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This article appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Pakistan, Northwest
India insurgencies

by Madhu Gurung and Ramtanu Maitra

The major terrorist organizations inside Pakistan and in the northwestern areas of India, particularly in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, are direct offspring of the afghansi operation, or have been built, in part, in reaction to it, as in the case of the Mohajir Quam Movement (MQM) in Pakistan. The primary target of the afghansi in the region currently is the Indian-held sections of Kashmir, where the British are hoping to instigate an all-out war between India and Pakistan, or to create an independent Kashmir, carved out of both India and Pakistan, which would give British intelligence a direct foothold in this strategically sensitive area that sits at the nexus of China, India, Afghanistan, Russia, and Pakistan. The Sikh Khalistani movement, which seeks to create an independent Sikh State out of India's breadbasket state of Punjab, also operated under the protective shield of the Anglo-American-backed afghansi. As the following profiles show, these terror-organizations operate either as direct subsidiaries of the "afghansi networks," or their support networks are based out of Canada and Great Britain.


Name of group: Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA).

Headquarters: Mazaffarabad, in Azad Kashmir (Pakistani-held Kashmir). Offices also exist in Karachi, Lahore, Azad Kashmir, and Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Reportedly, it also has a Myanmar (Burma) and Tajikistan branch, and has been seen in Bosnia.

Founded: Founded in 1980, in Karachi, to fight in Afghanistan. At the time of its inception, it was called the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. In October 1993, it merged with the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami to form the HUA. The unification occurred reportedly through the efforts of patrons from Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Locations of operations, areas active: At the time it was founded, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen had a few dozen members from most Islamic countries. These members would fight in Afghanistan for six months, and then return to their countries to recruit. Now, this organization sends volunteers to the Indian part of Kashmir to fight. The group is most active in the southern Kashmir Valley and Doda district.

Major terrorist actions:

  • In December 1992, the HUA paralyzed the Indian administration of Jammu and Kashmir by attacking 25 police stations.

  • The HUA captured Lt. Col. Bhupinder Singh in January 1995 and killed him.

  • In May 1995, HUA militants conducted two attacks in Doda district, in which they stopped buses, picked out individuals, and shot them.

  • In February 1995, seventeen people died in an explosion set off by highly explosive RDX planted in a vehicle in Jammu.

Leaders' names and aliases: Maulana Saadatullah Khan, Maulana Farooq Kashmiri.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally:

  • Hizbul Mujahideen: A militant group in Kashmir with about 17,500 trained members. Hizbul, like Anjuman Sipa li-e-Sahaba, is a militant wing of the Jammat-e-Islami.

  • Al-Jehad, which later became the Janbaz Force.

  • Ahle Hadith, a militant Sunni group based in the province of Punjab in Pakistan.

  • Anjuman-e-Sipah-i-Sahaba (ASS) (see below).

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: The group seeks Kashmir's accession to Pakistan.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians of: The group is politically mentored by Jamaat-e-Islami, which, in turn, is trained, transported, and guided by Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), parts of which function as a "rogue operation" in Pakistan itself. Al-Faran, the shadowy militant group that is holding four foreign tourists as hostages at the time of this writing, has demanded release of three HUA militants from Indian jail.

Current number of cadres: About 4,500, mostly from outside of Kashmir.

Training: It was trained as a guerrilla organization. The training is given by the ISI, and the members have been trained with Indian-made heavy and light armaments and Russian-made assault rifles, light machine guns, etc.

Rockets have also been used by the group. The presence of mortars and heavy machine guns, and even small missiles, has also been reported with the group. The group has a 40-day training course.

Known funding: The HUA collects donations from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf and Islamic States, to purchase relief supplies which it reportedly distributes to Muslims in Tajikistan, Kashmir, and Myanmar. The details of HUA's military funding have been traced to Arab countries, and wealthy Pakistanis and Kashmiris.

The HUA, which trains the Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan hills in Myanmar, against the Myanmar regime, also collects funds from there, and collects funds from the Tajik rebels, whom the HUA reportedly trains.

Thumbnail historical profile: The HUA is yet another offshoot of the afghansi operation in Afghanistan. The group uses ruthless methods and retaliates viciously to any provocation. The HUA also supports Muslims in Kashmir, with humanitarian and military assistance. There are many Algerians, Lebanese, Syrians, and Egyptians among the active militants, and the HUA has district commanders from Kazakhstan and Bosnia.

Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front

Name of group: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Headquarters: Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Former headquarters include London, Washington, and Karachi. It has outlets in Brussels and New York.

Founded: In 1966. In its earlier manifestation, it was the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF).

Locations of operations, areas active: JKLF is active in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian part of Kashmir. It is particularly strong in the Kashmir Valley. JKLF is also active in London and Islamabad.

Major terrorist actions:

Kidnapping and killing of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in London in 1984.

Trademark terror signatures: Hijacking of airplanes and kidnapping were the JKLF terror signatures in the 1980s.

Leaders' names and aliases: Amanullah Khan, although reports indicate that he has recently been expelled; Yasin Malik, who recently has split the party; Javed Mir, who has joined the Yasin Mallik group; and Shabir Ahmed Shah.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: Kashmiri American Council, of Ghulam Nabi Fai in Washington; World Kashmiri Freedom Federation, of Ayyub Thukar in London; Muslims United Front in Jammu and Kashmir; Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: JKLF is based on an ethnic liberation ideology for an independent Kashmir. It has extensive support in Britain, among the Kashmiris residing there, and is, in fact, opposing the pro-Pakistan groups such as Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Ansar, the two most active terrorist subgroups operating in the Kashmir Valley in favor of the accession of Kashmir by Pakistan.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians of: JKLF is controlled by the British member of Parliament Lord Avebury in the House of Lords. Lord Avebury is chairman of the Friends of Kashmir organization, founded in 1991. Among other controllers are Max Madden and George Galloway, both Labour MPs in the House of Commons; the group also is patronized by U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Current number of cadres: More than 5,000.

Training: There are reports of JKLF cadres being trained by the Pakistani ISI, despite the group's claims on Pakistani territory. Pakistan has provided the JKLF room to function freely in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad twin city area.

Known arms suppliers/routes: JKLF collects funds mostly from abroad to procure arms from the Afghanis operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas and within Pakistan.

Known funding: Most of the JKLF funding comes from the U.K. There are reports of funds coming from Gulf countries, particularly from Saudi Arabia, which funds the affiliated Kashmir American Council and the World Kashmiri Freedom Federation. In the late 1980s, Didar Singh Baines of Yuba City, California, a prime funder of the World Sikh Organization, was also the major U.S. funder of the JKLF.

Thumbnail historical profile: The JKLF was founded in 1966 by the late Maqbool Butt in February 1966, in Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir). A sizable number of Kashmiri youths, mostly Mirpuris, joined the JKLF at home as well as in Europe. Amanullah Khan extended the party's activities to England, and started an English monthly, Voice of Kashmir, which called for a plebiscite in Kashmir on independence. The party split after the hanging of Maqbool Butt by the Indian government, following the 1984 killing of diplomat Mhatre. JKLF then became the main faction under the leadership of Amanullah Khan, who worked closely with Jagjit Singh Chauhan, leader of the World Sikh Organization and the main mouthpiece for Sikh terrorism internationally, as well as the Tamil Tigers and the British-based Naga groups. Despite the group's terrorist operations, Amanullah Khan often travelled to the United States on fundraising and congressional lobbying tours organized by Black, Manafort, and Stone, the George Bush-linked public relations agency that was active in "Iran-Contra" funding operations.

In mid-September 1995, the party went through another split. Amanullah Khan first expelled Yasin Malik, accusing him of compromising with the Indian security forces. A day later, Yasin Malik and Javed Mir, a plumber, expelled Amanullah Khan, and took over the party. Subsequently, the Malik and Mir duo has called for more militant actions against Indian security forces. It is unclear at this point which way the main faction of the party will move.

Babbar Khalsa

Name of group: Babbar Khalsa.

Headquarters: Lahore, Pakistan. Operates from London, U.K.; Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, Canada; and northern and southern California in the United States.

Founded: April 1978.

Locations of operations, areas active: Punjab provinces in India. Specifically around the mand (swampy) area near Kapurtala, close to the Pakistan border.

Major terrorist actions:

Babbar Khalsa was extremely active till 1992, when its top leader, Sukhdev Singh, was killed in Patiala, Punjab. Formed to oppose the best-known Sikh terrorist, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who had originally been covertly patronized by the Indian government, Babbar Khalsa killed indiscriminately between 1984 and 1990.

In 1992, the group became practically dormant and was virtually weeded out from Punjab. But, on Sept. 3, 1995, it murdered Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, an enemy of the terrorists in Punjab, with a suicide bomber, in Chandigarh.

Trademark terror signatures: Use of assault rifles.

Leaders' names and aliases: Kulwant Singh, Waddhwan Singh, Mahail Singh, Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tarri, Sukhdev Singh Billa.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: World Sikh Organization; Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar); National Council of Khalistan (U.K.); All India Khalistan Akali Dal (U.K.); Sikh Study Forum (U.K.); Republic of Khalistan-in-exile (U.K.); Khalistan Liberation Front; International Sikh Youth Foundation (ISYF), which has offices in the U.K., United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Singapore, Malaysia, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, and Dubai; and Babbar Khalsa International (U.K.).

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: Babbar Khalsa is a "religious" group with firm commitment to form an independent Sikh nation out of India's Punjab state.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians of: The U.K. Sikh Organization Coordination Committee was constituted in early 1992, and from its inception has been controlled by British intelligence. The Coordination Committee represents itself as an umbrella to all major foreign-based militant and terrorist Sikh organizations, including the Republic of Khalistan-in-exile, Babbar Khalsa International, the National Council of Khalistan, ISYF, Dal Khalsa International, Khalistan Liberation Movement (Canada), Khalistan Akali Dal, Sikh Study Forum, British Sikh Association, Human Rights International.

Training: During the early 1980s, Babbar Khalsa militants were trained in British Colombia, Canada, by former British Special Air Services (SAS) operative Johann Vanderhorst and others. More recently, Babbar Khalsa militants are being trained in Pakistan, along with the afghansis and Harkat-ul-Ansar, under the supervision of the Pakistani ISI. Most of the training takes place in the undefined border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Known drug connections/involvement in: Babbar Khalsa militants within India have little access to narcotics now. However, its members in Pakistan are reportedly involved in drug trafficking.

Known arms suppliers/routes: Throughout the 1980s, Babbar Khalsa and other Sikh terrorist organizations received arms shipped from Canada via Pakistan, and also from California. Some of the figures involved in arms shipments to the Sikhs were simultaneously involved in sanctioned arms shipments to the Afghan mujahideen, from the same locations. Currently, Sikh terrorists buy arms from the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan. This is now a profiled arms bazaar. Sikhs were regular visitors to Hasanabdal, close to Attock and about 40 kilometers from Islamabad. They have also been seen buying arms in Peshawar and the mujahideen training camps around Akora Khattak, 70 km from Peshawar on the Nowshera-Rawalpindi Road.

Known funding: Funding of Babbar Khalsa and the other Sikh terrorist groups comes from the U.K. Sikh Organization Coordination Committee. This umbrella group is involved in funding such prominent pro-Khalistan publications as Voice of Khalistan, an English-languange journal from Norway; World Sikh News, English-language, from the United States; The Sikh Spectrum, from Canada, in English; Khalistan Times International, from the U.K., in English. There are also reports of Babbar Khalsa receiving large sums of money from Hongkong. Throughout the 1980s, the group and its allies also received funds from the wealthy Sikh community in California and Canada.

Thumbnail historical profile: Set up in 1978, Babbar Khalsa, because of its strong religious bent, became the brain of many Sikh terrorist subgroups formed in the 1980s. Among these allies and affiliates are the National Council of Khalistan, International Sikh Youth Federation, Dal Khalsa International, Khalistan Liberation Movement (Canada), Khalistan Akali Dal, and the Khalistan Liberation Front, whose leader, Dayu Singh Sandhu, was arrested in August 1995 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. These groups were formed not only because of open conflicts between leaders contesting their respective share of drugs and money, but also as a division of labor, in order to operate in specific areas.

The creation of a separate de-Hinduized Sikh identity had been pushed by the British since the 1800s. After partition, the Sikhs became a main electoral force in six districts in Punjab. By 1973, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had placed Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale into the Sikh party, Akali Dal, to lead its most militant faction. Modern Sikh terrorism grew out of that supposedly shrewd maneuver. In 1980, the growing Sikh terrorist movement began to engage in murders of opponents, with Bhindranwale emerging as a cult terrorist leader, after he murdered the editor of the Punjab Kesari newspaper chain that year. Presidential rule was declared after Sikh terrorists massacred Hindu bus passengers in 1983. In June 1984, Operation Bluestar wiped out Bhindranwale's followers holed up at the Golden Temple, the main shrine of the Sikh religion, providing the pretext for the murder of Mrs. Gandhi that October.

From its inception, the Sikh terrorist movement was controlled by a group of former Sikh officers in the Indian Army who had been active in the 1971 Bangladesh war directly under Gen. J.F.R. Jacob. The Sikh officers who oversaw the Mukhti Bahini insurgent operation in East Pakistan, later established the Sikh terrorist movement. These included Gen. J.S. Bhullar, later leader of the World Sikh Organization; Gen. Shabeg Singh; Brig. Iqbal Singh; and Brig. Parminder Singh. Gen. Shabeg Singh, who ran the Mukhti Bahini insurgents, was the military adviser and de facto controller of Bhindranwale, and oversaw the military fortification of the Golden Temple. He died when the Indian Army stormed the site. Brig. Iqbal Singh, now in Chicago, reportedly trained the terrorists in sabotage and related skills. Brig. Parminder Singh, now in Nova Scotia, Canada, reportedly oversaw arms shipments to the terrorists.

Babbar Khalsa's first leader, Talwinder Singh Parmar, had been an activist in the Naxalite movement. Beant Singh, the Sikh terrorist who assassinated Indira Gandhi in 1984, had also been a Naxalite. Throughout the 1980s, Babbar Khalsa was directed out of Canada, where Parmar then resided, despite repeated requests for his extradition back to India on charges of murder. However, the splintering of the terrorist groups in Punjab in the mid-1980s caused a serious problem to the Khalistanis, and it was evident that some of the smaller groups were thoroughly infiltrated by the Punjab police. Around this time, Babbar Khalsa took control of and got involved in terrorism in a big way. By 1988-89, the group was cited as the largest Sikh terrorist grouping.

Mohajir Quam Movement

Name of group: Mohajir Quam Movement (MQM).

Headquarters: London, England; Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. Also active in other major Sindh cities such as Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas.

Founded: Formed in 1979 as the All Pakistan Muslim Student's Organization (APMSO), MQM came to prominence in 1986, following a pro-democracy movement in Sindh that turned violent.

Locations of operations, areas active: Chiefly Karachi, but also in other major Sindh towns such as Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas Khairpur.

Major terrorist actions:

  • Armed attack on Pushtoon-majority Sohrab Goth Colony during terrorist campaign on Dec. 12-17, 1986 in Karachi.

  • Killings in Karachi on March 15, 1989.

  • Killings in Hyderabad on May 27, 1990.

Since 1993, clashes among the MQM, Pakistani troops, other political groupings (some with strong terrorist leanings), and religious factions in Karachi have become a daily affair.

Trademark terror signatures: Use of AK-47 assault rifles, indiscriminate shooting at pedestrians in marketplaces by masked gunmen, and assassination of opponents inside cars stopped at traffic lights are the signatures of MQM terrorism. MQM is also known for kidnapping opponents.

Leaders' names and aliases: The MQM chief is Altaf Hussain, who has been based in London for the last four years. Altaf Hussain likes to be called Quaid-e-Tehrik. Azeem Tariq, killed in 1993, allegedly in an internal purge. Imram Farooq, Farooq Sattar, Saleem Shahzad, Ajmal Dehlvi.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: World Federation of Democratic Youth, which has consultative status at the United Nations.

U.K. connections: MQM leader Altaf Hussein resides in London, under the protection of the British government, which has refused Pakistani government requests for his extradition to face trial for murder.

Nationally, MQM does not have political connections, at this point. In the mid-1980s, the MQM was aligned with the Punjabis against Sindhi secessionists, who were also internationally headquartered in London.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: MQM is a grouping of Mohajirs, or immigrants, who came from India in the wake of the partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947, and the formation of the new Muslim-majority country of Pakistan. Mohajirs, who speak Urdu and were mostly from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar provinces of India, demand a separate linguistic ethnic identity like the Punjabis, Baluchis, Sindhis, and Pushtoons, the four major ethnic groups in Pakistan. In addition, the Mohajirs want to be the political power in Sindh at the expense of the Sindhis and the Pakistan People's Party. The MQM also increased its militancy during the Afghan war, when their base, Karachi, was inundated with Afghans, who used the city as a major entrepĂ´t for its drugs-for-guns operations. There are indications that the MQM is in the process of setting up Mohajirstan.

Current number of cadres: Close to 50,000.

Known drug connections/involvement in: MQM is not known for dealing with narcotics. Narcotics is handled by the Pushtoon Punjabi network. However, Karachi is the bastion of MQM, and the city is the main export point of Afghan and Pakistan drugs. MQM takes the money from the known drug handlers and provides protection.

Known arms suppliers/routes: Huge amount of arms were made available in Pakistan, including Karachi, following the launching of the Afghan jihad in early 1980s.


Name of group: Anjuman-e-Sipah-i-Sahaba (ASS).

Founded: Exact founding date is not available, but the group became active in terrorism in 1986.

Locations of operations, areas active: All over Punjab, including Lahore and Rawalpindi; also active in Karachi and Gilgit, a major town in Azad Kashmir. Britain is a recruiting ground; in early 1995, leader Zia Rehman Farooqi went on a month-long tour of Britain for money and recruits, claiming afterward that he had gained 40,000 recruits at rallies, etc., the London Sunday Telegraph reported.

Major terrorist actions:

  • May 22-23, 1988: Large-scale killing of Shias in Gilgit, Azad Kashmir.

  • Killed two Iranian diplomats in 1990 using assault rifles.

  • Assassination of Mohammad ul-Naqvi, member of the supreme council of Tehrik-i-Jafriae Pakistan, a premier Shia organization, in Lahore on March 7, 1995.

  • Planted a lethal bomb in a Shiite mosque in east Karachi on Feb. 25, 1995, which killed 20 Shia worshippers.

Trademark terror signatures: Use of assault rifles to assassinate individuals; setting up ambushes; planting of bombs at religious gatherings and crowded places.

Leader's name and aliases: Yousaf Mujahid.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally:

  • Jamiat-e-Islami, the orthodox Sunni political grouping with widely known links to the Saudi Arabian Wahabi movement.

  • Ahle Hadith, a militant Sunni group based in the province of Punjab in Pakistan.

  • Harkat-ul-Ansar.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: Operates at two levels. In Punjab and Azad Kashmir, Sipah is an anti-Shia grouping with limited hostility toward the Barelvi group of Sunnis. In Sindh, it has joined the ethnic groupings of Sindhis and Punjabis against the MQM. Even in Sindh, Sipah terrorizes the Shias. ASS demands that Pakistan be declared a Sunni State, and that all other Muslim sects like Shia be declared non-Muslim entities.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians of: Jamiat-e-Islami, which in essence, is controlled from Saudi Arabia.

ISI, the intelligence grouping within the Pakistan military which reports directly to the President, who is not an elected official. ISI became increasingly prominent during the Afghan resistance war against the Soviet Union.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, of the North West Frontier Province.

Current number of cadres: More than 10,000.

Training: Trained and armed by the Pakistani ISI, which is heavily influenced by the Jamaat supporters recruited into the agency by the late President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq.

Known funding: Pakistani ISI and Saudi individuals.

Thumbnail historical profile: Created during the mid-1980s by President Zia ul-Haq, to bring to the fore the more orthodox Muslim groups in Pakistan. ASS was also created to provide mercenaries to the Afghan jihad, and to confront the minority Shias in Pakistan. However, the group turned terrorist soon after establishing domination over a section of the Sunnis.

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