afzal alias Abu Umer, were killed in an encounter at Nealli, Rajouri.

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