Mast Gul in new outfit Al-Omar, returning to Valley to fight ‘jihad’
3 July 2000
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Pakistani mercenary Mast Gul, whose enigmatic escape from Charar-e-Sharif town during May 1995 fighting between Islamic militants and Indian troops had caused ripples in official circles, is returning to the Valley to what he calls “fight jihad” again. He has joined Al-Omar Mujahideen, a Kashmiri militant outfit, which came to the fore early this year when its jailed leader, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, who along with Maulana Azhar Masood and another militant, was swapped at Kandahar to secure the release of passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814. The outfit, Gul says in a statement sent through facsimile to Srinagar-based media persons on Monday, is named after the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Omar-bin Khatab, “who wanted to establish Islamic khilafat (caliphate) in entire world.” Caliph Omar (634-44) actually added Syria, Palestine and Egypt to the Muslim empire. “My own resolve is to liberate Kashmir and seek its accession to Pakistan as a prelude to make it a part of Islamic caliphate,” the statement added. Gul has vowed to return to Kashmir soon “to fight jihad against the Indian imperialism along side Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.” He charged that Kashmiri Muslims “are being butchered today and I think it is our fundamental duty to go there and help them out.” The statement added that Gul has joined the outfit along with 150 associates. During his earlier stint in the Valley, he was associated with formidable pro-Pakistan militant group Hizbul-Mujahideen. Soon after his escape from besieged Charar-e-Sharif town, he resurfaced in Pakistan where he led several anti-Indian demonstrations and was detained a couple of times by the Pakistani authorities. Gul’s announcement to return to “jihad” in Kashmir came two days after a similar one was made by Master Ahsun Dar, the Kashmiri rebel leader who as chief commander of the Hezb had given sleepless nights to security forces before his arrest in 1993. He has re-launched Ansar-ul-Islam, the outfit he had merged with the Hezb. After his release from jail in September, Dar had kept a low profile, creating the impression here that as yet another “exhausted” rebel leader he would permanently seek refuge in politics as many others have done.