Pakistan: jihad in the service of the state (article)

February 28th 2019

article by: @directorate4 (Telegram)

While the world is watching as the Arab-Kurd "SDF" detachments and the coalition taking care the last ISIS stronghold on the Euphrates shore, and experts are competing to issue forecasts and expectations regarding the future of world terrorism, let's talk about a country that deserves the name “terrorist state” no less than the ISIS, and represents at least for its neighbors, a more serious and tangible threat than the “Caliphate”.

On February 13th, a suicide bomber committed a self-detonation near the bus with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Iranian provinces of Sistan and Balochistan. Responsibility for the attack claimed the group "Jaish Al-Adl", which previously repeatedly committed attacks on Iranian security forces.

The next day, a suicide bomber of the group “Jeish-e-Muhammad” (DeM) blew himself up in a car packed with explosives next to a column of Indian police, 37 of whom died.

After the terrorist attack, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, said that the responsibility for the attack lies with the government of Pakistan since the attack was organized and carried out from its territory. The commander of the IRGC, Muhammad Ali Jafari, also accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists and called on the country's leadership to change its attitude towards Jaish Al-Adl.

"Jaish Al-Adl" jihadists

India reacted more harshly by sending aircraft to destroy the DeM training camps in Pakistan. This led to a series of artillery strikes between the two countries and the closure of Pakistan’s airspace and restrictions on civil aviation in the north-west of India after the shooting down of an Indian Air Force MiG-21 aircraft by Pakistan Air Force.

Both Jaysh al-Adl and Jaysh-e-Muhammad are based in Pakistan, and the attacks themselves were committed in areas bordering Iran and India. Despite the widespread tradition of shifting all responsibility for the emergence and activities of Islamist terrorists to the United States, the role of Pakistan in these processes is at least no less. The country is a safe haven for militants of many groups, local special services support them with weapons, finances and information, help recruit recruits, and thousands of underground madrassas operate in Pakistan where future ideological militant leaders are trained. But let's start from the beginning.

Children in one of the Pakistani madrassas

During the war that followed the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan, the Pakistani Interdepartmental Intelligence (hereinafter - MR), together with the CIA, trained, armed, and financed those from whom the Taliban and Al-Qaeda would later grow.

Actually, the word “Taliban” means “students” and means Afghan refugees who have received religious education in Pakistani madrassas.

MR's support for Afghans was not limited. The so-called “Afghan Arabs” - radical volunteers who came from all over the Arab world settled down in Afghanistan with the full connivance of the Pakistani side. Subsequently, they will become the most famous terrorists of our time: Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Az-Zarqawi, Anwar Al-Avlaki, Ayman Az-Zawahiri and many others. But one should not think that at present all Islamist terrorist organizations of the world are puppets in the hands of the MR. Simply, the Pakistani security forces played a major role in the development of these people as terrorists.

Osama Bin Laden

The focus of the MR is, of course, on India, creating a whole network of jihadist groups, sleeping cells throughout the country, as well as supporting any separatist movements from the eastern neighbor. The most attractive sore points of India for the Pakistani special services are the Sikh self-determination movement (state of Punjab) and, of course, Kashmir. It is where the MR supported terrorist organizations are particularly active.

The oldest of these is Harkatul Mujahidin (HM), formed as a result of a split inside Harkatul Jihad Al-Islami, which is considered the first jihadist terrorist group organized in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, both groups jointly took part in the war against the USSR in Afghanistan, after 1989, mainly transferring their activity to Kashmir and Bangladesh, and then again merging into one in 1993.

Direct control of the group was quickly lost by the MR. In 1995, militants of the group, together with several officers of the Pakistani army, plotted to overthrow the government of Benazir Bhutto and establish an Islamist military dictatorship (apparently, the further development of the ideas of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq). By our time, it is practically inactive: the last time the group committed the terrorist attack is December 2015.

In January 2016, Indian security forces arrested five militants in Kashmir for preparing terrorist attacks. It is known that after 2007, many members of the group flowed into the ranks of the Afghan Taliban, which, apparently, led to the gradual elimination of HM activity in India.

Benazir Bhutto - Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988-1990 and 1993-1996.

In 2000, one of its members, the theologian Masoud Azhar, decided to split off the group, as he was not satisfied with its excessive “moderation”. He organized a new terrorist organization (also, of course, supported by the MR) - Jaysh-e-Mohammed. Together with him, almost three-quarters of the militants went into the new grouping, which heated relations with the parent organization. One of the goals of DeM is to fully integrate the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan, and subsequently to advance into the Hindustan peninsula in order to expel all non-Muslims from there. Another goal is the expulsion of the forces of the western coalition from Afghanistan. The most bloody attacks of DeM (in addition to the terrorist attack on February 14th) are an attack on the Indian parliament building in New Delhi and a suicide attack on the legislative assembly building in Srinagar in 2001. Then, as a result of terrorist attacks, more than 50 people were killed. The attacks provoked a new round of crisis in relations between Pakistan and India.

Masoud Azhar

In 1989, Muhammad Ahsan Dar came out of the “Liberation Front of Jammu and Kashmir” (LFJK) (a military-political organization aiming at the independence of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan and the creation of a secular state there). This was undertaken by the MR to create a counterweight LFJK. The grouping is closely connected with the Pakistani Islamist movement “Jamaat-e-Islami”, which is worth dwelling on.

Before independence, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar were part of the huge British India colony, made up of many principalities and kingdoms of various sizes consistently conquered by the British, and not a single community before the era of colonialism.

When the departure of the British became a practically resolved matter, the local intelligentsia raised the question of the further coexistence of many different nations adhering to different religions within the same country.

In the end, the concept of the leader of the Muslim League, Muhammad Ali Jinna, about the separation of states according to religion, prevailed. So there were Pakistan (then Bangladesh was its member, which gained independence only in 1971) and India. Islamic theologian Hussein Ahmad Madani, defending the idea of coexistence of adherents of different religious movements within a single state, and Aboul Alya Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islam, who also believed that there was no need to share several states, however, a single country should be managed on the basis of sharia, including throughout India. The Jamaat-e-Islami group is known in Russia for the Afghan branch of this organization, to which belonged the President of Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani and field commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Aboul Alya Maududi

In 1990, the number of militants inside the organization, according to various sources, reached 10,000, which seems to be a great exaggeration.

In any case, at present, they are practically not active militarily. However, their popularity among the Kashmiris remains at the top. In 2016, the Indian security forces liquidated one of their leaders, Burkhan Vani, which led to mass riots in Kashmir. It was from Hizbul Mujahidin in 2017 that the most radical faction, headed by Zakir Musa, broke away. A new group called “Ansar Ghazwat Al-Hind” pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. We talked about their ideology earlier. Nevertheless, even such radicals are flooded with the agents of the Indian security forces, and such failures only push them towards even greater radicalization. The same problem exists in the local branch of ISIS

Zakir Musa

One of the most well-known terrorist groups under the patronage of the Inter-Agency Intelligence of Pakistan is the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founded in 1986. Their ideology is similar to “Jaish-e-Mohammed” - they also aim to complete the transition of Kashmir under Pakistani control, after which they plan to squeeze non-Muslims from Hindustan. The loudest terrorist attacks in India were committed by the LeT fighters. Thus, in 2001, they attacked the parliament building together with terrorists from DeM, in 2006 staged a series of explosions at the Mumbai railway station (the city was attacked again in 2008), killing 209 people and wounding around 700.

The group is a close ally of an Al Qaeda. In addition to joint training and assistance in logistics, there were cases when famous members of Al-Qaida were captured at Pakistan’s LeT bases. So that is how Ramzi Yusuf, the organizer of the explosion at the World Trade Center in 1993, was arrested, so is one of the leaders of Al-Qaida, Abu Zubeid and

Ramzi Yusuf. In the US, he is sentenced to life imprisonment

According to reports, in addition to India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, LeT was going to engage in active hostilities in Iraq against the United States. In this regard, the statements of the leader of the organization Hafiz Muhammad Said are extremely curious.

It is common for Sunni extremists to consider Shiite Muslims as apostates and legitimate targets for attacks along with non-Muslims. Said stands out with his extremely original views on this problem, stating that “America did not succeed in dividing Shiites and Sunnis, despite the incitement of interfaith violence in Pakistan. Now they are trying hard to stir up this confrontation in Iraq. But we must not forget that Muktada al-Sadr (ed. - the radical leader of the Iraqi Shiites) - the hero of Islam. Forget about being Shiite. He is a great Mujahid, because he is at war with the worst devil on Earth - America. To support him is our religious duty. ”

This is particularly interesting due to the fact that there is a Pakistani terrorist group based in Afghanistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which focuses specifically on terrorist acts against the Shiite minority of Pakistan.

Hafiz Muhammad Said

“Lashkar-e-Taiba” pays special attention to the social sphere. The organization contains almost two hundred schools throughout the country (training more than 18 thousand people), three hospitals in the province of Punjab, 66 ambulance crews, more than 2000 doctors participate in the organization’s activities as volunteers.

In particularly poor regions, education and medical care can only be obtained from LeT, which increases their support among Pakistanis.

They earned a particularly good reputation in the country by quickly responding to large-scale disasters, such as the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and major floods in 2010.

In this connection, American journalist Steve Call compares LeT to Hezbollah and “Hamas” and not just a terrorist organization - a "movement with a combat wing, and not just a terrorist group".

Such actions, of course, attract considerable attention, which allows LeT to exist not only with funding from the MR and donations from Pakistanis, but also to attract donations from representatives of the Pakistani diaspora in the West, as well as wealthy businessmen from the Arabian Peninsula.

Obviously, even with all of its activity, MR is not all-powerful and cannot control thousands of radicals. Therefore, some Pakistani terrorist groups act against the government of the country. The army has to regularly conduct large-scale operations against militants entrenched in the north-west of the country.

Currently, Operation Rudd-ul-Fasaad is being carried out, which is considered the implementation of the “National Action Plan” adopted by the Government of Pakistan after a major terrorist attack on December 16th, 2014 - six militants of “Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan” (one of whom was a Chechen) broke into the cadet corps in Peshawar and killed 145 people.

The current operation is not limited to purely military measures on the border with Afghanistan, but includes social ones conducted throughout the country to de-radicalize the population and, if possible, deprive the extremists of fertile soil to promote their ideas and attract new supporters and finances.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visits Peshawar after the terrorist attack

In addition to the aforementioned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistani security forces are trying to uproot the remnants of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (they are also the Pakistani Taliban; TTP), which itself is rather a conditional brand for a significant number of groups with militants of different origin in their ranks: from Afghans and Pakistanis and Arabs and natives of Central Asia. TTP fighters are always happy to help their comrades on the other side of the Afghan border in the war against the NATO coalition, but they act independently against the Pakistani army, since the Afghan Taliban do not want to quarrel with their ally. To date, the TTP has weakened considerably, both as a result of the actions of the Pakistani army and as a result of the departure of a number of militants to Iraq to join the Islamic state. Some members of the group decided to build it in their own area - TTP speaker Shahidullah Shahid and a number of field commanders took the oath to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and joined the ranks of the so-called “Khurasan Province”.

Shahidullah Shahid - Former Speaker of “Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan”

The Pakistani government does not hesitate to use Islamic terrorism as a tool of its foreign policy. The intelligence service of the country comprehensively assists jihadist organizations if they act against the enemies of Islamabad. But the dissemination of radical ideas is not always possible to control, and they are already becoming part of public discourse, and not just a form of ideological processing for members of organizations controlled by intelligence. which attracts some people to groups expressing them, but already opposed to the state of Pakistan itself.