INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.493
There has been considerable anger and indignation in India over the attempt of David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, who visitedIndia last week, to rationalise the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LEt) of Pakistan bylinking the attack to the Kashmir issue. None of the indigenous Kashmiri organisations has linked the Mumbai attack to Kashmir.YetMiliband sought to provide a legitimacy to the LET's terrorist attack by linking it to Kashmir, disregarding the fact that the attack, as seenfrom the brutal murder of nine Jewish persons and 12 nationals of Western countries, which have contributed forces to the NATO contingentin Afghanistan, was part of the global jihadi agenda unrelated to either Kashmir or the grievances of the Indian Muslims.
2. The shocking attempt by Miliband to play down the murders of 138 Indians and 25 foreign nationals committed by the Pakistani terroristsof the LET should not have come as a surprise to those aware of the historic links of the British intelligence with the Mirpuri migrants fromPakistani-Occupied Kashmir (POK) in the UK and their important role during elections in certain constituencies which traditionally returnLabour candidates to the House of Commons with the support of the Mirpuri vote bank.
3. In this connection, I am reproducing below extracts from my article of 6-5-07 titled HOME-GROWN JIHADIS (JUNDULLAH) IN UK & US available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers23%5Cpaper2236.html
"After Pakistan and Afghanistan, the UK has been traditionally for many years the largest sanctuary to foreign terrorists and extremists.Everybody, who is somebody in the world of terrorism, has found a rear base in the UK--- the Khalistanis in the past, the Liberation Tigers ofTamil Eelam (LTTE), the Mirpuris from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), the Chechens, the Al Muhajiroun, the Hizbut Tehrir etc. Havingallowed such a medley of terrorists and extremists to operate unchecked from their territory for so long, the British intelligence just doesnot have a correct estimate of how many sleeper cells are operating from their country and of which organisations.
"Since persons of Pakistani origin have been playing an increasingly active role in promoting the activities of Al Qaeda, it is necessary toanalyse the nature of migration from Pakistan to the UK and the US. Muslims from Pakistan constitute the single largest Muslim migrantgroup from the sub-continent in both the UK and the US---followed by Indian and Bangladeshi Muslims. There are estimated to be about700,000 Muslims of Pakistani origin in the UK. No estimate is available in respect of the US.
"The largest migrant group from Pakistan in the UK are Punjabi-speaking Muslims----from Pakistani Punjab as well as Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir (POK). The migrants from the POK are called Mirpuris. They are not ethnic Kashmiris, but Punjabi-speaking migrants from thePakistani Punjab, whose families had settled down in the Mirpur area of the POK for generations. They were essentially small farmers andlandless labourers, who lost their livelihood as a result of the construction of the Mangla dam. They, therefore, migrated to West Europe---thelargest number to the UK and a smaller number to France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Many of them preferred to go to the UKbecause it already had a large Punjabi-speaking community from Pakistani Punjab. The initial Mirpuri migrants, who hardly spoke English,felt themselves comfortable in a Punjabi-speaking environment.
" As the number of Muslims of Pakistani origin in the UK increased, mosques came up to cater to their religious needs. Till 1977, thesemosques were headed by clerics from the more tolerant Barelvi Sunni sect. When Gen.Zia-ul-Haq, a devout Deobandi, captured power inPakistan in 1977, he embarked on a policy of marginalising the influence of Barelvi clerics not only in Pakistan, but also in Europe andincreasing the influence of the rabid Deobandis. He inducted Deobandis into the Education Department as Arab teachers and into the ArmedForces to cater to the religious needs of the military personnel. He encouraged and helped the Deobandis to take over the mosques inPakistan and in the UK by replacing the Barelvis. With the induction of an increasing number of Deobandis started the process of theArabisation/Wahabisation of the Muslims in Pakistan and of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.
"The intelligence agencies of the US and the UK went along with Zia's policy of Arabising/Wahabising the Muslims of Pakistan because thiscontributed to an increase in the flow of jihadi terrorists to fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Till 1983, the members of thePakistani diaspora in the UK were considered a largely law-abiding people. The first signs of the radicalisation of the diaspora appeared in1983 when a group of jihadi terrorists kidnapped Ravi Mhatre, an Indian diplomat posted in the Indian Assistant High Commission inBirmingham, and demanded the release of Maqbool Butt, the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), who was thenawaiting execution in the Tihar jail in Delhi following his conviction on charges of murder. When the Government of India rejected theirdemand, the terrorists killed Mhatre and threw his dead body into one of the streets. This kidnapping and murder was allegedlyorchestrated by Amanullah Khan, a Gilgiti from Pakistan. He was assisted by some Mirpuris of the Pakistani diaspora. The British wereunco-operative with India in the investigation of this case and declined to hand over those involved in the kidnapping and murder to India forinvestigation and prosecution. By closing their eyes to the terrorist activities of the Mirpuris from their territory, they encouraged the furtherradicalisation of the diaspora.
" Just as the radicalisation of the Muslims of Pakistan suited the US-UK agenda in Afghanistan, the radicalisation of the diaspora in the UK,particularly the Mirpuris, suited their agenda for balkanising Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Many Pakistanis from the UK went to the trainingcamps of the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA---now called the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Pakistan and got themselvestrained with the knowledge and complicity of the British. They then went to Bosnia and Kosovo to wage a jihad against the Serbs with armsand ammunition and explosives allegedly supplied by the Iranian intelligence with the tacit consent of the Clinton Administration and paidfor by the Saudi intelligence. As the Pakistani Prime Minister between 1993 and 1996, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto had visited these jihadis from thePakistani diaspora in the UK who were waging a jihad against the Serbs in Bosnia. After waging their jihad against the Serbs, these jihadisfrom the UK moved to Pakistan to join the HUA and the LET and participate in the jihad against India.
"The most notable example of the home-grown jihadis of the diaspora in the UK, who waged a jihad in Bosnia at the instance of the Britishand American intelligence and then turned against them, is Omar Sheikh. From Bosnia, he came to India to wage a jihad and was arrestedby the Indian security forces. He was released by the then Indian Government headed by Mr. A.B.Vajpayee, in December,1999, following thehijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar by a group of HUM terrorists from Pakistan. After his release, he went to Pakistan andorchestrated the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. The second notable example is Rashid Rauf, a Mirpuri, who went to Pakistan fromthe UK to join the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) after marrying a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM. He was allegedlyinvolved in the plot detected by the London Police in August last year (2006) to blow up a number of US-bound planes. This plot was hatchedby some members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK. ( My comment: Rashid Rauf was recently killed in a US Predator (unmanned plane)strike on an Al Qaeda hide-out in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas )
"The Mirpuris in the Pakistani diaspora in the UK were in the forefront of those supporting jihadi terrorism against India in Jammu andKashmir and other parts of India since 1993, when the Pakistani jihadi organisations of Afghan vintage were infiltrated into India byPakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). They collected and sent funds to the jihadi terrorists in India. Many of them underwent training inthe camps of the LET, the HUM, the JEM and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in Pakistan and assisted them in their jihadi operations. TheBritish intelligence was aware of members of the Pakistani diaspora going to Pakistan for training, but closed its eyes to it since it thoughtthat they were going to wage a jihad against the Indians in J&K.
"A careful examination of the details relating to the various jihadi terrorism-related cases in the UK would reveal that the MI 5 was intercepting the telephone conversations of these Mirpuris and other Punjabi Muslims with their friends and relatives in which they spoke oftheir going to Pakistan for jihadi training. It did not take any action against them because it thought that they were going to wage a jihadonly against the Indians and hence did not pose a threat to the British. The MI 5 intercepted the telephone conversation of even one of theperpetrators of the London blasts of July 2005, about his going to Pakistan for jihadi training. It did not act on it thinking he intended towage a jihad against the Indians. Only after the London blasts of July, 2005, did the MI 5 realise with a rude shock that this Mirpuri was talking not of going to India to wage a jihad against the Indians, but to London to wage a jihad against the British.
"There is a sheepish, but indirect admission of this in the statement issued by the MI 5 rebutting criticism of its perceived failure to preventthe London blasts. It says: "RUMOUR: In February 2004, the Security Service recorded Khan's (Mohammed Siddique Khan) wish to fight andhim saying goodbye to his family - a clear indication that he intended a suicide mission. REALITY: The Security Service did recordconversations involving an individual identified after 7 July as Khan. From the context of the recorded conversation it is probable that Khanwas talking about going to fight with militia groups in the Pakistan border areas. He was not talking about acts of terrorism in the UK."
" Today, innocent British civilians are paying for the sins of commission and omission of their authorities since jihadi terrorism broke out inIndian territory in 1989. It would be very difficult for the MI 5 to have an accurate idea of the number of trained Pakistani jihadis already intheir midst. Reliable Police sources in Pakistan say that there are at least about 200 trained, potential suicide bombers in the Pakistanidiaspora in the UK waiting for an opportunity to strike. These trained potential suicide bombers also provide a recruitment reservoir forfuture operations of Al Qaeda in the US homeland.
"The position in the Pakistani diaspora in the US is somewhat different. The initial wave of migrants to the US from Pakistan consistedlargely of Urdu-speaking Mohajirs from Sindh, who originally went to Pakistan from India. The influence of the more tolerant Barelvi sect onthem is still very strong. The extremist Deobandi/Wahabi ideology has not yet made the same impact on them as it has on thePunjabi-speaking Pakistani diaspora in the UK. Moreover, there has hardly been any migration of the Mirpuris from the POK into the US.Most of the Kashmiri migration into the US has been of ethnic Kashmiris----either the Hindu Pandits, who were driven out of the Valley by thejihadi terrorists after 1989, or sufi Muslims from the Valley. The Muslims from the valley, who had migrated to the US from J&K, are politicallyactive against India, but they have so far kept away from the Deobandis and Wahabis.
"Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the migration of Punjabi-speaking Muslims from Pakistan into the US. There has beengrowing Deobandi/Wahabi influence on them. It is these elements that Al Qaeda has been targeting for recruitment. A saving grace is thatthe US intelligence has a better awareness than the British of the dangers that could arise from its population of Pakistani origin and hasbeen keeping a tight watch on them. The British are paying a heavy price for their negligence till now."
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies,Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com)