Kashmir faces deep risk as Pakistan presents tacit assist to Houston community to unfold Islamic fanaticism, separatism in Valley

Kashmir faces deep risk as Pakistan presents tacit assist to Houston community to unfold Islamic fanaticism, separatism in Valley

All throughout the USA, the Pakistani regime and its cheerleaders exploit the query of Kashmir to advance Islamist pursuits and assault India, in state and federal legislatures, newsrooms and city halls

The Pakistani regime, making use of lobbyists, Congressmen, terror supporters, and well-organised grassroots networks of American Pakistani Muslims, is working onerous to advance a radical, Islamist-inspired agenda on the highest ranges in the USA, utilizing Kashmir as its trigger. One Texas-based group, Associates of Kashmir, stands on the forefront of one among these efforts.

On 5 August, 2020, Associates of Kashmir and its head — a outstanding pro-Pakistani activist, author and self-described poet named Ghazala Habib — organised an internet occasion, in collaboration with the Pakistani embassy and its consulate in Houston, to debate the “Disaster in Kashmir.”

In an indication of the Pakistani regime’s rising affect, audio system included the 2 co-chairs of the USA Congress’s Pakistan Caucus, the president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and the Pakistani ambassador to the USA and the Houston consul-general. Different advertised audio system included Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, together with Texas state legislators Ron Reynolds and Terry Meza.

Sharing a display with such illustrious figures, nonetheless, have been open supporters of terror.

Extremists and Congressmen

The webinar was held to mark Youm-e-Istehsal, or ‘Day of Exploitation,’ an annual occasion lately established by Imran Khan’s authorities to bemoan India’s “seizure” of Kashmir in 2019.

Kashmir faces deep threat as Pakistan offers tacit support to Houston network to spread Islamic fanaticism separatism in Valley

Through the webinar, broadcast on social media and American Pakistani tv channel TVOne USA, Congressional Caucus co-chairs Representatives Jim Banks and Sheila Jackson Lee supplied the dignified remarks anticipated of seasoned statesmen.

Banks, who has in any other case been an outspoken critic of South Asian Islamist actions, defined his intention to “draw consideration to what’s happening in Kashmir” and “present American management.” Jackson Lee expressed broad assist for “safety” and “human rights.” She fleetingly praised Imran Khan’s management however rapidly switched to matters resembling COVID and unrelated occasions in Lebanon.

The Pakistani regime’s write-up of the Congress members and their remarks, nonetheless, was considerably totally different, together with false claims that Consultant Banks was “co-chair” of Associates of Kashmir. And certainly, the remainder of the webinar was strikingly extra militant.

AJK president Khan saluted Ghazala Habib for her “excellent contribution” by way of Associates of Kashmir. He repeatedly in contrast the scenario of the Kashmiris to that of the Jews below the Nazis, calling their plight a “genocide,” and asking why there had been no equal of the Nuremberg trials for Indian authorities officers, whom he likened to “Hitler and his cohort.”

With places of work additionally in Islamabad and Karachi, Associates of Kashmir describes itself as a US-based “Worldwide Non Political Group which goals to Impart Consciousness Worldwide concerning Kashmir Concern, Kashmir [sic] standing, and Kashmiris [sic] genocide by the hands of Indian Forces in occupied Kashmir.”

Unsurprisingly, such actions are the product of shut collaboration with the Pakistani regime. Through the webinar, Ghazala Habib thanked the Pakistani authorities for opening the “consulate doorways for us 24/7,” describing it as “our first residence.” Actually, Habib can be on shut phrases with President Masood Khan, who has repeatedly posted photos and feedback about his conferences together with her, some at his personal home.

Habib doesn’t simply symbolize the pursuits of the Pakistani regime; she can be endorsed by outstanding Kashmiri terror activists. In 2020, leaders of the Kashmiri Hurriyat political alliance, together with Syed Ali Gilani and Asiya Andrabi, appointed Ghazala Habib as their consultant in the USA.

Gilani is an notorious Kashmiri separatist who used to function the “Head of Jihad” for the now-banned department of the Islamist motion Jamaat-e-Islami in Jammu & Kashmir. Andrabi, in the meantime, based the banned outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Nation), which, The Economist notes, “helps terrorists” and advocates jihad. Andrabi claims to have embraced al-Qaeda officers, telling them that if “you belong to Sheikh Osama’s al-Qaeda then you’re very welcome as a result of he was a authentic chief of Jihad.”

Andrabi has lengthy been concerned with Associates of Kashmir. In February 2017, the Texas group organized a convention at which the pro-Al Qaeda Andrabi spoke remotely, together with terror activists resembling Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah, each of whom have been arrested by Indian regulation enforcement in 2019.

It emerged that Malik had apparently “visited the [designated terrorist organization] Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) camps in Muree in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and addressed the LeT cadres there.” As for Shah, he was reportedly “in contact with the worldwide terrorist Hafeez Sayeed, chief of banned outfit ‘Jamat-ud-Dawa’ based mostly in Pakistan,” and obtained “cash for finishing up separatist actions in J&Ok.”

In January 2021, Associates of Kashmir and Habib organized a protest in assist of Malik, Shah, and Andrabi, by which she referred to the violent extremists as “heroes” and the “Kashmiri management.”

Kashmir faces deep threat as Pakistan offers tacit support to Houston network to spread Islamic fanaticism separatism in Valley

Regardless of her connections to terrorists, Habib claims in an interview to “have already got ethical assist” in the USA “from many senators, Congressmen and influential folks from the enterprise group.”

Habib was removed from the one terror-tied speaker to share a platform with a number of members of the USA Congress. Star speaker Riffat Wani is a Kashmiri activist below investigation by Jammu and Kashmir Police. Wani usually expresses assist for terrorists on social media. She has glowingly described the late, notorious Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani as one among “those that encourage others to withstand occupation.” Burhan was a commander of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, who efficiently persuaded younger Kashmiris to “be part of the holy battle.”

Actually, Riffat Wani ceaselessly seems to honor “mujahideen” killed in violent clashes with Indian regulation enforcement, resembling praising the “martyrdom” of the notorious terrorist operative Riyaz Naikoo.

Different advertised audio system on the webinar included a spokesperson of terror-linked Khalistani group Sikhs for Justice; in addition to Raja Najabat Hussain and Abdul Hameed Lone, each of whom are officers of the JK Self Willpower Motion Worldwide, which safety companies declare to be a entrance for Pakistan’s ISI. One other senior Pakistani politician listed as a presenter was Mushahid Hussain Syed, a former regime minister who has brazenly praised the actions of the murderous terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

British-Pakistani activist and politician Lord Nazir Ahmed was additionally featured in promoting for the occasion, though was not introduced out to talk at any level. Maybe his presence was thought-about unhelpful following his anticipated eviction from Britain’s Home of Lords, all whereas he awaited trial on youngster abuse and tried rape fees.

Lord Ahmed, who has a protracted historical past of involvement with Islamist causes in the UK, has been concerned with Associates of Kashmir for a number of years. He’s a outstanding determine in Pakistan as properly, the place, in a tv interview given in 2013, he proffered anti-Semitic claims {that a} earlier conviction towards him for “harmful driving” in Britain was solely handed down due to strain positioned on the courts by a secret cabal of Jews who additionally “personal newspapers and TV channels.”

In March 2020, Lord Ahmed was listed as a speaker at one other Associates of Kashmir occasion, alongside half a dozen outstanding Pakistani politicians and Kashmiri leaders. They have been as a consequence of be joined by Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Kashmiri-American activist convicted in an American court docket in 2011 of serving as an agent of Pakistan’s ISI.

As these examples present, the August webinar, that includes alleged rapists, terror supporters, anti-Semites, ISI-connected activists and US Congress members was not a one-off instance. Actually, it’s simply the newest initiative of an lively Pakistani regime affect operation, based mostly in Texas, which is working alongside Islamists from Europe and South Asia to affect American legislators and media, and to govern American Muslims’ grassroots energy.

This community’s efforts are yielding outcomes. In a current doc printed by the Pakistani Embassy, officers introduced a putative endorsement of the regime’s place by 20 Senators and Congressmembers. These elected officers, together with assume tanks, human rights organizations and media shops, have been, the embassy reviews, efficiently inspired to debate “Indian oppression” in Kashmir – a “burden on humanity’s conscience.”

From the place did this community seem? And the way is it succeeding?

Islamabad’s agenda

Because the go to of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s to Houston final yr, this main American metropolis has been a key hub for Islamabad’s political agenda. Modi’s look at an Indian-American convention in September 2019 prompted a critical effort by American Islamist organizations to organise enormous protests, with the seen backing of the Pakistani state.

As India Right this moment’s Ankit Kumar famous on the time, Ghazala Habib’s efforts to arrange the protests have been assisted by outstanding leaders of Imran Khan’s ruling political get together, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). On the time, native Texas media interviewed one Sajjad Burki, describing him as “one of many organizers of Associates of Kashmir.” Actually, Burki can be the president of PTI’s USA department, which was listed as a further “companion” organisation of the protest organizers.

Different organisers of the protests included officers of the Islamic Society of Higher Houston, a number one Pakistani-American Muslim establishment, in addition to donors to the election campaigns of Congressman Banks and Congresswoman Jackson Lee. Different teams supporting and sponsoring the protests included the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the chief US proxy for the violent South Asian Islamist motion Jamaat-e-Islami. On the time, ICNA didn’t conceal its involvement within the Houston protests, asserting that it had “helped coordinate what could possibly be the biggest protest in American historical past towards a overseas politician.”

Associates of Kashmir even enlisted the assist of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a militant Khalistani organisation banned in India. The SFJ official invited to handle the Houston protests, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, has been named by the Indian authorities as a delegated terrorist due to his ties to violence in Punjab.

Most significantly, the Pakistani regime and its proxies used the protests towards Modi not simply to galvanise Pakistani-American Islamists into motion, but in addition to construct a completely new infrastructure to assault India and advance Pakistan’s pursuits.

Only a few weeks earlier than the Modi protests in 2019, Sajjad Burki – PTI USA President and Associates of Kashmir “organizer” – established the Worldwide Humanitarian Basis (IHF). And just some days earlier than the protests, Burki and his PTI and IHF colleague Atif Iqbal Khan met with Pakistan’s Imran Khan, who, at that assembly, appointed Iqbal Khan because the “Advisor to Authorities for Abroad Pakistanis.” On the protests, regardless of his and the opposite organizers’ shut, irrefutable ties to the regime, Burki tried, quite flaccidly, to “disassociate Pakistan from the protest by mentioning that there was no show of Pakistani flag.”

Though its solely public exercise revolved across the Modi protest, Burki’s IHF wielded sudden, monumental monetary energy. However its assist for the protests towards Modi’s go to (which, as India Right this moment famous, made use of luxurious buses to shuttle in protestors from far-off), Burki’s IHF splurged on a full-page commercial within the New York Occasions, which, in accordance with most estimates, can have price not less than $150,000. As well as, IHF paid for billboards throughout the Houston space.

Additionally just some days after the protests, the Division of Justice was despatched a registration doc notifying the federal authorities that IHF had engaged Fenton Communications, a number one D.C. lobbyist agency, as a declared overseas agent of Pakistan, below a $50,000 contract for a mere 11 days of labor. Subsequent press releases, distributed round Washington D.C., proudly introduced that “Fenton Spreads Phrase of India’s Rights Violations in Kashmir.” The contract was evidently renewed: eight months later, the identical Fenton Communications reportedly claimed credit score for arranging an interview with Pakistan’s Imran Khan on MSNBC’s flagship “Morning Joe” information program.

Shopping for mates in excessive locations

Hiring a number one communications agency was one vital step for the Houston community. The opposite was procuring highly effective contacts. The Pakistani-American Political Committee, or PAKPAC, is the chief lobbying organisation and election financier for Pakistani pursuits in the USA.

Because the Pakistani embassy famous in its personal write-up, PAKPAC official Dr Rao Kamran Ali was intently concerned with the August 5 webinar. And through that webinar, in actual fact, Consultant Banks famous Ali had been a “super useful resource” who “helped [him and his staff] perceive these crucial geopolitical points.”

PAKPAC and its officers are registered financiers of the election campaigns for each webinar audio system Consultant Jim Banks and Consultant Sheila Jackson Lee, who, collectively, co-chair the Congressional Pakistan Caucus. Knowledge from the Federal Election Fee reveals that PAKPAC itself has contributed hundreds of {dollars} to those politicians’ coffers, with tens of hundreds extra coming from rich Pakistani businessmen and medical doctors additionally tied to PAKPAC and different Pakistani regime-linked entities.

In response to those moneys, whereas Jackson Lee has, reportedly, effusively praised Imran Khan’s “visionary management,” Banks has taken a extra diplomatic, circumspect strategy, main regime-friendly Pakistani media fairly intentionally to misreport Banks’ work on the query of Kashmir, falsely claiming that the congressman’s requires the USA to “diffuse tensions” included a requirement that the U.S. “spotlight Indian atrocities.”

Regardless of Banks’ neutrality, his management of the Caucus has included working together with his donors and constituents, resembling PAKPAC members Farrukh Adhami and Abdali Jan, to host a go to to Congress in July 2019 by Pakistan’s Imran Khan.

Different energetic donors embrace PAKPAC board members resembling Gohar Salam, in addition to outstanding businessmen tied to the regime, resembling Democratic Social gathering donor Tahir Javed. Fairly a number of donors to each Jackson Lee and Banks, together with Adhami and Jan, are senior members of each PAKPAC and the Affiliation of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA), which describes PAKPAC as one among its “subsidiaries.”

These are usually not merely diaspora group organisations, however key establishments of the Pakistani regime’s affect efforts. Prime Minister Imran Khan has even reportedly described APPNA as Pakistan’s “strongest” lobbying group.

APPNA can be an in depth companion of Jamaat-e-Islami’s largest franchise in the USA, the Islamic Circle of North America. Because the Center East Discussion board beforehand uncovered, in 2017, one among ICNA’s main branches, a charity named Serving to Hand for Aid and Improvement (HHRD), brazenly partnered with the designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
From a Drab Workplace Block

All these nationwide and worldwide hyperlinks hint again in different methods to the Houston Associates of Kashmir community and its Islamist companions. In 2009, for instance, Houston activist and IHF head Sajjad Burki spoke at an APPNA panel alongside a senior Jamaat-e-Islami consultant from Pakistan.

And together with Associates of Kashmir officers, different Houston-based organizers and supporters of the 2019 protest towards Modi included extra activists tied to APPNA, PAKPAC and the Pakistani regime, resembling senior ICNA and HHRD official Ilyas Choudry. In the meantime, donors and fundraisers for Consultant Banks and Consultant Jackson Lee, resembling Tahir Bhatti and M.J. Khan, labored intently with Associates of Kashmir head Ghazala Habib within the early planning levels of the protests.

From businessmen intently linked to Imran Khan and rich nationwide lobbying organisations, to native mosques and Islamist charitable proxies tied to Kashmiri terror – every little thing connects.

Certainly, a considerable portion of the Houston community revolves round a single handle – 6671 Southwest Freeway – an workplace block subsequent to a South Asian ethnic enclave in West Houston popularly generally known as the Mahatma Gandhi District. Not solely is IHF registered to this handle; but in addition teams resembling Pakistan American Volunteers, a company by way of which Associates of Kashmir fundraises and of which Ghazala Habib is called a member. Officers of the aforementioned Islamic Society of Higher Houston (ISGH) are intently concerned with Pakistan American Volunteers; whereas a subsidiary group of the ISGH, the Islamic Training Institute of Texas, can be registered on the handle.

As well as, donors to the Indiana congressman and people linked to APPNA – resembling Houston activist Haroon Sheikh, the president of the Pakistan Affiliation of Higher Houston and board member of Pakistani American Volunteers – are additionally board members of but extra registered charities based mostly out of the exact same workplace constructing.

This can be a complicated community, however one with vital affect.

Kashmir faces deep threat as Pakistan offers tacit support to Houston network to spread Islamic fanaticism separatism in Valley

The revenue sources for a lot of the above organizations stay opaque. Tax returns filed with the Inland Income Service and gathered by the Center East Discussion board, nonetheless, do reveal many lots of of hundreds of {dollars} given to teams resembling APPNA, PAKPAC and the ISGH, by way of dozens of personal American Islamic and Pakistani grant-making foundations, in addition to worker giving schemes at giant American firms.

Reassessing Pakistan

All throughout the USA, the Pakistani regime and its cheerleaders exploit the query of Kashmir to advance Islamist pursuits and assault India, in state and federal legislatures, newsrooms and city halls. These affect operations depend on dozens of main American Islamist organisations for help, together with their highly effective networks of financiers, activists, lobbyists and clerics.

Now that the ostensible occupation of Kashmir and the alleged evils of the Indian authorities have turn out to be rallying cries for Islamists across the globe, Western Islamists as we speak more and more look to Pakistan to steer the Muslim world – from Islamabad’s protests and boycotts towards Macron’s France, to Imran Khan’s resolution final yr to handle the biggest convention within the American Muslim calendar.

Associates of Kashmir, with its monetary and ideological affect over serving American politicians, and its hyperlinks to rich lobbying organizations and well-organized grassroots activists, is only one instance of a Pakistani proxy working to co-opt American Islamism, whereas apparently taking orders immediately from Islamabad.

If that is Pakistan’s community in only one Texas metropolis, what are the regime and its Islamist companions doing throughout the remainder of America?

Sam Westrop and Martha Lee are writers for Islamist Watch, a challenge of the Center East Discussion board

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