WASHINGTON: The US in conjunction with the United Nations has designated al-Qaeda-linked HuJI as a foreign terrorist organisation and slapped sanctions on its commander Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, who was close to 26/11 plotter David Headley, for carrying
out terror activities in India and Pakistan.
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) and Kashmiri have been involved in a series of terrorist activities in India, including the attack on the Hyderabad mosque in 2007 that killed 16 people and the March 2007 Varanasi terrorist strike that left at least 25 people dead and another 100 injured.
Kashmiri's name also cropped in 26/11 and he was in close contact with Headley, who has confessed to his involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designated HuJI as a foreign terrorist organisation, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner slapped sanctions on Kashmiri. Simultaneously, the UN also announced a similar sanction against HuJI and Kashmiri at its headquarters in New York.
"The joint State and Treasury Department actions taken today, in conjunction with the United Nation's listing, illustrates the international community's resolve to counter the threat posed by HuJI and its leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri," Mr Daniel Benjamin, State Department's Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, said Friday evening.
"Linkages between HuJI and al-Qaeda are clear, and today's designations convey the operational relationship between these organisations," Mr Benjamin said.
These actions were taken in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice.
"Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri is at the core of HuJI's efforts to plan and carry out attacks against US forces and our allies. He is responsible for creating a cadre of militants to act on behalf of HuJI and al-Qaeda," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
In acting together, the United States and United Nations are taking "another important step" in combating the threat that al-Qaeda and its affiliated organisations pose to innocent people around the world, Levey said in a statement.
The "action against Kashmiri was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which freezes any assets Kashmiri has under US jurisdiction and prohibits US persons from engaging in any transactions with him. The United Nations also took similar actions against HuJI and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri," the US Department of Treasury said in a statement.
As HuJI commander, Kashmiri provides support to al-Qaeda operations, including logistical backing for al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks.
Kashmiri has supported attacks against Pakistani government personnel and facilities, including the 2009 attack against the offices of the ISI and the Pakistani police in Lahore that killed 23 people and left hundreds injured.
He directed the October 2008 assassination of former commander of the Pakistani Special Services Group, General Amir Faisal Alvi, in retaliation for his role in the fight against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
He also led an al-Qaeda-linked cell in plotting the assassination of a Pakistani Army general – a plan that was eventually abandoned due to al-Qaeda's strategic considerations.
Since 2001, Kashmiri has led HuJI training camps that specialised in terrorist operations, military tactics, and cross-border operations, including a militant training centre in Miram Shah, North Waziristan in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
In January 2009, a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois indicted Kashmiri for terrorism-related offences in connection with a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark.
HuJI's area of operation extends throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations focused primarily in India and Pakistan.
HuJI's relationship with al-Qaeda flourished after the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan.
"It has provided fighters for the Taliban in Afghanistan and training of HuJI members in al-Qaeda training camps. HuJI has carried out a number of terrorist attacks. In March 2006, HuJI was responsible for the suicide bombing of the US Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed four people and injured 48 others," the Treasury said.