January 2002 News

Lashkar got £2 mn from British Kashmiris

14 January 2002
The Times of India

LONDON: British Muslims are believed to have donated more than 2 million pounds last year to one of the Kashmiri terrorist groups accused of carrying out the December 13 attack on the Indian Parliament. Sources inside Lashkar-e-Taiba have revealed that the British are their second-largest foreign benefactors, after Kashmiris living in West Asia.''We receive millions of pounds from Britain,'' said a senior Lashkar member. ''British Kashmiris are very patriotic. Some is for charity but the rest is used for attacks against military targets.''All the main Kashmiri militant groups have fundraising networks in Britain, often based in mosques. Leading figures from Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another militant organisation, have visited Britain to raise funds.According to an Indian intelligence report, Mohammad Ibrahim Azhar, the brother of Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder and head of Jaish, has visited Britain at least once. Jaish confirmed that Azhar had travelled to Britain but would not disclose how much money he had raised. He is accused of taking part in the hijacking of an Indian airliner in 1999 and is among 20 Pakistan-based extremists wanted by the Indian government on charges of terrorism. During the hijack the Indian government gave in to the demands of the terrorists and freed his brother.''Jaish, like other militant outfits,'' says the Indian intelligence report, ''has become a significant recruiter and fundraiser in the UK for the sustenance of militancy in Kashmir, particularly from the Birmingham area (in central England), which has become the focal point for the recruitment of Muslim youths to various jehadi organisations.''Last year Indian intelligence gave its British counterparts a confidential document detailing the fundraising activities of militant Kashmiri groups in Britain and a list of alleged donors.Among them was Nazhir Ahmed, from east London, who according to the Indians sent up to 15,000 pounds a month abroad.This weekend Ahmed, who is facing deportation, said he had raised small amounts of money, but strictly for welfare work. ''I had been collecting money for widows and orphans ójust pennies really,'' he said. ''Sometimes people gave me money at religious festivals. I sent it to my brother in Pakistan, who gave it to the poor.'' He denied he had raised money for fighters, saying he was opposed to violence. There are 600,000 Kashmiris in Britain, the majority from areas of Kashmir that are under Pakistani control. Many retain strong links with their homeland, often keeping property there and visiting relatives regularly. Some Kashmiris born in Britain have taken an active role in the military struggle. Last year Mohammed Bilal, from Birmingham, blew himself up in a car-bomb attack on the Indian army headquarters in Srinagar. Bilal is said to have acted on the orders of Lashkar.In an important test case last October, the Home Office won the right to deport Shafiqur Rehman, the imam of a mosque in Oldham, who was accused of raising funds and recruiting young British Muslims for Lashkar. Rehman, a Pakistani national who had settled in Britain, is still awaiting deportation.

 

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