India scored a major diplomatic victory over Pakistan when the United States designated the largest militant group fighting against Indian rule in the divided Kashmir region as a “foreign terrorist" organization. For India, the terror label on the banned Hizbul Mujahideen, or HM, is a strong affirmation of its argument that the violence in its only Muslim majority region is fueled by Islamic militant groups that operate from Pakistan, what India has long called “cross-border terrorism." Islamabad denies the charges.
On August 16, 2017 the US Department of State designated Hizbul Mujahideen—also known as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, also known as HM — as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.
Formed in 1989, HM is one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen is led by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014, explosives attack in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) is one of the largest terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and stands for the integration of J&K with Pakistan. Since its formation the HuM has also wanted the islamization of Kashmir. According to CSIS, the ISI "introduced several pro-Pakistani groups" into the struggle over Kashmir, including the Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al- Islami. CSIS adds that many of these groups "traditionally grew and operated with state support". According to the BBC, the Pakistani government-supported Hizbul Mujahideen was established with a mandate to fight Indian forces and the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
The HM was formed in 1989 in the Kashmir Valley with Master Ahsan Dar as its chief. Dar was later arrested by security forces in mid-December 1993. It was reportedly formed as the militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) at the behest of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's external intelligence agency, to counter the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which had advocated complete independence of the State. Many of the early Hizb cadres were former JKLF members.
Jamiat Taleba Arabia was involved in Afghanistan from the very beginning. It joined the Jehad in Kashmir as soon as the Kashmiris started their armed struggle in 1990 and was fully involved by 1993. The members of the Jamiat Taleba Arabia fought under the umbrella of Gulbadin Hakmatyar’s Hizbe Islami in Afghanistan and, in Occupied Kashmir, under the discipline of the hizbul Mujahideen.
The Pakistan Army and the ISI managed in the 2005 timeframe to maintain a total of about 1,600 foreign mercenaries always active in J&K—more in the Jammu Division where the Hindus are in a majority and less in the Kashmir Division, where the Muslims are in a majority. In addition to the foreign mercenaries, about 1,700 Kashmiris recruited from J&K as well as the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) were also trained by the ISI in camps located in the POK and elsewhere and infiltrated into J&K. They largely belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), the militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which calls for the merger of J&K with Pakistan. The JEI of J&K is an appendage of the JEI of Pakistan, which is a strongly anti-US , anti-India and anti-Israel organisation.
In June 1990, the HM 'Constitution' was approved and Mohammed Yusuf Shah, popularly known as Syed Salahuddin, was appointed Patron and Hilal Ahmed Mir as Amir (chief). Apparently, differences between JeI elements and the non-JeI faction started developing within the HM which led to a split with one faction being led by Salahuddin whereas the other was led by Hilal Ahmed Mir (killed in 1993).
On 24 July 2000, the Hizbul Mujahideen announced a unilateral ceasefire and publicly expressed a willingness to initiate talks with the Government of India. The Government of India responded positively to the offer. The people of Jammu and Kashmir enthusiastically welcomed the development. The subsequent announcement by the Hizbul Mujahideen that the ceasefire had been withdrawn naturally came as a deep disappointment to all those who were looking forward to the return of peace to Jammu and Kashmir. The nature, location, context and content of the announcement by the Hizbul Mujahideen leader, Syed Salahuddin could leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that it was Pakistan which had sabotaged the prospects of peace in the State. The Hizbul Mujahidden leader said that his organisation had withdrawn from the proposed talks because of India’s unwillingness to invite Pakistan as the third participant in the talks. Indeed, all statements from Islamabad since 24 July 2000 made it obvious that the ceasefire did not fit in with Pakistan’s design of continuously promoting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. On another plane, from the beginning, the response of the Hurriyat leadership to the Hizbul initiative was not just cold, they even labelled it as a ’hasty’ move. It seemed that the Hurriyat leadership was acting under pressure from Pakistan. They certainly did not act in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir and thus compromised the well being of the people of the State.
Hizb-ul-Mjuahideen is headquartered at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), and with an estimated cadre strength of at least 1500, was headed by Syed Salahuddin. The patron of HM in PoK is Ghulam Nabi Nausheri. Ghazi Nasiruddin was the outfit's 'chief commander of operations' in the Kashmir Valley. He succeeded Saif-ul-Islam alias Ghulam Rasool Khan alias 'Engineer' Zaman, who was killed in a major counter-insurgency operation on April 2, 2003, at Nowgam Chowk, on the outskirts of capital Srinagar. Saleem Hashmi is the spokesperson of the outfit.
The HM was organised into five divisions: central division for Srinagar, northern division for Kupwara-Bandipora-Baramulla, southern division for Anantnag and Pulwama districts, Chenab division for Doda district and Gool in the Udhampur district, and Pir Panjal Division for the Rajouri and Poonch districts. The Hizb reportedly has a substantial support base in the Kashmir Valley and in the Doda, Rajouri, Poonch districts and parts of Udhampur district in the Jammu region.
The HM has conducted a number of operations against Indian military targets in Jammu and Kashmir. The group also occasionally strikes at civilian targets in Jammu and Kashmir but has not engaged in terrorist acts elsewhere.
The HM is closely linked to the Jamaat-e-Islami, both in the Kashmir Valley and in Pakistan. Overseas, it is allegedly backed by Ghulam Nabi Fai's Kashmir American Council and Ayub Thakur's World Kashmir Freedom Movement in the USA. The HM had established contacts with Afghan Mujahideen groups such as Hizb-e-Islami, under which some of its cadre is alleged to have received arms training in the early 1990s.
The HM is reported to have a close association with the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence and the United Jehad Council, and other terrorist organizations operating out of Pakistan. Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin also headed the United Jihad Council [UJC].
On 06 September 2009 and Indian Police Station in Srinagar received an information to the effect that some persons affiliated to terrorist organizations including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jesh-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen - with intention to promote militancy and destabilize the economy of the country - were running fake currency trade in South Kashmir and Srinagar and roaming in Lal Chowk area along with fake currency for its exchange with genuine Indian currency. During the course of investigation, arrest of the four accused persons was effected from KMD, Srinagar and fake currency, Mobile Phones and Identity cards were recovered from them. In June 2015 Hizbul Mujahideen, the Kashmiri separatist group whose leader Syed Salahuddin was based in Pakistan, said it had expelled Abdul Qayoom Najar over his involvement in "gruesome murder" and the "character assassination of established pro-freedom leadership". Indian security forces say Najar leads a breakaway group called Lashkar-e-Islam that carried out a series of recent attacks around the town of Sopore, killing five telecoms workers and vendors.
At least 45 people died in the valley since the death of Burhan Wani, a young leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, which had been fighting since the 1990s against Indian rule. Burhan Wani, a commander in Kashmir's largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed 09 July 2016 in fighting after Indian troops, acting on a tip, cordoned a forested village in the southern Kokernag area. Wani, in his early 20s, had become the iconic face of Kashmir's militancy, using social media to rally supporters and reach out to other youths like him who had grown up amid hundreds of thousands of Indian armed forces deployed across the region. Police Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described Wani's killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years. As news of his death spread, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several places in Kashmir, denouncing the killing and chanting slogans against Indian rule.