18 August 2017
The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a group formed in 1989, is among the oldest militant groups operating in the conflict ridden valley of Kashmir. The HM’s aims in Kashmir range from merging the disputed state of Kashmir with Pakistan to implementing its own version of sharia law in the region. As of August 2017, the United states has labelled the Kashmiri group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) escalating the group’s threat potential.
Over the years, the group has managed to attract close to 2,000 militants, both homegrown and foreign (particularly from Pakistan) who have been planning and carrying out operations in the Kashmir valley. They have also conducted operation in other parts of India, claiming responsibility for the attack on the Pathankot Indian air force station in November 2016. India has long accused Pakistan of providing financial and materials support to the group. Although it was also officially banned by the Pakistani government, Pakistan has never shied away from ideologically supporting any Kashmiri separatist group fighting for autonomy in India.
The group is spearheaded by Mohammed Yusuf Shah also known as Syed Salahuddin, himself a U.S.-designated global terrorist since June 2017. This categorization of Salahuddin elicited criticisms by some in the Pakistani government with Pakistani minister Chaudhry Nisar admonishing the U.S. government for using “Indian language.” He also raised concerns about not allowing the Kashmiri population the right to self-determination, an ongoing issue since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.
Despite the Pakistani government banning the group, Salahuddin has been known to move freely in parts of Pakistan, such as Muzaffarabad, giving speeches to rally support against the Indian government. In the wake of the Pakistani government’s crackdown on HM in January 2016, Syed Salahuddin threatened the Pakistani government with war if it were to continue its offensive against HM’s members.
… Mohammed Sinan Siyech is a Research Analyst at the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 28/08/2017