Hizbul Mujahideen chief: Pakistan allows terror group to run 'hundreds of training camps'
Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi [center], the military commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who has been implicated in the November 2008 terror assault on Mumbai, prays with Syed Salahuddin [right], the leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, just two weeks after the Mumbai attack. Associated Press photograph.
The leader of a terrorist alliance that operates in Kashmir and includes groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed said the Pakistani military allows it to operate freely and run hundreds of training camps.
Syed Salahuddin, the leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, admitted that the Pakistani military permits his fighters to move freely and run training camps in the region.
"Our mujahideen can come and go at their own will," Salahuddin told a local news agency, according to The Times of India. "There is no question that the army can stop us."
"And we have hundreds of training camps in the state where we recruit and train the mujahideen," Salahuddin continued. He did not say if the camps were located inside Pakistan or in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Salahuddin, whose real name is Mohammed Yusuf Shah, is also the chairman of the United Jihad Council, an alliance of 16 terrorist groups that are fighting in Jammu and Kashmir. The United Jihad Council is supported by the Pakistani military and its Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, two groups which are on the US and the United Nation's lists of terror organizations, are part of the United Jihad Council.
Salahuddin has close links to both terror groups. Less than two weeks after the November 2008 terror assault on Mumbai, Salahuddin was photographed praying with Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the military commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who has been implicated in the deadly attack in India.
For decades, Pakistan has sponsored jihadist groups to attack Indian security forces, the government, and civilians in an attempt to liberate the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Salahuddin routinely advocates violence against the Indian state, without incurring repercussions from the Pakistani state. In March 2010, Salahuddin said that "[t]he only way to liberate Kashmir is jihad," during a rally that was attended by top leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Pakistan continues to support terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2009, Indian intelligence estimated that Pakistan had expanded to 62 the number of terror camps that train terrorists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. This occurred during the year after the Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the terror assault in Mumbai that killed more than 165 people.