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.
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