February 2004 News

Jihad takes on new 'benign' look

25 February 2004
The Daily Times
Amir Rana

LAHORE: Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC), an alliance of Kashmiri jihadi organizations has been restructured, with six smaller alliances within it representing various groups that will no longer use the words jihad, lashkar, jaish or mujahideen with their names so that they appear more political than militant. 'These semi-alliances are the Kashmir Resistance Forum (KRF) 1, 2 and 3 and Kashmir Freedom Forum (KFF) 1 and 2, while only Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) is allowed to use its original name', sources in the MJC told Daily Times.'We have been told that these names are damaging Pakistan's image abroad as well as the Kashmiri freedom movement,' a jihadi leader said. Asked why HM was allowed to use its original name, he replied 'HM also holds the chairmanship of the jihad alliance and quarters abroad consider it representative of the Kashmiri freedom movement alone'. Sources said this decision was taken in October 2003, implemented in January 2004. KRF 1 represents the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT), Birgade 313 (a Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami faction lead by Commander Illyas Kashmiri), Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Al-Bader Mujahideen, while KRF 2 is an alliance of Al-Jihad, Al-Fateh, Hizb Ullah and Muslim Janbaz Force (MJF). KRF 3 consists of Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (Maulana Muzaffar group), Jamiat-ul Mujahideen (JM) and Jamiat-ul-Ansar (JA), while KFF 1 is an alliance of Jaish Muhammad (JM) and Al-Umer Mujahideen and KFF 2 includes Islamic Front, Jamaat-ul-Furqan (JF), Tehrik-e-Jihad (TJ), Al-Barq and Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen (TM). This new 'adjustment' is called 'Muwakhaat' (an Arabic word meaning agreement on the basis of brotherhood) and sources said this would also reduce the jihadi groups' internal differences. 'These organizations' new identities will improve their image, making them look like political groups', sources said. The MJC earlier consisted of 15 organizations; HM, TM, JM, Al-Barq, MJF, Hizb Ullah, Al-Jihad, Al-Fateh, HJI (Muzaffar group), IF, LI, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Al-Umer, JA, TJ, and all of these were Kashmir-based. Five Pakistan-based organizations LT, JM, Brigade 313, Al-Bader Mujahideen and JF were not the part of MJC but they have been included in the new structure. 'The MJC constitution barred Pakistan-based organization from the alliance but circumstances have changed. We need unity and no one can deny their role in jihad', a jihadi leader said. Sources also claimed Syed Salahudin will remain the chairman of MJC for five more years, being acceptable to all concerned. Sources said the Pakistan-based groups had asked to join the MJC, and claimed this wasn't the first time that the MJC was being restructured. In January 2002, a formula for a merger was adopted but small and Pakistan-based organizations refused to accept it. They wanted to maintain their independent identity and most jihadi leaders were not prepared to be subordinate to small Kashmiri organizations', sources claimed, adding, 'this structure is an extension of 2002's formula and now leaders of these organisations will not share responsibilities with others'. Sources said these smaller alliances would launch operations against Indian forces in Kashmir, but after permission from MJC leaders.


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