Syed Salahuddin is the head of the Kashmiri militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen(File Photo)
Syed Salahuddin is the head of the Kashmiri militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen(File Photo)

Modi Trump meet: US designates Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin as global terrorist

The announcement comes just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump for the first time.
By Yashwant Raj | Hindustan Times, Washington
UPDATED ON JUN 27, 2017 09:53 AM IST

The US designated Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist just hours ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with American President Donald Trump, and there was “strong focus” on counter-terrorism in the Indian leader’s engagements with Trump administration officials. (HIGHLIGHTS)

“Under Salahuddin’s tenure as senior HM (Hizbul Mujahideen) leader, HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people,” the US state department said.

US citizens are now prohibited from engaging in any transaction with Salahuddin, and all of the 71-year-old’s property and assets subject to the US jurisdiction will be blocked.

Who is Syed Salahuddin

Syed Salahuddin leads the Hizbul Mujahideen, one of two most active militant groups in Kashmir, and heads the militant collective United Jehad Council.

The 71-year-old has long been an opponent of India-Pakistan dialogue, and has advocated against a peaceful resolution to Kashmir.

He turned to militancy in the late 1980s and is widely viewed as allied to hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Salahuddin claimed responsibility for the attack in Pathankot on January 2, 2016 but it was met with a sceptical response among India’s security establishment, which blames the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The state department said in a notification that Salahuddin has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.

India welcomed the designation, saying it “vindicated” its long-standing position that cross-border terrorism perpetrated from outfits based in Pakistan was behind disturbances in Kashmir.

It also “underlines quite strongly the fact that both India and the United States face the same threat of terrorism”, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Gopal Bagley told reporters.

Bagley said there was a “strong focus” on counter-terrorism at Modi’s meetings with secretaries of state and defence Rex Tillerson and James Mattis ahead of the meeting with President Trump.

The US decision significantly came on a day Salahuddin issued a video message calling for a week-long agitation to mark the first death anniversary of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was killed by security forces in an encounter on July 8 last year.

Before taking to militancy, Salahuddin had contested assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1987. He had lost in the polls which were widely believed to be rigged.

Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organisations and individuals, and result in denial of access to the US financial system.

“Designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other nations,” the State Department said.

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