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Ahead of FATF Plenary, New Document Reveals Hizb Chief Syed Salahuddin's Direct Links to Pakistan's ISI

A file photo of Syed Salahuddin. (AFP)

A file photo of Syed Salahuddin. (AFP)

As Pakistan’s performance in implementation of the Financial Action Task Force Action Plan comes up for review next month, there is mounting evidence of Islamabad’s support to terrorism in general and active connivance in financing terrorism in particular.

As Pakistan’s performance in implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan comes up for review in October, there is mounting evidence of Islamabad’s continuing support to terrorism in general and active connivance in financing terrorism in particular. A new document accessed by security agencies confirms links of one of its proxies with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which is likely to further muddy the waters as its Grey Listing is taken up at the FATF plenary.

One of the important terrorist groups that have been used by Pakistan to foment terrorism in India is Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), headed by Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. He is also the head of the United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella organisation of terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Acting on the instructions of his Pakistan masters, Salahuddin has been instrumental in carrying out anti-India propaganda and terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. He has time and again accepted Pakistan’s role in funding terrorist and secessionist activities in Kashmir. In an interview in June 2012, Salahuddin had admitted that he was fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir, even threatening to take the war to Islamabad if it withdrew support to him.

Salahuddin had also announced that “the Mujahideen struggle serves as a defence line for Pakistan". The arrest of his sons Syed Shakeel Yousuf and Syed Shahid Yousuf and the recent killing of two of his close associates Riyaz Naikoo and Adil Ahmed by Indian security forces (on May 6) seemed to have rattled Salahuddin, making him increasingly desperate.

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Salahuddin supports terrorist activities on Indian soil through a number of proxy NGOs and charities supported by the ISI and other Pakistan-based entities. Among the most prominent of these is the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART).

The JKART is used by Salahuddin to find recruits by offering them financial incentives and promising to take care of their family members once they are “martyred". JKART’s head office is in Rawalpindi with branches in Islamabad, Muzaffarabad (PoJK), among others.

Indian security agencies recently obtained specific evidence of direct links between ISI and Salahuddin. A letter issued in the name of Mohammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin certified that he is a bonafide official of the Directorate of Intelligence and is working for the ISI. The letter even suggested that he has been “security cleared” and should not be “unnecessarily stopped”. The certificate is valid up to December 31, 2020. The letter issued Shah is important for the FATF to see before taking a decision.

It may be mentioned that it is not Salahuddin alone who enjoys VIP treatment from the Pakistani establishment. It is estimated that Pakistan shelters around 130 terrorists sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It has also been disclosed that Pakistan has provided access to these terror outfits to its banking system for carrying out nefarious terror activities in India and elsewhere. Recent chargesheets filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) bring out the linkages between terrorists and the Deep State in Pakistan. This is likely to be viewed seriously by the FATF as it reviews Pakistan’s Action Plan next month.