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

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

All throughout the US, 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 laborious to advance a radical, Islamist-inspired agenda on the highest ranges in the US, utilizing Kashmir as its trigger. One Texas-based group, Associates of Kashmir, stands on the forefront of one in all these efforts.

On 5 August, 2020, Associates of Kashmir and its head — a distinguished 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 US Congress’s Pakistan Caucus, the president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and the Pakistani ambassador to the US 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 not too long ago established by Imran Khan’s authorities to bemoan India’s “seizure” of Kashmir in 2019.

Throughout 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 subjects similar to COVID and unrelated occasions in Lebanon.

The Pakistani regime’s write-up of the Congress members and their remarks, nonetheless, was considerably completely 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” via Associates of Kashmir. He repeatedly in contrast the state of affairs of the Kashmiris to that of the Jews beneath 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 workplaces 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 Difficulty, 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. Throughout the webinar, Ghazala Habib thanked the Pakistani authorities for opening the “consulate doorways for us 24/7,” describing it as “our first dwelling.” In actual fact, Habib can also be on shut phrases with President Masood Khan, who has repeatedly posted photos and feedback about his conferences along with her, some at his personal home.

Habib doesn’t simply symbolize the pursuits of the Pakistani regime; she can also be endorsed by distinguished 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 US.

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 official 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 similar to 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’ primarily based in Pakistan,” and acquired “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 US “from many senators, Congressmen and influential individuals from the enterprise group.”

Habib was removed from the one terror-tied speaker to share a platform with a number of members of the US Congress. Star speaker Riffat Wani is a Kashmiri activist beneath 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 in all “those that encourage others to withstand occupation.” Burhan was a commander of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, who efficiently persuaded younger Kashmiris to “be a part of the holy conflict.”

In actual fact, Riffat Wani often seems to honor “mujahideen” killed in violent clashes with Indian regulation enforcement, similar to 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 Dedication 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 overtly 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 little one abuse and tried rape expenses.

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 distinguished determine in Pakistan as nicely, the place, in a tv interview given in 2013, he proffered anti-Semitic claims {that a} earlier conviction in opposition to 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 distinguished 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 courtroom 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. In actual fact, it’s simply the most recent initiative of an brisk Pakistani regime affect operation, primarily based in Texas, which is working alongside Islamists from Europe and South Asia to affect American legislators and media, and to control American Muslims’ grassroots energy.

This community’s efforts are yielding outcomes. In a latest 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 retailers, have been, the embassy experiences, 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

For the reason that go to of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s to Houston final 12 months, 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 severe effort by American Islamist organizations to organise enormous protests, with the seen backing of the Pakistani state.

As India At present’s Ankit Kumar famous on the time, Ghazala Habib’s efforts to arrange the protests have been assisted by distinguished leaders of Imran Khan’s ruling political celebration, 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.” In actual fact, Burki can also be the president of PTI’s USA department, which was listed as a further “associate” organisation of the protest organizers.

Different organisers of the protests included officers of the Islamic Society of Larger 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 cover its involvement within the Houston protests, saying that it had “helped coordinate what could possibly be the biggest protest in American historical past in opposition to a international 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 deal with the Houston protests, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, has been named by the Indian authorities as a chosen terrorist due to his ties to violence in Punjab.

Most significantly, the Pakistani regime and its proxies used the protests in opposition to 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.

Just some 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, moderately flaccidly, to “disassociate Pakistan from the protest by declaring 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 in opposition to Modi’s go to (which, as India At present famous, made use of luxurious buses to shuttle in protestors from distant), Burki’s IHF splurged on a full-page commercial within the New York Occasions, which, in line 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 international agent of Pakistan, beneath 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 buddies 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 US.

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 reality, Consultant Banks famous Ali had been a “great 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. Information from the Federal Election Fee reveals that PAKPAC itself has contributed 1000’s of {dollars} to those politicians’ coffers, with tens of 1000’s extra coming from rich Pakistani businessmen and docs 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 US 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, similar to 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 embody PAKPAC board members similar to Gohar Salam, in addition to distinguished businessmen tied to the regime, similar to Democratic Occasion donor Tahir Javed. Fairly just a few 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 in all 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 also be a detailed associate of Jamaat-e-Islami’s largest franchise in the US, the Islamic Circle of North America. Because the Center East Discussion board beforehand uncovered, in 2017, one in all ICNA’s main branches, a charity named Serving to Hand for Aid and Improvement (HHRD), overtly 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 in opposition to Modi included extra activists tied to APPNA, PAKPAC and the Pakistani regime, similar to senior ICNA and HHRD official Ilyas Choudry. In the meantime, donors and fundraisers for Consultant Banks and Consultant Jackson Lee, similar to 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 tackle – 6671 Southwest Freeway – an workplace block subsequent to a South Asian ethnic enclave in West Houston popularly referred to as the Mahatma Gandhi District. Not solely is IHF registered to this tackle; but in addition teams similar to Pakistan American Volunteers, a company via which Associates of Kashmir fundraises and of which Ghazala Habib is called a member. Officers of the aforementioned Islamic Society of Larger Houston (ISGH) are intently concerned with Pakistan American Volunteers; whereas a subsidiary group of the ISGH, the Islamic Schooling Institute of Texas, can also be registered on the tackle.

As well as, donors to the Indiana congressman and people linked to APPNA – similar to Houston activist Haroon Sheikh, the president of the Pakistan Affiliation of Larger Houston and board member of Pakistani American Volunteers – are additionally board members of but extra registered charities primarily based 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 tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} given to teams similar to APPNA, PAKPAC and the ISGH, via dozens of personal American Islamic and Pakistani grant-making foundations, in addition to worker giving schemes at giant American companies.

Reassessing Pakistan

All throughout the US, 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 in the present day more and more look to Pakistan to steer the Muslim world – from Islamabad’s protests and boycotts in opposition to Macron’s France, to Imran Khan’s resolution final 12 months to deal with 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 instantly 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 undertaking of the Center East Discussion board

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Updated: June 4, 2021 — 11:00 am

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