Jamaat ul-Fuqra (JF) or "community of the impoverished", a terrorist outfit operating in Pakistan and North America, was formed by a Pakistani cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, in New York in 1980, on his first visit to the US. Mubarak Gilani's intention in forming the outfit was to 'purify' Islam through violence.
Ideology, Leadership and Structure
The JF, in its early phase, sought to counter what is perceived as excessive Western influence on Islam. It also concluded that violence was a significant aspect in its quest to purify Islam. In its ideological moorings, the Fuqra regards as enemies of Islam all those who do not follow the tenets of Islam as laid out in the Koran, including those Muslims who they consider as heretics as well as non-Muslims. One of Gilani's works published by the Quranic Open University in the US and seized in a 1991-investigation instructed his cadres that their foremost duty was to wage Jehad against the ‘oppressors of Muslims'. Members of the group are described as Islamist extremists with much hatred toward their ‘enemies'.
The JF is loosely structured with certain elements working openly through social service organisations to recruit members, raise money, organise activities and carry out propaganda. Individuals selected to live on JF premises agree to abide by the law and discipline of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra. Investigations by the Colorado Attorney General's Office in the 1980s indicated that the JF was composed of approximately 30 different 'Jamaats' or communities, more or less mobile in nature. Most of these 'Jamaats' are reportedly existent even today along with what investigators discerned to be several covert paramilitary training compounds, one of which had been located in a mountainous area near Buena Vista, Colorado prior to the Colorado prosecutions in the mid-1990s.
Within 10 years of its formation, Fuqra's communes in the US attracted many Muslim converts-including some of those recruited in prisons. The JF is said to comprise of some 1,000 to 3,000 members in the US. Secrecy is the hallmark of the outfit and cadres are reportedly well versed in the use of aliases. The Fuqra's structure is well concealed behind front outfits and consists of a network of safe houses and cells. Furthermore, the JF founder as well as cadres consistently maintain that it does not exist. JF members occasionally travel abroad for ‘paramilitary and survivalist training' under Gilani's supervision.
Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who also calls himself the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr, is the chief of JF.
Jamaat ul-Fuqra is headquartered in Hancock, New York.
Areas of Activity and Influence
Although Gilani, the reclusive chief of Fuqra resides in Lahore, Pakistan, most JF cells are located in North America. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural properties in North America to live as a community, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture. The group has set up and funded rural communes that the US authorities allege are linked to murder, bombings and other felonies throughout the US and Canada. Currently, there are half a dozen Fuqra residential compounds in rural hamlets across the US sheltering hundreds of cadres, some of who have reportedly trained in the use of weapons and explosives in Pakistan.
Muslims of the Americas, a tax-exempt group established in the US in 1980 by Gilani, operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims in many states in the US, including in Binghamton in New York, Badger in California, York in South California and Red House in Virginia. JF is reportedly linked through court documents to the Muslims of Americas. There is also a road in the name of Sheikh Gilani in the vicinity of Virginia. The cult houses between 100 and 200 people, many of them women and children in about 20 huge trailers. There is also a Virginia newspaper, the Islamic Post, founded by Sheikh Gilani.
Linkages and Incidents
Jamaat al-Fuqra, also described as a cult, is currently the focus of a probe by US authorities for charges ranging from links with terrorist groups to laundering money into Pakistan.
In the 1980s, they carried out various terrorist acts, including numerous fire-bombings across the United States. JF's early targets in North America were ethnic Indians and targets linked to various Indian sects. In July 1983, Stephen Paul Paster, a front ranking JF member, was responsible for planting a pipe bomb at a Portland hotel owned by followers of the Bhagwan Rajneesh cult. After his arrest in Colorado, Paster served four years of a 20-year prison sentence for the bombing. He was suspected but not charged in two other bombings in Seattle in 1984 - the bombings of the Vedanta Society temple and the Integral Yoga Society building. Currently, Paster is reported to be based in Lahore, Pakistan, from where, intelligence sources say, he provides explosives training to Fuqra cadres.
After the Portland bombing, two Fuqra cadres allegedly killed Mozaffar Ahmad, a leader of the minority Ahmadiyyah sect in Canton, Michigan. Both the suspects reportedly perished in a fire they had set at the Ahmadiyyah mosque in nearby Detroit. The JF is also reported to have been involved in the killing of three Indians on August 1, 1984 in a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. Besides, the JF is suspected to be involved in a series of fire bombings of Hindu and Hare Krishna temples in Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia and Kansas City.
US officials in 1989, during a search of a storage locker in Colorado Springs, recovered a large cache of armaments and documents with multiple links to the JF. Among the arms recovered were handguns, semi-automatic firearms, explosives, pipe bombs, bomb components and several bombs. Some of the seized documents described the activities and code of the "Muhammad Commandos of Sector 5," who were reportedly involved in arms training and intelligence gathering. The documents, including maps and lists, contained details of potential JF targets and victims in Los Angeles, Arizona and Colorado––oil and gas installations and electrical facilities, US. Air Force Academy and other military sites, people in 12 US states and Canada with Jewish or Hindu-sounding names. Various JF publications were seized during this search. Titles of some of the publications seized included "Guerrilla Warfare", "Counter Guerrilla Operations", "Understanding Amateur Radio", and "Fair Weather Flying," and "Basic Blueprint Reading and Sketching."
In 1991, JF's plans to bomb an Indian cinema and a Hindu temple near Toronto were unsuccessful. Five JF cadres were arrested at the Niagara Falls border crossing after US Customs agents searched their cars and found visual evidence and plans of the interiors of the targets and a description of time bombs. A Canadian jury convicted three American JF cadres of conspiracy to commit mischief and endanger life. A fourth suspect, who had come to Canada from Pakistan shortly before the planned bombing, fled to Pakistan after his colleagues' arrest, according to evidence presented at the trial.
In the 1990s, JF was more often than not operating under the guise of two front groups, ‘Muslims of the Americas' and ‘Quranic Open University'. The latter portrayed itself as a religious and charitable educational institution dedicated to studying the Quran.
Gilani has reportedly admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in donations from America. A large segment of JF members have been convicted of criminal acts, including murder and fraud. With the US State Department outlawing Fuqra and listing it as one of the proscribed groups in its annual reports, the activities of the outfit decreased relatively. The JF supports various terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Gilani has linkages with Islamist terrorist groups like the Hamas and Hezbollah. Although dormant in terms of real activity, JF has an active link with the terrorist groups in Pakistan and provides both moral and material assistance to these groups.
JF cadres are suspects in at least 10 unsolved assassinations and 17 firebombing cases between 1979 and 1990.
In 1993 Fuqra members in Colorado were convicted of participating in a conspiracy resulting in the killing of a Muslim religious figure in Arizona.
One of the persons convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was Clement Rodney Hampton-el, a Fuqra member. JF was linked in a Congressional testimony to the planning of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Gilani is now in Pakistani custody for the abduction of US journalist Daniel Pearl. Official sources in Pakistan have indicated that Daniel Pearl was attempting to meet Gilani in the days before he disappeared in Karachi. Pakistani police arrested Gilani in Rawalpindi on January 30, 2002 and shifted him to Karachi for questioning. Although he denied any link to the abduction, police also detained several of his colleagues. Consequent to his arrest, he reportedly told his interrogators that he had links with the Pakistani intelligence agencies.
A media report has indicated that the JF is also being probed for links with Richard Reid, a Briton, accused of trying to use explosives in his shoes to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner on December 22, 2001.
A house in Virginia believed to be linked to the JF was raided by police in December 2001 and two persons were arrested for illegally purchasing guns.
Three suspected US-based JF members have been arrested on weapons charges in the year 2001, including two following the September 11 multiple terrorist attacks. Vicente Rafael Pierre, a 44-year-old native of Brooklyn and his wife Traci Upshur, both JF cadres, were arrested on gun charges and convicted on November 30, 2001. Pierre's Virginia compound, near the Red House Commune, is reported to have served as a JF base.
A money laundering scheme run by the Red House Commune is reportedly similar to a Colorado operation that was shut down in 1993. Colorado law enforcement agencies convicted five JF cadres for defrauding the Colorado government of approximately $350,000 through bogus workers' compensation claims. Prosecuting agencies have indicated that the amount had been laundered through Professional Security International (PSI), a JF security firm, and Muslims of the Americas. A portion of the funds was tracked through PSI to JF couriers who traveled to Pakistan. The PSI reportedly enabled JF cadres to obtain federal licenses to buy weapons. The Fuqra is also suspected of having two more security firms located in New York.
The Fuqra also reportedly has various broad schemes to take government entitlement money and utilise it to fund terrorist activities. The commune in Colorado is spread across 101 acres and police recovered bombs, weapons and plans for terrorist attacks in a raid in the year 1993. Two other communes in New York and California have shooting ranges. The 1,800-acre settlement in the Sierra Mountains in California also reportedly has an airstrip.
In a February 22, 2002 interview, Gilani said his ‘contribution' to the ‘Kashmir cause' since 1947 and to the Afghan Jehad were on record. In the same interview, Gilani claimed that both the governments of Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) had requested him to mobilise his university students to project the cause of Kashmir in the US through the media by holding rallies and informing the public. To this end, he claimed that the Kashmir-American Friendship Society was formed in 1993.
Gilani is currently under investigation for his alleged links to the al Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden and for money laundering from the US into Pakistan and vice versa. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating connections between a small black Muslim community in California's Sierra Nevada valley, called Baladullah and the JF. The FBI reportedly looked into Baladullah, a community of 30 Muslim families, while investigating into JF's activities at a remote Virginia settlement, where one person was convicted in November 2001 on charges of federal firearms violations.
(CBS) Sheikh Mubarik Gilani is the man Daniel Pearl was on the way to meet him when The Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped.
Gilani is a mysterious figure in the Islamic world. He is said to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. But for Pearl two other things set him apart. First, Gilani along with his followers have appeared on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Second, and even more provocative, the Sheikh has thousands of disciples who live right here in the United States. Dan Rather reports.
Pearl was following a lead. He thought that Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber, may have been a part of Gilani's network of disciples. When 60 Minutes II Reporter George Crile arrived in Pakistan on Feb. 11, 19 days after Pearl had been taken captive, Pearl's fate was still unknown. But Gilani was now behind bars, a principal suspect in Pearl's kidnapping.
In the world of militant Islam, Khalid Khawaja seems to be a friend of just about everyone. Osama Bin Laden is one of his closest friends. But he is even closer to Gilani, and that's why last January, when Pearl wanted to reach Gilani, he came to Islamabad to find Khawaja.
Khawaja told Crile that he had met with Pearl. "He came to me, in, I think, in the end of September, maybe. Or, somewhere in that, he called me from Bombay. That he is coming to Karachi. Then he came to Karachi. And he asked me to introduce him with some people in Karachi. I did that." He says he specifically told Pearl that Sheikh Gilani would not see him.
"He kept on calling me on various occasions, and asking my opinion, and discussing certain things with me. And then he just disappeared," says Khawaja.
Pearl disappeared into the hands of his kidnappers in Karachi and soon after, Gilani was jailed as the principal suspect.
"I have all my sympathies and- my feelings for Daniel. I was more worried about Mubarak Gilani and his family, who are in fact kidnapped, because there's nothing against them. There's no case," says Khawaja.
Crile first met Khawaja more than a year ago, when he introduced the former to the world of Osama bin Laden. Well before Sept. 11, Khawaja warned that America was on a collision course with Islam.
This year, Khawaja took Crile into the world of Gilani. Seven days after being jailed in connection with the Pearl kidnapping, Khawaja was the first to hear the news of Gilani's release. He told Crile that Gilani wanted to see him.
The atmosphere was tense throughout Pakistan when Khawaja set off with Crile that afternoon to meet the Gilani. Cars were being stopped and searched, houses raided. Pakistani and American officials were turning the country inside out, trying to find Pearl.
Before the kidnapping, few had heard about Gilani. But for years, the U.S. government had kept him and his organization in the State Department's report on terrorism. The same report that al Qaeda now dominates.
In the report, Gilani's organization was described as an "Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence." His followers, who call themselves The Muslims of America," are based in the United States, thousands operating in 19 states across the country.
Most of them are African-American Muslims, who live in self-contained Islamic communities, like one they named Islamville in South Carolina, with its own mosque, its own school and more than 100 residents. All of them accept Gilani as their ultimate authority.
"I am telling you, Osama doesn't have many people in America," Khawaja says. "But here (in Pakistan), he has lots and lots of followers there and followers who are, I am telling you, I am sure of one thing, Osama does not have even one of his followers as committed as Sheikh Mubarak Gilani. Osama does not have even one as committed as the least of his people.
On Feb. 12, Crile and Khawaja reached the outskirts of the city of Lahore and wove their way through the back streets and dirt roads that lead to the Sheikh's walled compound. The Sheikh welcomed them into his home. Was this man at the heart of a terror network that threatened the U.S.? Was he behind Richard Reid? Crile had the opportunity to ask those questions, to a man who does not operate in public and does not give interviews.
Gilani said that he had nothing to do with Pearl's kidnapping. He also said he did not know anything about Richard Reid, and that Reid was not part of his group.
As the Sheikh explained, he doesn't see outsiders, and the last interview he granted was nearly a decade ago. But over the course of two days, he continued to answer Crile's questions.
Gilani also said he was not part of al-Qaeda. "Why should I be part of it? I don't, I just - I'm a reformer, educationist. And I am not part of anybody." He also said he didn't know bin Laden, and has never met him.
"I mean, I keep to myself. And I do what I think is best for the people who follow me. First is peace. You know, another is they should work hard for a living. And they should be honest, good, trustworthy. That's all I told them. I know- if anybody does anything wrong, why blame me? Will you blame the pope if somebody, some Christian, does something wrong?"
Gilani says that he is used to being a suspect whenever there is a terrorist act against the U.S. He wanted to talk about what he sees as the most serious threat to the world, why bad things happen in America, including acts of terrorism. These bad things, he says, are caused by invisible forces.
"There are beings who are not visible to you," he says. "But they inhabit this earth. And they are damaging, causing psychotic diseases, fits, epilepsies. And controlling the agents, controlling the human beings."
Gilani says he can control those evil forces. He says that he is not a threat to the U.S., but could be its salvation.
To understand why, he points to an American television show "The X-Files." He says the mind control and evil influence that aliens wield over human beings in the program is much like the power of the invisible forces he believes in.
"What is an X-file? Most of things - could have happened or will happen," Gilani said. "Human beings can be made to do things against their will. They can be made to commit crimes. They can made to go and kill people. You know? And all your missiles, all your rockets, space ships go up. And electronics, they can be damaged, influenced, and misdirected through the agencies of jinn beings."
Muslims all over the world also believe in these invisible evil forces that are described in the Koran. The Sheikh feels that these forces are a much bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism. He says the United States should thank him for passing on his message about the invisible world instead of accusing him of terrorism.
Gilani says that his followers are not anti-American. "In America, the Muslims are better than any part of the world," he says. "They have more freedom. They are more facilities of life. Where will they go? OK, they do something wrong, where will they go? I don't want them. That's their country. The American Muslims are better off in America than anywhere else. And they will never do anything wrong against their country. That is my directive to you and to them."
This is not exactly the marching orders you would expect from a man who had been listed in the United States report on terrorism. But Gilani and his followers, in fact, were taken off the list two years ago. And Gilani's praise for the United States seems to set him apart from so many others in Pakistan.
While Crile was there, it was confirmed that Pearl had been killed. To Khawaja, Pearl's murder represented a new level of anger moving through the world of militant Muslims. He said that Americans were no longer safe in Pakistan.
"My people did not like my roaming around with you, also. They would always tell me that ‘you're making a mistake. These people are no good.' And I am telling you, I fear that for your security and safety here. Because I don't think so, you are very safe. This is why my even family today, told me to request you to go back."
Militant Muslims seek Virginia base Jerry Seper and Steve Miller
RED HOUSE, Va. - Militant American Muslims operating out of rural communes in California and other Western states have targeted this rural Virginia community for an influx of members who have ties to Middle Eastern terrorists.
Law-enforcement authorities said the Muslims - mostly converts - are expected to join with radical Muslims living on 45 acres in this small Charlotte County community, 25 acres near Meherrin in neighboring Prince Edward County and on other parcels of land owned by the group's members and supporters.
Muslims in the Red House area have been negotiating to purchase an additional 100-acre site in neighboring Campbell County, authorities said, adding that a number of the radical group's members also have purchased smaller lots in the region.
The suspected Western exodus likely was sparked by the shutting down of Gateway Academy Charter School in Fresno, Calif. The 12-school charter, established in 1998 by Khadijah Ghafur, a Muslim convert, was closed by school officials after auditors found $1.3 million in public money was missing.
"They had a tremendous funding source here that dried up," said Dennis Peterson, an investigator for the Fresno County District Attorney's office. "They are no longer on the candy wagon, and without that money it's going to be tough times."
The California group numbers between 200 and 400 people, and members lived on a 1,000-acre tract in the Sierra Mountain foothills. Guarded by an armed post at the entrance, the encampment - known as Baladullah, or "City of God" - was the site of the International Quranic Open University, founded by Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani as an educational arm of Muslims of America, a group he founded.
The community drew the attention of local law- enforcement agencies last summer after a man studying at the university, Ramadan Abdullah, was arrested and charged in the slaying of a Fresno County sheriff's deputy.
Trial in the case is pending.
Signs posted last week at the Baladullah compound announced the pending withdrawal: "Everything must go," said one of the placards in announcing a yard sale. Several of the homes at the site were deserted.
Tulare County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Langford told the Fresno Bee he was told by some families at the compound that they would be gone by July.
The Red House and Meherrin Muslims, who number between 200 and 300 people, including women and children, have been linked to various money-laundering operations and weapons violations, and are believed to have aided and abetted various terrorist groups, authorities said.
Annual Holy Days gatherings at the Red House site, operated by Muslims of America, have drawn between 400 and 500 people from around the region.
Law-enforcement authorities said they believe radical Muslims are seeking to create a patchwork of "hide-outs" in rural southern Virginia for would-be terrorists and other extremists. They said the sanctuaries have been established to follow the teachings of Sheik Gilani.
Sheik Gilani is a Pakistani cleric who founded the tax- exempt Muslims of America in 1980, which is linked to Jamaat al-Fuqra, a terrorist group committed to waging jihad, or holy war, against the United States.
In addition to providing safe harbor for an unknown number of American Muslims faithful to Sheik Gilani, authorities believe members of Jamaat al-Fuqra are involved in laundering money bound for Pakistan.
"We know these places have become hide-outs for some of the organization's most violent members," said one law- enforcement official. "The faces of those we have seen in the communities are continually changing. It's unclear who's there at any given time and what they're doing."
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was on the way to meet Sheik Gilani in Pakistan when he was kidnapped and later killed. Mr. Pearl was investigating accusations that shoe-bomb suspect Richard C. Reid was one of Sheik Gilani's followers. Sheik Gilani was not charged in Mr. Pearl's death.
Sheik Gilani's followers have set up rural encampments throughout the United States and Canada that federal authorities believe are linked to murders, bombings and other felonies. It is not clear to authorities where the organization gets its funding, other than a few local odd jobs by group members.
One of the Red House Muslims, Vicente Pierre, was convicted in November of two felony firearms violations. Three other members of the Red House commune have been arrested on weapons charges in the past year, including two after the September 11 attacks.
During a September detention hearing for Pierre, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Tom Gallagher described al-Fuqra as a "violent, black Muslim extremist sect that acts out jihads against perceived enemies."
The State Department has said al-Fuqra seeks to purify Islam through violence.
Authorities said the FBI notified California law- enforcement agencies in the early 1990s, asking them to keep an eye on the Muslim community in the Sierra foothills. Last year, U.S. marshals arrested James Hobson, who was visiting Baladullah, on a firearms warrant out of South Carolina, where al-Fuqra has another encampment.
The case of the missing school funds in California is similar to an operation the group had in Colorado, which was shut down in 1993 by state law-enforcement officials. Five al-Fuqra members were convicted of defrauding the Colorado government of approximately $350,000 through bogus worker's compensation claims.
Muslims of America claims to be nonviolent, saying in a recent statement that Sheik Gilani "does not condone nor teach us to condone violence, especially against the innocent."
Raids by police in 1992 and 1993 on a 101-acre Muslim commune in central Colorado turned up bombs, automatic weapons, ammunition and plans for terrorist attacks. At least two of the communes - in New York and California - have shooting ranges.
What to make of the Islamic compounds across America affiliated with the Pakistani radical group Jamaat al-Fuqra? by Mira L. Boland 03/18/2002, Volume 007, Issue 26
WALL STREET JOURNAL reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped when he went looking for the leader of a group called Jamaat al-Fuqra in the terrorist bazaar of Pakistan. At the time he disappeared, Pearl was tracking reports that Fuqra had hosted would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid at its walled compound in Lahore. In the end, it was agents of another group that spirited Pearl off to his death, but Fuqra remains a subject of interest, and not only because of its activities in Pakistan. For Fuqra has had a disturbing U.S. presence for more than 20 years. Today, half a dozen Fuqra residential compounds in rural hamlets across the country shelter hundreds of members, some of whom, according to intelligence sources, have been trained in the use of weapons and explosives in Pakistan.
Fuqra's founder and chief, the man Pearl sought to interview, is a rotund Kashmiri of Sufi background with long-standing ties to Pakistan's Interservice Intelligence Agency (ISI), Sheikh Mubarik Ali Hasmi Shah Gilani. At least until President Musharraf's decision last fall to support the American war on terrorism, the ISI sponsored terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Sheikh Gilani has rubbed shoulders at international terrorist confabs with gunslingers from Hamas and Hezbollah, their mullah backers, and Osama bin Laden. And he has trained fighters for the battlefields of Kashmir, Chechnya, and Bosnia.
Gilani launched his U.S. operations in 1980. Within ten years, Fuqra's communes were billing themselves as havens where Muslim converts--many of them inner-city blacks, sometimes recruited in prison--could build new lives. At least seven such communities are active today, in Hancock, N.Y.; Red House, Va.; Tulare County, Calif.; Commerce, Ga.; York, S.C.; Dover, Tenn.; and Combermere, Canada. While some of these enclaves contain only rudimentary buildings and trailers, the California compound has 300 residents on a 440-acre spread, according to a recent report by a local ABC station. Residents deny any involvement with terror, but Fuqra has a history of getting into trouble with the law.
Over the years, at least a dozen Fuqra members have been convicted of crimes including conspiracy to commit murder, firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers' compensation fraud in the United States or Canada. And Fuqra members are suspects in at least 10 unsolved assassinations and 17 firebombings between 1979 and 1990. Nor is Fuqra's criminal activity all in the past. In the last year alone, a resident of the California compound was charged with first degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy; another was charged with gun smuggling; the state of California launched an investigation into the fate of more than a million dollars in public funds given to a charter school run by Fuqra leaders; and two residents of the Red House community were convicted of firearms violations, while a third awaits trial.
Harder to document publicly but affirmed by several investigators and intelligence sources are the group's continuing links with guerrilla training in Pakistan. But then elusiveness is the order of the day for an organization whose members are well versed in the use of aliases; whose structure, shrouded behind front groups, is a network of safe houses and cells; and whose founder and members consistently maintain that it doesn't exist.
SHEIKH GILANI found his first American recruits by raiding the ranks of an existing American Muslim organization, the Dar ul Islam. At a Brooklyn mosque, Gilani, sporting ammunition belts, preached Islam as the path to a better life and called for fighters to join the holy war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Under the guise of studying Islam, some of his followers were initiated into the international Islamist movement. Their campaign of crime on U.S. soil began almost at once.
As befits Gilani's close ties to Kashmir and the ISI, Fuqra's early targets in North America were ethnic Indians and sites linked to Indian sects. Thus, in July 1983, Stephen Paul Paster, a ranking member of Fuqra and one of its few whites, blew off most of one hand while planting a pipe bomb at a Portland, Ore., hotel owned by followers of the late guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. At the time Fuqra's principal bombmaker, Paster escaped from a hospital and remained on the lam for two years. After police caught up with him at a Fuqra house in Colorado, Paster served 4 years of a 20-year prison sentence for the bombing. He was suspected but not charged in two other bombings in Seattle in 1984 while he was a fugitive, the bombings of the Vedanta Society temple and the Integral Yoga Society building. Paster now lives in Lahore, where U.S. intelligence sources say he provides explosives training to visiting Fuqra members.
Shortly after the hotel bombing in Portland, two Fuqra members allegedly murdered Dr. Mozaffar Ahmad, a leader of the minority Ahmadiyyah Islamic sect in Canton, Mich. Both suspects died in a fire they had set at the Ahmadiyyah mosque in nearby Detroit, but the weapon used to murder Ahmad was found with their bodies. No one was ever charged in a triple slaying on August 1, 1984, but police suspect Fuqra. The victims were Lela Nevaskar, an Indian national who was in the United States as part of a government-sponsored health project, and her sister and brother-in-law. The three were murdered in a suburb of Tacoma, Wash., during a spate of firebombings of Hindu and Hare Krishna temples in Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, Mo. Police found news reports of the Tacoma murders from Seattle papers among Fuqra files seized in a later case.
FUQRA'S violence gained wider public notice in 1989, when police, seeking evidence in a series of thefts, searched a storage locker in Colorado Springs. They found a remarkable trove of armaments and documents, with multiple links to Fuqra.
Among the handguns, semi-automatic firearms, more than 30 pounds of explosives, pipe bombs, and bomb components were several bombs of an unusual design identical to that of a device recovered from the firebombed Hare Krishna temple in Denver. There was a large photo of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who would be convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and target silhouettes labeled FBI Anti-Terrorist Team, Zionist Pig, Delta Team, and SAS (British Special Air Service), on which were found the fingerprints of James Donald Williams, Fuqra chief for Colorado, and the handwriting of Vincente Rafael Pierre (of whom more later). There were blank birth certificates, Social Security cards, and several sets of Colorado driver's licenses bearing identical photos but various names.
Among the documents were agreements signed by Fuqra members. They promised to tithe to the organization and to further contribute to the purchase of weapons and land. Those receiving welfare "pledged" to contribute either 75 percent or 100 percent of their welfare checks and food stamps. And they stated, "I, too, am willing to be used as a channel through which kuffar [infidel] monies are contributed toward the building of an Islamic town and other allied cities and/or programmes outside the continental United States, as well." Individuals selected to live on compounds agreed to "abide by the law and discipline of Jamaatul Fuqra."
Several documents described the activities and code of the "Muhammad Commandos of Sector 5," who apparently met for training in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, intelligence gathering, explosives, incendiaries, and booby traps, according to Susan M. Fenger, then chief criminal investigator of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, who handled the case. And a document headed "Incogs" instructed commandos on ways of blending in with infidels while on an operation.
Finally, the locker yielded what Fenger termed "targeting packets" on potential targets and victims in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Colorado. These included maps of oil and gas fields and electrical facilities, notes on cell phone sites and repeaters, references to the U.S. Air Force Academy and other military locations, and lists of people in 12 states and Canada with Jewish or Hindu-sounding names. A trove of targeting packets tied followers of Gilani to the firebombings of the Hare Krishna temples in Denver and Philadelphia.
One of the packets outlined a murder plot that hadn't yet unfolded--but soon did. The target was a rival imam in Tucson, Rashad Khalifa. Alarmed by interior and exterior surveillance photographs of the cleric's mosque and a four-page handwritten murder plan, Colorado Springs police notified authorities in Tucson, who warned Khalifa he was a marked man. A week later, on January 31, 1990, assailants stabbed Khalifa 19 times. The murder was "a carbon copy of the handwritten plan," said Colorado assistant attorney general Doug Wamsley. The scheme called for attacking Khalifa in the mosque's kitchen at night, proceeding by "the quietest method feasible: knife, garrot [sic]," and eliminating any witnesses. Khalifa apparently had angered Fuqra when he preached that the Quran was written by man, not God.
No one was charged with murder in Khalifa's death, but eventually two Fuqra members, James Donald Williams and Nicolas Edward Laurent Flinton, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. A Colorado jury convicted Williams in October 1993, but he jumped bail just before sentencing and remained free until he was arrested in Lynchburg, Va., in 2000; at the time Williams was living at the Fuqra compound in Red House. Flinton also fled; arrested in 1996 at a Fuqra community in South Carolina, he pleaded guilty and is currently in prison appealing his 22-year sentence.
FUQRA terrorism in North America appears to have peaked in the early 1990s. In 1991, luck derailed Fuqra plans to bomb an Indian movie theater and a Hindu temple near Toronto. Five men were arrested at the Niagara Falls border crossing after U.S. Customs agents searched their cars and found photographs, floor plans, and videotapes of the interiors of the targets, details of "recon team," "guard team," and "hit team" roles, and a description of how "time delay" bombs could be placed below the cinema floor. A second document stated that targeting a Hindu temple would "allow for total focus on the Hindus without any other party being involved in the fallout." A Canadian jury convicted three American Fuqra members of "conspiracy to commit mischief endangering life." A fourth suspect, Max Lon Fongenie, who had come to Canada from Pakistan shortly before the plot was set in motion, fled back to Pakistan after his co-conspirators' arrest, according to evidence presented at the trial.
By this time, Fuqra was often operating under the cover of two front groups, "Muslims of the Americas" and Sheikh Gilani's "Quranic Open University." On its incorporation papers, the open university portrayed itself as a religious, charitable, and educational institution dedicated to home study and public awareness of the Quran. But Gilani's own writings and statements exposed the militant mission behind this fa ade.
Thus, works by the sheikh published by the Quranic Open University and seized in a 1991 investigation instructed his followers that their "foremost duty" was "to wage Jihad" against the oppressors of Muslims. One of Gilani's poems is entitled "We dhikr [pray] to the beat of a submachine gun." Another exhorts, "Come join my troops and army / Says our Sheikh Gilani / Prepare to sacrifice your head / A true believer is never dead / Say 'Victory is in the air' / The kafir's [infidel's] blood will not be spared."
Gilani's appearance in a recruitment video from this period (seized in 1992 and used in the Canadian trial) is in the same vein. The video shows mujahedeen types being trained in the use of firearms and explosives. Gilani, wearing a camouflage jacket over traditional Pakistani dress, declares: "We give [recruits] highly specialized training in guerrilla warfare. . . . We are at present establishing training camps. . . . You can easily reach us at Quranic Open University offices in upstate New York or in Canada or in Michigan or in South Carolina or in Pakistan. Wherever we are you can reach us."
Even more damning is footage filmed in December 1993 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company when it covered a major jihadist conclave in Khartoum. The meeting was sponsored by then-Sudanese strongman and terror impresario Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi. An urbane, Sorbonne-educated Islamic scholar, Turabi had engineered a strategic alliance among Sunni-dominated Sudan, Shiite Iran, and Pakistan. With funding and expertise from Iran, Turabi made his country the launching pad for the first attack on the World Trade Center.
Turabi also created the Popular Arab Islamic Conference (PAIC) as a vehicle for bringing together Sunni, Shiite, and secular, heretofore Marxist, terrorist groups. The 1993 PAIC conference in Khartoum was a who's who of Islamist terror. Mullahs from Iran and Afghanistan were there, along with delegates from Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Two generals, one of them a former chief of the ISI, and an adviser to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto led the Pakistani delegation. Osama bin Laden, not yet a kingpin but living in Sudan while developing the organization and funding for his nascent network, was there. So was Sheikh Gilani: Foreign journalists placed him in the company of an unnamed Pakistani general and another man they took to be an "ex"-Pakistani intelligence official. In the evening, large crowds regaled the assembled jihadists with chants of "Down, down USA! Down, down CIA!," and (in Arabic) "Death to the Jews!"
In an interview taped by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Gilani acknowledged that one or two of the men charged in the Toronto bombing conspiracy had studied with him in Lahore. Nevertheless, he insisted that Fuqra does not exist and that he does not advocate violence. "Once [people] join our [Quranic Open] university," he said, "they become real good citizens. They stop smoking, they stop stealing, they stop living on welfare. That is what I teach them."
THAT BENIGN face is the one Gilani's current American followers seek to present to the world. Several Fuqra compounds boast signs at their gates for the Quranic Open University or Muslims of the Americas. Residents have told reporters they came seeking refuge from the mean streets. Law enforcement and intelligence sources, however, suggest the drop-off in Fuqra violence in recent years may be due to its sponsors' "tightening the leash" after the earlier attacks drew police scrutiny without advancing Islamist objectives. Fuqra's core of trained operatives in the United States, according to this view, have been directed to lie dormant until needed to support a "cost effective" strike.
Be that as it may, there are plenty of continuing grounds for concern. One is new evidence of misuse of public funds. The California Justice Department is investigating the finances of GateWay Academy Public Charter School. The academy's CEO and superintendent, Khadijah Ghafur, is also secretary of Muslims of the Americas and a member of the board of directors of the Quranic Open University. One of GateWay's 11 campuses is located at Baladullah, Fuqra's compound in Tulare County, in the foothills of the Sierras. GateWay cannot account for $1.3 million in state money, according to Jill Marmolejo, spokesman for the Fresno Unified School District, and is in default on another $1.8 million in loans. The school seemed poised to obtain greater public largesse--it submitted a $5.9 million budget to the board of education for fiscal 2002, apparently based on a wildly inflated student count (charter schools in California receive $4,600 per pupil)--but the district revoked its charter on January16.
This is reminiscent of an earlier Fuqra scam, the bilking of the Colorado workers' compensation fund in the early 1990s, for which several Fuqra members were jailed. Prosecutors showed that some $350,000 had been laundered through Professional Security International, a Fuqra security firm, and Muslims of the Americas. Investigator Susan Fenger says she tracked a portion of the funds through PSI to Fuqra couriers who traveled to Pakistan.
That security firm also served the purpose of enabling Fuqra members to obtain federal licenses to buy automatic weapons, according to Fenger. And it obtained bid packages from the Defense Department, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Health and Human Services. It is hardly reassuring, then, that Fuqra currently maintains two security firms, Dagger Investigating Services and 786 Security Company, Inc., in Brooklyn, N.Y. Law enforcement sources suspect the group is continuing to launder funds through the firms for transfer to Gilani.
Then there are the recent weapons violations and other crimes. Ramadan Abdullah, charged in the shooting last August of a Fresno County deputy sheriff in the course of a burglary, had come to Baladullah from Hancock. James Hobson, another Baladullah resident, was arrested earlier last year by U.S. marshals and charged with smuggling guns between South Carolina and New York. Hobson, also known as Umar Abdussalam, is the son-in-law of Musa Abdussalam, an elder at Baladullah.
And at the Red House commune--whose origins go back to 1993, after Fuqra abandoned its Buena Vista, Co., location in the wake of conspiracy convictions--agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms made three arrests last fall. They charged Vincente Rafael Pierre and his wife Traci Elaine Upshur after she made "straw purchases" of .45 caliber handguns that her husband had selected. As a felon (he pleaded guilty in the workers' compensation scam), Pierre is not allowed to own firearms. A jury convicted both. A third Red House resident, Abdullah Ben Benu, is scheduled for trial in April for illegally transporting ammunition for AK-47 automatic rifles. Here, again, a trail leads back to Pakistan: The woman who raised Ben Benu is living in Lahore, according to law enforcement sources, with bombmaker Stephen Paul Paster.
The ATF had the Red House colony under surveillance for a couple of years before making last fall's arrests. After September 11, authorities decided to move without further delay. At a bond hearing for Vincente Pierre on September 28, 2001, ATF Special Agent Thomas P. Gallagher told the court: "Individuals from the organization are trained in Hancock, N.Y., and if they pass the training in Hancock, N.Y., are then sent to Pakistan for training in paramilitary and survivalist training by Mr. Gilani. . . . We have information from an informant that one individual [from Red House] did further his training by going to Afghanistan."
And apparently the travel isn't all one way. At the same hearing, Pierre testified that Red House has hosted "many Muslims . . . from Pakistan, Arabic." Pakistan, of course, isn't an Arab country, but plenty of Arabs have gone there to learn to use a gun.
There is no ironclad evidence that Fuqra's American members today are part of the international conspiracy that threatens us. Rather, the ties are circumstantial and suggestive. What should be made, for example, of the fact that several weekend residents of Fuqra's headquarters compound at Hancock work during the week as toll collectors at New York City bridges and tunnels--considering that the 1993 World Trade Center bombers had plans to blow up the George Washington Bridge and Hudson River tunnels? We also know that in the early 1990s Gilani's U.S. recruits signed an oath saying, "I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah's sake." At the least, it is clear that Daniel Pearl was digging into a very interesting story.
MIM: Background on the ISI Pakistani security services ties to terrorism.
Article Author : Maj Gen YASHWANT DEVA AVSM (Retd)
Spying is the second oldest profession and nowhere else has it flourished more in a short span of time, that too, with professional élan, than in Pakistan. Known by an innocuous sounding Inter Services Intelligence, abbreviated ISI, it is a wellspring of power and one of the most virile intelligence agencies in the Third World. Its forte lies in intrigue, hatching conspiracies, brokering terrorism and paddling misinformation.
In recent months, the ISI has been in the limelight, its skulduggery having received a new thrust; - and notoriety, fresh showing. A report has been submitted to the House of Representatives by a US task force on terrorism and unconventional warfare. The report, titled, "The New Islamic International" is significant in revealing the exploits of the ISI. That the original document is dated 1 Feb, 1993 and that it has some inaccuracies, does not make the findings any less weighty.
A chilling account" of the role of the ISI's involvement with Sikh militants, bombing of Kanishka and American, indifference, even complicity, has been chronicled in a TV documentary of the "Fifth Estate" of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The documentary deplores the stark incertitude of the US administration, although it had all the evidence at its command. What is worse, by overplaying India's human rights record, Washington has rewarded and encouraged ISI in its evil pursuits. Another TV feature produced by CNN, traces the ISI connection to Afghan Mujahideen and their involvement with the bomb explosion at the World Trade Centre. The two documentaries together, and the Canadian one by itself constitute the most damning indictment of the ISI Involvement in terrorism in India.
There is no let-up in ISI's activities in Kashmir, which include recruitment, training, arming and induction of terrorist bands, besides guidance in planning and conduct of operations. ISI has a strong connection with Sheikh Mubarak Shah Jiiani and his fundamentalist outfit AI Fuqra. The group was responsible for "a decade long string of assassinations and bombings in the name of Islamic purity."' Lately, the ISI has ventured in the heartland through promotion of narco- terrorism chauvinism. That the organisation has a collaborator in the Nepalese Parliament, is sinister enough, but far more portentous is the patron-age bestowed by the Bangladesh Government to the organisation for promoting insurgency in the North East. Recently, a diabolic plot has been unravelled, which suggests that ISI, with a view to destabilising the country and creating mayhem, had planned to repeat the Bombay blasts and ignite communal riots all over India to coincide with the Republic Day celebrations. With the arrest of four Pakistanis, one Bangladeshi and one Indian in the capital by the Delhi police, a major breakthrough in exposing diabolic designs of the ISI has been achieved. "Though intelligence agencies are still trying to fully comprehend the ramifications of the latest ring unearthed by them, the case is perhaps the most brazen attempt of Pakistan-trained nationals being sent to create terror countrywide; the low intensity proxy war transcending to practically open hostilities."
Mission, Budget and Organisation The ISI was founded in 1948 by a British army officer, Maj Gen R Cawthome, then Deputy Chief of Staff in Pakistan Army. He conceived it as part of the military establishment, intended to combine and co-ordinate intelligence set-ups of the Services. Over the years, it gathered influence and when Zia seized power, it acquired real muscle. Today, the ISI has achieved the dubious distinction of being the most dreaded outfit, within; and a master-hand in dispensing terrorism, without.
ISI charter incorporates gathering of external and internal intelligence; co-ordination of intelligence functions of the three Services; surveillance over its cadre, foreigners, media men, politically conscious segments of Pak society, diplomats of other countries accredited to Pakistan and Pak diplomats serving outside the country; interception and monitoring of communications; and conduct of covert offensive operations.
Unlike intelligence agencies of other countries, the top and middle rung officers of the ISI are exclusively drawn from the military establishment. Its chief is designated as director general and appointed from amongst the serving lieutenant generals; although there has been one exception when a retired officer was assigned to the post. During Yahya Khan's rule, the DG also headed the newly created National Security Council and that added to his stature and influence. Under the DG there are three deputy director generals (DDGs), one each from the army, the navy and the air force. The ISI mans a Military Liaison Section (MLS) in the Ministry of Interior.
ISI is a major beneficiary of Pakistan's national budget, with a large unaccountable chunk coming from the defence outlay. In Pakistan, no one knows, not even the Prime Minister, as to how much ISI costs to run or precisely how many people it employs. But today, the ISI enjoys total support of the Prime Minister. The fact that, both, she and her father had suffered at the hands of ISI has been forgotten and treated as a closed chapter. She has learnt the bitter lesson from her previous tenure as the Prime Minister, when she confronted the organisation and tried to clip its wings. In the battle of wits, the ISI won and retained its clout; she lost and was sent packing. ISI continues to call the shots, the inspired views of its devaluation notwithstanding.
During the late 80s the most powerful component of the organisation was Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB), which handled political intelligence. In her earlier incarnation as the PM, Benazir ordered transfer of the functions of JIB to the Interior Ministry, but the rumour has it that the sensitive files and dossiers were, instead, moved to the GHQ. Later, they found their way back to the very drawers and cabinets from which they were taken out. And now the ISI has become a law unto itself.
An equally powerful component of the ISI is the Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB), it continues to wear authority and influence on its sleeves. It has a director for field surveillance, who keeps a watch on Pak diplomats accredited to other countries. The bureau conducts intelligence operations in Asia and the Middle East. Its special spheres of interest are. the countries of South Asia, a common knowledge; and China, a fact not so well known. ISI's operations in China were started in collaboration with the CIA and perhaps continue to be so; this activity is passionately disguised and denied for obvious reasons. Lately, Afghanistan and Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union too, are being handled by JCIB and these countries have become a favourite haunt of ISI agents." The wing also keeps IS Directorate under surveillance through a section referred to as ISSS and prepares reports for the chief executive; for the latter purpose, there is a director attached to the PM's Secretariat.
Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) deals with espionage in foreign countries and offensive intelligence operations. J&K affairs, including infiltration, exfilteration, propaganda and shady operations, is the mission assigned to JIN (an abbreviation standing for Joint Intelligence : North) under DDG External II, a post generally held by a major general. While the IN is staffed by military technocrats, who could be described in modern parlance as system analysts, the cloak and dagger stuff is the preserve of operational cells and forces, dedicated to the mission. Those exclusively set up for J&K have been periodically wound up and then re-created with the aim of causing confusion. During Zia's time, a special cell was established for Afghanistan which had under it deputy directors responsible for political affairs, training, arms distribution and refugees. This was disbanded after the Jallalabad fiasco. Although no precise information is available, it is believed that a similar cell was created for imparting training and distribution of arms to the Sikh extremists and it continues to be active.
Another field in which the ISI has been highly successful, is gathering of signal Intelligence. This mission is assigned to JSIB (Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau) which has DDs (Deputy Directors) Wireless, Monitoring and Photos on its establishment. The organisation runs a chain of intercept stations along the entire Indo-Pak border, besides providing communication support to the militants operating in the Valley. In the spring of 1992, it was estimated that there were about 200 clandestine radio stations operating on the Indian soil.
JIX is the largest wing, which serves as the secretariat. It co-ordinates the functions of other wings and field organisations, prepares intelligence estimates and threat perceptions, besides giving administrative support to the organisation.
Zia's Contribution to ISI's Growth It is tragic that in the middle ages, most Islamic politics degenerated and settled down as personal despotism, the egalitarian spirit and appeal of the religion notwithstanding. Aggressive Islamization in Pakistan, true to historical legacy, has proceeded in tandem with Zia's totalitarian statecraft. Zia found in the ISI a useful instrument to synthesise the two with a view to eliminating internal opposition and promoting fanaticism, which inter alia included such insidious ploys as exporting terrorism and conducting raids in the name of jihad. He cleverly manipulated the diverse, yet coterminous aphorism of Khomeini's Islamic revolution and American foreign policy objectives in support of policy of subversion in Afghanistan and when that showed promise, made a grand design to destabilise India.
A strong component of American foreign policy interest at the fag end of the Cold War was to ostracise communist influence in Afghanistan and teach the former Soviet Union a lesson for its interventionist policies. "In pursuance of this objective CIA forged a close relationship with the ISI, through which three billion dollars worth of arms were channelled to the Afghan Mujahideen. Hekmatyar was adopted as the intelligence agencies favourite surrogate to prosecute America's Proxy war against the Soviet Union." Zia utilised the opportunity not only to rehabilitate his tarnished international image by becoming a front-line warrior against the communist menace but also to settle scores with India.
During Zia's reign, the ISI fuelled the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir. In domestic affairs, it acquired a special status and immense power. Experience in Afghanistan, where in collusion with the CIA, It conducted one of the biggest covert operations in the world since the end of the Vietnam war gave its teeth a sharper bite. It luxuriated in joint collaboration with CIA and was privy to arcane ways, learning the latest tricks of the trade. In Afghanistan, it played one group of the Mujahideen against the other and then presided over the assemblage to compose differences and broker accords. It did not spare its mentors, the CIA. Without their knowledge and concurrence, it helped itself to dollars and siphoned off arms meant for Mujahideen to Iran, an arch enemy of the US. When the beans were spilled and the US decided to send a fact-finding and stock-taking board, it fudged records, put Ojhri camp to the torch and destroyed the incriminating evidence.
Internal involvements In his book, If I am Assassinated, Bhutto charged that the ISI was actively used to spy on him, whereas it had failed miserably when it came to gathering hard intelligence in both, 1965 and 1971 operations. He writes, "How did Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan use the intelligence agencies? Yahya Khan used to the hilt the intelligence agencies for political purposes to divide the politicians and influence the elections of 1979." In the same vein, he repeats, "Ayub Khan also used the intelligence agencies for political purposes to the hilt . . . He tried to prevent my party from getting off the ground." Narrating the episode when Ayub Khan sought an explanation about the inability of the ISI to locate the Indian Armoured Division, he quotes DG, ISI Brig Riaz Hussain of having replied, "Sir, from June 1964, Military Intelligence has been given political assignments on elections and post-election repercussions."
Bhutto on ISI Bhutto, in the book If I am Assassinated writes extracts of the White Paper issued by the Zia administration that it "demonstrates its piety with crocodile tears on the role of the intelligence agencies of the State as a political arm of the government of Pakistan People's Party." He writes that on page 195, the White Papers registers it concern in the following words.. "The role of the intelligence agencies of the State as a political arm of the PPP regime, particularly in relation to the general elections, raises many disconcerting questions. When politics permeates such sensitive institutions as the Intelligence Bureau or the ISI, it naturally deflects them from their prime concern with the State's external and internal security. Political bias against dissenting political parties which are a very necessary component of a democratic society, also tends to complicate and distort the task of State security."
Bhutto refutes the allegations and writes that Lt Gen G Jilanl was DG of ISI before he became President of Pakistan on 20 Dec 1971, that except for him, "all the officials incharge of intelligence at the federal level were arrested on the night of the coup, or within a month of it," that Jilanl was "not touched but on the contrary was sent to the Defence Ministry as its Secretary." He further adds, "This question must be considered in conjunction with Lt Gen Jilanl's successful effort in influencing me to consider the then Maj Gen Zia-ui-Haq for the post of the Chief of Staff in suppression of about six Generals. This is only a fraction of the story. But even with this minimum disclosure I would like to ask who exploited whom? Did the Military Intelligence Chief and his Chief of Staff exploit me or I exploited them?" (emphasis added).
Undoubtedly Bhutto suffered at the hands of the ISI, but he cannot be absolved of his contribution to the breeding of this Frankenstein. Of his own admission, he mooted the suggestion for "the merger of Central Intelligence Agencies into one integrated intelligence department divided into two categories (i) internal and (ii) external. Obviously, he conceived a greater role for the ISI, hoping to keep his position secure by placating the military's most powerful army, but the chicks came home to roost. It was Zuifiqar, who legalised the ISI's involvement in domestic surveillance, for which he paid heavily. Benazir, too, had wrecked her reputation and suffered a smash-up when she tried to take on the ISI. Today, she is an ardent supporter of the organisation and a collaborator of its misdemeanours.
Proxy War in Kashmir The extent of Pakistani and Afghan influence on the Islamic transformation of the Kashmiri insurgency is quite clear. In mid-Eighties, Islamic revivalism had taken a "radical political stance", slogans advocating establishment of an Islamic state were publicly raised and received with growing popularity. The population came under the influence of the leadership of Jamaati-islami and Khomeinists. By 1984, an Islamic radicalisation had developed that saw the rise of such movements as JKLF, Kashmir Liberation Front, the Mahaz-e-Azadi and the Liberation League.
By 1985, Jamaat-e-lsiami and Al-Jihad movements had become influential in Kashmir politics. Islamic indoctrination was provided by Jamaat-isiami of Pakistan". This is the same organisation about whose leaders Bhutto had written that, "they show a total ignorance of Islam and betray an un-islamic mentality", they "follow the ways of jahiliyat (imbecility)" and accused them of denouncing Qaid-i-Azam asKafir-e-Azam.
Al Jihad took inspiration from the ideology of the Iranian revolution. It publicly pronounced that "Islamic revolution" was the only way to liberate Kashmir. In a short span of a few years, "there was a marked erosion of the secular Kashmiri personality and a Muslim identity with fundamentalist overtones started emerging rapidly." It lent justification to give the movement "a pan-Islamic character and an extra territorial dimension."
In the early stages, the ISI used Mujahideen infrastructure to help the Kashmiri and Sikh separatists. "At times the assistance was funnelled through Afghan rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-isiami group, thus providing 1siamabad with deniability."
The report submitted by the task force to the American Congress mentions creation of a special force, which made its debut in July 1991 and within months perpetuated communal frenzy and accelerated militancy. This was the time when Pak sponsored terrorism was at its peak. The novel feature of the special force is that it has been drawn from those with operational experience in Afghanistan. Officered by mainly Punjabis, the cadre is highly motivated and willing to undertake daring assignments. They have let loose agents provocateur, who freely mingle with government functionaries in the Valley and have been known to use Indian army and police uniforms. Recent events show that they have been effective in creating bad blood between the two arms of the security outfit, pitching one against the other. A hot ploy is to commit atrocities the garb of the security forces, so that the finger of accusation is pointed in the wrong direction.
The report points out that about 20,000 young Kashmiris have been trained and armed in POK in recent years. It dwells at length over the Pakistani involvement in stoking the fire of terrorism and insurgency in Kashmir. "Indeed the very size of the Pakistani training programme is telling," it observes; and goes on to describe the breakdown of the number of trainees in the ISI run camps and their cabal affiliation.
In the manner of Maoist classical approach, 1987 to 1989 marked the first stage of insurgency. It aimed at seeding discontent and creating a nucleus of Islamic militancy; and was characterised by sporadic uncoordinated attacks on soft targets. The insurgents adopted hit and run tactics and avoided direct confrontation with the security forces. "Only expendable, barely trained terrorists were committed." Had the Indian authorities dealt with the insurgents more firmly and nipped the secessionist movement in the bud, the ISI would have suffered a dismal defeat, but the Government dilly-dallied; worst, it openly aired differences within its own ranks on the approach to be adopted. This led to the second stage, more professionalized and better co-ordinated. The assassination of Mirwaiz provided the right kind of opportunity for garnering active support for the terrorists.
In early 1992, the ISI had established a common command over the disparate military arms of organisations that had mushroomed, true to the example set by the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and the general pattern of Islamic militancy elsewhere. It succeeded in the fall of 1991, in mediating and settling an agreement between the military arms of the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen, the Allah Tigers and the Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen to launch joint and co-ordinated operations. Though somewhat tenuous, the ISI control helped in funnelling arms, ammunition and money to the militants, besides conducting training and indoctrination programmes. The training campus had started turning out more hardened and motivated gangs, well-versed in the use of sophisticated weapons, explosives and radio sets. Whereas a total of 390 cases of terrorism were reported in 1988, the number spurted to 4,971 in 1992. There was a substantial increase in the incidents against the security forces from 6 in 1988 to a high of 3,413 in 1992. The quality and the quantity of arms captured by the security forces, too, is indicative of the growing involution of the ISI. In 1988, only 34 AK-47s (or its later versions), were recovered; the figure went up to a whopping 3,775 in 1992.
The second stage was also marked by the setting up of a number of broadcasting stations in POK. These spewed communal venom and created a "spiral of hatred and violence between the security forces and the masses." Gremlin broadcasts and mischievous propaganda led to influencing the gullible and the devout, who came out on the streets with increased frequency and virulence. Sada-i-Hurriet became the instrument for hatching and mongering rumours. The fare that it dished out in local languages, is the fertile product of ISI propaganda mill. A notable achievement of the ISI is the influencing of the foreign media like AFP and BBC, whose misrepresentation of happenings in India has seriously affected peace and serenity of minorities and led to escalation of tension in the Valley .
Exporting Terrorism through Sikh Militancy Pakistan, since its creation, has never been well disposed towards Sikhs. Pakistani writings project Sikhs as barbarians, heap ridicule and pass blasphemous and disparaging remarks about the universally venerated gurus. In early Eighties, the tactics changed though not the attitude. Operation Blue Star provided the long awaited opportunity, which the ISI exploited thoroughly in creating communal fracas in Punjab and fuelling Sikh community's alienation with the government. ISI drew a crafty game-plan, initially designed to supply arms and giving refuge to those who committed crimes in India. Later, the scope was enlarged and an operation codenamed K-2 launched, which inter-alia included training to the estranged Sikh youth in the use of sophisticated arms and explosives, co-ordination with militants operating in the Valley and directing terrorist acts, both, in India and abroad. Terrorism received a fresh fillip with Indira Gandhi's assassination. As for Islamabad, this was a positive "proof of the strategic value of subversion."
By 1985 the ISI had established a vast training infrastructure for the Afghan resistance movement that could "just as well be used for training and support of other regional groups." Terrorists of Dal Khalsa were chosen for importing advance training in Afghan Mujahideen camps. A few of these trainees were killed in a Soviet raid on an Afghan training camp in Pakistan and highly incriminating documents recovered from them. It was not long before CIA trained Afghan terrorists, too, were inducted into India with the purpose of organising acts of terrorism against members of the Indian government and foreign diplomatic representatives.
There was a strategic motive too, highlighted by the US task group's report to the Congress. Pakistan's claims to Kashmir tempted ISI to sponsor and encourage creation of Khalistan. In its calculation, this would make "the Indian defence of Kashmir difficult."" Islamabad was determined to exploit growing tension in Kashmir to destabilise India and, therefore, embarked on an ambitious plan of providing training and military assistance to Punjab militants."
What could be more incriminating evidence of Pak involvement in Punjab than Benazir's own admission that she had Helped Rajiv Gandhi's government in overcoming Sikh militancy? She said this in an interview with the BBC, broadcast on 13 Feb, 1994. Howsoever, she and spokesmen of her government thed to explain away the substance of the interview, the import of this "confession", as Nawaz Shahef described her faux pas, is not lost on the international audience.
ISI's Activities in the Neighbouring Countries Elsewhere in India and other countries of South Asia, ISI is no less active. It has resurrected its old contacts, which it had assiduously cultivated in erstwhile East Pakistan and which collaborated with Pak occupation forces during the Bangladesh struggle for independence. At a press conference in Shillong at the conclusion of the 37th meeting of the North Eastem Council, the Home Minister accused Dhaka of providing a base to the ISI for its opera tions. Although Bangladesh has feigned ignorance and denied the charge, it appears from Mr Chawan's categorical statement, that his ministry has incontrovertible evidence of Bangladeshi complicity in promoting the activities of the ISI to disrupt peace in insurgency hit north east. He observed that, "it is unfortunate that even some officers in uniform have imparled training to the militants of the region to create large-scale law and order problem." His warning that unless Bangladesh government desists from supporting ISI, it could "create problems between the two countries," is timely and may invoke salutary effect.
The Republic Day plot was detected just in time by the Indian counter intelligence. The trail led to Dilshed Mirza Beg, a Member of Parliament in Nepal, belonging to Sadbhavana party. He has acted as a conduit for supplying weapons and explosives to a network of agents, spread all over India. Some links and moles have been identified; arrests too have been made, but this may be only a tip of the iceberg. Recent explosion in Odeon cinema in the capital appears to be the handiwork of ISI agents. Whereas Delhi, Secunderabad, Bombay, Lucknow and towns in J&K and Punjab are kept under watch, it is well nigh impossible to cover the entire country. The ISI has both resources and design to create mischief anywhere in India.
Anti-India Lobbying in Britain and the US Britain, Canada and the US have become important centres for lobbying and fund raising for anti-India activities, organised by the ISI. In Britain there has been a sudden spurt in the number of Muslim charities, not dedicated to purely humanitarian aims. The Guardian named two of these organisations, The "Young Muslims" and "The Islamic Foundation". The latter is headed by Prof. Khurshid Ahmed who is vice president of Jammat-i-isiami which has promoted extremism in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Khalistan lobby in the US is no less active. The case of Dr Badett is a cogent example. On 11 Feb he along with 28 Congressmen, initiated an appeal to the President, urging him to pressure the Indian government into letting Amnesty International investigate alleged human rights abuses in Punjab. The letter to Clinton was released by the Council of Khalistan. It accused the Indian government of brutal repression against the Sikh nation. The signatories say "We are concemed at the bloodshed in Punjab, Khalistan and the human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, be permitted to investigate human lights violations in the Sikh homeland."
Last year, Bariett had opposed an anti-India resolution promoted by the well known India basher Mr Den Burton. Badett's turnaround is attributed to active courting by the Khalistani lobby, exhorted by the ISI. The Khalistanis have promised hefty contributions to Bariett's election campaign against Neil Dhillon a democratic candidate, in the battle of hustings for the Maryland Constituency distinct constituency.
Concluding Remarks The US may turn a Nelson's eye to the macabre doings of the ISI and for political expediency show reluctance to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, but the bitter truth rancours. "US sources support the assertion that Washington was well aware of Pakistan's involvement with militant Sikhs during the 80s but were reluctant to make an issue of it for fear of jeopardising the campaign to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Canadian intelligence sources confirm that neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor the CIA provided any useful assistance during the investigation of Kanishka bombing. Prosecutors in World Trade Centre case argue that the conspiracy was actually hatched in Peshawar.
What happened in Afghanistan is being repeated in Kashmir. There are as many "Azaadi" groups as was the motley that constituted Mujahideen. God forbid if they too achieve their objective, the fate of Kashmir will be no different from that of Afghanistan. Pakistan will exploit every opportunity to rip the secular and multiethnic fabric of the country. Their capacity to fish in the troubled waters of the north east as ISI has done in Kashmir, is an ominous warning. But the seeds of discord can only sprout where there is social inequity and political indifference. The government cannot depend merely on letters of protests to Pakistan or the meagrely funded counter-intelligence to meet the challenge posed by the ISI. It will be highly desirable to involve the people and build their resistance to exploitation. For that, it is necessary that genuine grievances of the venerable section of the society are removed and elements that have been alienated, brought back to the fold.