On July 27, UK newspaper The Guardian ran a story of Kashmiri militant Zakir Musa becoming head of ‘Al-Qaeda linked cell’ – Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. The creation of the group was announced by Global Islamic Media Front, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated information network, a report in the guardian said.
A day after this news, United Jihad Council’s supreme commander and chief of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, in a video message said that ISIS and Al-Qaeda has no role in Kashmir. In a veiled reference to Zakir, who parted ways from Hizb, he said that some of “our friends play in the hands of our enemy and are harming the unity of the nation and its leadership”.
Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa was born in July 1994 in Noorpora village of Tral in Pulwama district. Son of an engineer, Zakir belongs to an affluent family. His brother is an orthopaedic and sister a banker. Then a student of BTech in Chandigarh, he had come home for vacations with his friends from college and he decided to stay back. Meanwhile, he got in contact with militants and days later, he left home to join Burhan Wani and got associated with militant ranks in 2013. Zakir replaced Burhan as the commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen following the killing of later in an encounter in Kokernag township of Anantnag district on 8th July, 2016.
In April this year Zakir released a video message in which he criticized Pakistan for being “un-Islamic”. “We have to do jihad with Pakistan as well,” he had said. Musa said the armed insurgency—which has claimed the lives of thousands since 1989—was aimed at the creation of an “Islamic Kashmir”, unlike the stated position of militants whose aim is to separate Kashmir from India. Musa said, “Our intention should be that, we have to achieve ‘Azadi’ (freedom) to establish Islamic rule and not for secular state. If we are fighting for secular state, then my blood won’t be spilled for that purpose”. Musa even called the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference “hypocrites, infidels, followers of evil” and threatened to chop off their heads “if they create hurdles in the path of making Kashmir an Islamic State”. He had said their heads will be hanged in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, as Hurriyat leaders, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderates Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had denounced terror groups such as the ISIS and Al-Qaeda, saying they had no role in Kashmir. The developments came as a shock to resistance leadership and general public.
Zakir Musa in May 2017 parted ways with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen following his announcement through a video message that he is “fighting” for implementation of Sharia in Kashmir. “If Hizbul Mujahideen doesn’t represent me, then I also don’t represent them. From now onwards, I have no association with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen”, he stated. He denounced “nationalistic struggle” as forbidden in Islam and even “threatened” Hurriyat leadership.
Hurriyat leadership in Kashmir have always disassociated themselves from radical Islamist groups, mainly to maintain legitimacy as a political struggle that carried Kashmiris’ support and have always insisted that the struggle was indigenous.
Musa’s new approach has not been able to garner much support among the ranks of militants and Hurriyat leadership as not only in the current geo-political situation, Kashmiri leadership have always distanced themselves from radicalized hardliners and groups such the ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Emphasizing that Kashmir freedom movement is indigenous, resistance leaders said that Kashmiri’s have no global ambition and the global groups are non-existent in Kashmir.
Recently HM commander Riyaz Naikoo appeared in the funeral of slain militant Shariq Ahmad at Takuna and addressed the gathering in which he gave a short and furious speech indicating a thorough rejection of Al-Qaeda’s recent entry into Valley under the leadership of his former colleague Zakir Musa. He cautioned the people to not “fall into the trap”, of the new discourse being worked up by Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, the affiliate of Al-Qaeda, as it was a bid to bring notoriety to Kashmir struggle. “Linking our struggle with Al-Qaeda and ISIS is a strategy to defame our struggle,” he said.
Zakir in his fresh audio message circulated as Al-Hurr tagline paid rich tributes to militant commander Abu Dujana and his associate Arif Lelhari and said that they are the “first martyrs of jihad movement” he is leading. He also announced his affiliation with Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the India chapter of Al-Qaeda and termed both the slain as premier movers in its making. Musa in a 2 minute purported audio message that has gone viral on social media says: “In the making of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, they played a key role and became first martyrs of this Jihad movement”. In the audio clip he says that “When Dujana joined us, the so called bosses of Jihad in Pakistan placed a number of hurdles for him”. He termed the slain duo as “Mardan-e-Hurr”, fighting for one God.
After the Gulab Bagh encounter in Tral that claimed the lives of three militants and a civilian, HM spokesperson came with the statement in which he asserted that the slain militants were on way to rejoin HM after disassociating from Zakir Musa’s group. He further stated that they will soon expose the elements who divide Kashmiris and their leadership.
It is crystal clear that Zakir Musa has laid the foundation of Al-Qaeda in Kashmir. Now, the question that arises is why Zakir joined Al-Qaeda despite the strong opposition of all at the helm of affairs.
Brief History of Al-Qaeda and ISIS
CIA, the intelligence agency of US, gave birth to Osama Bin Laden and breastfed his organization during the 1980’s. Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda was unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies. Mr. Cook explained that Al Qaeda, which literally means an abbreviation of “the database” in Arabic, was originally the computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists, who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.
America’s relationship with Al Qaeda has always been a love-hate affair. Depending on whether a particular Al Qaeda group in a given region furthers American interests or not, the U.S. State Department either funds or aggressively targets that group. Even as American foreign policy makers claim to oppose extremism, they knowingly foment it as a weapon of foreign policy.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used to have a different name: Al Qaeda in Iraq. After 2010 the group rebranded and refocused its efforts on Syria. America’s Middle East policy revolves around oil and Israel. The invasion of Iraq has partially satisfied Washington’s thirst for oil, but ongoing air strikes in Syria and economic sanctions on Iran have everything to do with Israel. The goal is to deprive Israel’s neighboring enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial Syrian and Iranian support. ISIS is not merely an instrument of terror used by America to topple the Syrian government; it is also used to keep Muslim Ummah divided so as to serve the interests of America, Israel and their allies. They have killed more Muslims than anyone else in this world. America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for U.S. military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance.
Why do people get romanced with these radical groups and what’s the way out ?
Unfortunately, a large chunk of Muslims in the world are getting trapped under the plot of America, Israel and their allies. They get romanticized with the wave created by vested interests who don’t even know the ABC of Islam. They don’t follow the true instructions of Allah Almighty, Prophet Mohammad (SAW), Ahlulbayt (A.S.), Companions and Quran. They only follow those fellows who show them wrong picture of Islam under the deceptive flag of Islam like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram. Growing number of people are finding solace in these radical thoughts. They seem to be in a hurry to end their suffering and new ideologies offer them a quick fix solution. They think there is nothing to lose. It’s better to die with the hope of going to paradise than live a long life of wretchedness on this earth.
Jihad which is the holy word of Islam has been misinterpreted. Jihad means safety for all humanity. Islam doesn’t allow to impose our ideology forcibly on others. Islam directs us to safeguard and protect people associated with different faiths. When we can do Jihad being alive so why should we die for it. Why should we die or kill others to impose the Islamic system. Islam is such a beautiful and perfect religion that we don’t need force to impose it. It will find its place once we change our inner souls as per the Islamic values.
Kashmir is a political issue which needs a political settlement and it’s the main reason people like Arundhati Roy, Gautam Navlakha support it despite stiff resistance from their country. Jammu & Kashmir as a whole is a abode to Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and so on. It belongs to everyone. So everyone will have a say for final and sustainable solution to Kashmir imbroglio.
Finally, a word of advice to Zakir Musa
You are too young to comprehend the different facets of Kashmir dispute. There are enlightened thinkers, intelligentsia, very religious and highly educated intellectuals out there who are working tirelessly for Kashmir cause. Let them develop an opinion on Kashmir which will be acceptable to all. Your Al-Qaeda association will only bring misfortune to Kashmir. It will give justification to world community to brand Kashmir indigenous struggle as terrorism. If you really care about Kashmir then sever your ties with Al-Qaeda. The early you will do it, the better it will turn for Kashmir. You are a well known figure now. You can make a huge difference. You can impress upon India, Pakistan and leadership of Kashmir to bring a long lasting solution to Kashmir issue. You can persuade them that we have lost enough youth due to this conflict and its time to achieve a political solution to Kashmir tangle. We must realize and accept this fact that we can never achieve any solution to Kashmir problem due to violence. It has only brought death and destruction to Kashmir. We have seen enough bloodshed. No more, please!