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US, UN blacklist Kashmiri

In concerted action, both the United States government and the United Nations have put terrorist mastermind Ilyas Kashmiri on their terrorism-related blacklists.

world Updated: Aug 07, 2010 22:49 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

In concerted action, both the United States government and the United Nations have put terrorist mastermind Ilyas Kashmiri on their terrorism-related blacklists.

HuJI a 'foreign terrorist organisation'

The United States and the United Nations have designated Pakistan's Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI) a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation."
They also slapped sanctions on HuJI commander Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, who was close to 26/11 plotter David Headley, for carrying out terror in India and Pakistan.

While the US Department of State declared him a specially designated global terrorist, the United Nations placed him on the Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list.

At the same time, the terrorist outfit he once led, the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami or HuJI, was also declared a foreign terrorist organisation by the US and put on the UN list.

Kashmiri is of special interest to India since he is believed to be one of the handlers of David Coleman Headley, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative who was one of the main figures behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Intelligence analysts believe that Kashmiri also played a significant role in planning those attacks.

Kashmiri, now considered the commander of the Lashkar al Zil or the Shadow Army of the Al Qaeda had started his path in terrorism by targeting Indian armed forces in Kashmir.

Kashmiri's links with Headley were already suspected but those suspicions were cemented when US Federal prosecutors brought a superseding indictment against Headley in a Chicago court in January this year.

Kashmiri was named a co-conspirator and the indictment made it clear that Headley had personally met Kashmiri in Pakistan's Waziristan region, had been in communication with them and had been taken aback at the news, later proved false, that Kashmiri had been killed in a US drone attack.

Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, said, after these actions were announced, that "the joint State and Treasury Department actions taken today, in conjunction with the United Nation's listing, illustrates the international community's resolve to counter the threat posed by HUJI and its leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri."

"He is responsible for creating a cadre of militants to act on behalf of HUJI and Al Qaeda," said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the US Treasury Department.

Other than Headley, Kashmiri has handled Omar Saeed Sheikh, who killed Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and possibly even Khalil al-Balawi, the Jordanian double-agent who assassinated seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan. Kashmiri, in his mid-40s, is originally from Mirpur in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir and, according to multiple reports, was part of Pakistan's elite Special Service Group.

The inclusion of the parent Pakistan-based HuJI comes two years after its Bangladeshi branch was declared a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the State Department.

Focused mainly in Jammu and Kashmir, HuJI is the outfit that carried out an attack at a mosque in Hyderabad in May 2007 which killed 16 persons and another in March that year in Varanasi that claimed 25 lives. Assets freeze, travel bans and other actions are implemented once individuals or entities are thus blacklisted.