The US Department of State added Syed Salahuddin, leader of the Pakistan-supported Hizbul Mujahideen jihadist group, to its list of Specially Designated Global terrorists. State specifically designated Salahuddin for his activities in Kashmir, however he is part of the jihadist alliance which wages war throughout Afghanistan and India.
Salahuddin, who is also known as Mohammad Yusuf Shah, is the emir of Hizbul Mujahideen, a jihadist group with close ties to other Pakistani terror groups that focuses on fighting in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, but also supports al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. Hizbul Mujahideen receives support from Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), which allows the group to operate openly inside Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Salahuddin is also the chairman of the United Jihad Council, which is supported by the Pakistani military and the ISI, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, two groups that are on the US and United Nations lists of terror organizations, are part of the United Jihad Council.
Salahuddin has close ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its charitable front, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Less than two weeks after the Nov. 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.
State designated Salahuddin because he “vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Kashmir valley ‘into a graveyard for Indian forces.'” Additionally, under Salahuddin’s leadership, Hizbul Mujahideen “claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.”
State’s designation focused on Salahuddin’s activities, but skirted his associations with the Pakistani establishment and regional and global jihadist groups. Salahuddin is known to maintain an office in the Baila Noor Shah area of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Pakistani government refuses to act against Salahuddin and other terrorist leaders, despite their direct involvement in terrorist activities.
In May 2011, Salahuddin admitted that the Pakistani military allows him to run “hundreds of training camps in the state where we recruit and train the mujahideen.”
He is also known to raise money for jihadist groups operating in South Asia. In July 2012, Salahuddin spoke at a fundraising and recruiting drive for jihad in Afghanistan and India, and said Pakistan is the victim of a US and Israeli conspiracy. At the conference, which was held in Rawalpindi, he stated that his fighters were waging jihad against the US.
“Pakistan is the target of the US-Israeli nexus. Our fighters are defending Pakistan at a time when its geographical boundaries, its security and Islamic identity are at risk,” Salahuddin said. “We are fighting in Kashmir. It doesn’t matter to us if we are labelled terrorists. We are proud to be called terrorists for fighting the US and its allies in Afghanistan.”
The month prior, Salahuddin threatened the Pakistani state if it withdrew its support for jihadist groups. At the time, Pakistan was pressuring jihdist groups to pare back activities in the Indian state of Kashmir and Jammu. Salahuddin also attended funeral of Engineer Ahsan Aziz, a jihadist killed in US drone strike in North Waziristan in Aug. 2012. According to Aziz’s father, his son was based in Waziristan for a decade and fought in Afghanistan.
“We are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan,” he said, according to The Times of India.