The U.S. has discovered that Osama Bin Laden’s courier was working with a terrorist group called Harakat-ul-Mujahidin that is in close contact with Pakistani intelligence. The Pakistani government says the story is “part of a well-orchestrated smear campaign against our security organizations.” The revelation further exposes Pakistan’s duplicity, and shows why there can be no differentiation between Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.
Harakut-ul-Mujahidin (HUM) is a terrorist group that has long enjoyed the support of the Pakistani government. Like other Pakistani jihadist groups, it has been used by the government as a proxy to fight India over Kashmir. Osama Bin Laden consulted with the group’s leader, Fazle-ur-Rahman Khalil, who signed the Al-Qaeda chief’s 1998 declaration of war against the U.S. HUM’s involvement with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that operate beyond Kashmir has not stopped Pakistan’s support. There are photos available of the compound outside Islamabad where Khalil lives.
HUM’s involvement with Osama Bin Laden underscores the point that a war focused narrowly on Al-Qaeda is destined to fail, as Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups are part of a single ideology. Another example is Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), which is also protected by Pakistan. It is known to have at least 7 terrorist training camps in Kashmir. The group is responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India that Al-Qaeda has sought to replicate elsewhere. An American named David Coleman Headley who was involved in the attacks has testified that he was handled by the Pakistani ISI intelligence service. He said that the ISI sent him on five reconnaissance missions to survey sites for the attacks, including a Jewish community center that was later targeted. He was also sent by the ISI to check out an Indian nuclear power plant in April 2008.
The LET responded to its banning by simply changing its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Its leader still publicly preaches. The group boasts of running over 202 facilities in Pakistan, including schools, hospitals and charities. The Long War Journal says that LET “essentially runs a state within a state in Pakistan.” This is especially dangerous because of the group’s proven ability to recruit Westerners. European officials say that the LET is the biggest inspirer of homegrown terrorists, and it is known to be expanding operations in the West. The group’s focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan and India does not mean that it doesn’t harbor global ambitions. It has promised to “plant a flag” in Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C.
Another group using its Pakistani backing to promote homegrown terrorism is Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). “The U.S. and British governments have both acquired overwhelming evidence that ‘homegrown’ terrorist cells seeking instruction at ‘real’ terror training camps frequently end up at either facilities run by LET or JEM. JEM is essentially seen as an equal substitute for LET if the latter is unavailable,” terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann said.
The leader of JEM openly preaches in Pakistan, and like LET, has schools where it can brainwash the youth into becoming jihadists. Reporters were able to locate two of these schools. Apparently, the JEM feels secure enough that it does not put much effort into hiding its presence. Among the many attacks that JEM has carried out is the 2001 attack on India’s parliament that brought the two countries to the brink of war. A member of JEM provided five American jihadists from the Washington D.C. area with safe haven when they were arrested in Pakistan in December 2009 on their way to Taliban and Al-Qaeda training camps. Four members of JEM were arrested for their links to Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010.
The director of the CIA recently confronted Pakistan about tipping off the Haqqani and Bahadur networks. U.S. intelligence saw how two factories used for making bombs to kill NATO forces in Afghanistan were abandoned once the Pakistanis were given the intelligence. The Haqqani networks and the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have yet to be tackled by the Pakistanis despite their contributions to the deaths of American soldiers. The Taliban’s Shura Council continues to operate in Quetta, and last May, the U.S. concluded that the Taliban was gaining strength with help from the ISI. Pakistani intelligence’s support for the Taliban goes beyond protection, and includes transfers of money and weapons and even “strategic planning guidance.”
Pakistan is still raising the next generation of terrorists and Islamic extremists with its religious schools, as well. According to Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Pakistan is still producing an estimated 10,000 potential jihadis a year out of 500,000 graduates from Pakistan’s 11,000 madrasses.”
It is not enough for Pakistan to just crack down on Al-Qaeda. There’s an entire jihadist network within Pakistan and the government knows about it. The war against radical Islam will go for as long as Pakistan continues its treachery.