Terrorism Current Affairs

US designates Hizbul Mujahideen as Foreign Terrorist Organisation

The United States has named Pakistan based Kashmiri terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen as a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO)”. The designation slaps a series of US sanctions on the outfit.

With this, Hizb Mujahideen joins the other terrorist outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on the US list of FTO designated in 2001. Moreover, two other anti-India groups, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (2016) and Indian Mujahideen (2011) are also in the list.

What does it means?

Such designations expose and isolate terrorist groups and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system. It also assists the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments. It blocks all of Hizbul Mujahideen’s property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction. It also prohibits US citizens from engaging in any transactions with the group. It purpose is to deny Hizbul Mujahideen the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks.

Background

The designation comes against the backdrop of upsurge in the terror activities of the militant group in Kashmir in recent months. Earlier in June 2017, US had adding the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin to its list of designated global terrorists.

Comment

The US decision to designate Hizbul Mujahideen as FTO marks a severe blow to Pakistan which has been projecting the militant group as a voice of Kashmiri people. It also validates India’s position on cross-border terrorism as the reason behind the Kashmir issue and the support terrorist organisations getting from Pakistan. It will also help India to put the squeeze on Pakistan, whose top political and military leaders are portraying Hizb cadres as “freedom fighters” at a time of heightened terrorist activity in Kashmir.

About Hizbul Mujahideen

Hizbul Mujahideen (meaning “Party of Holy Warriors”) is one of the largest and oldest terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. It was started in 1989 by Muhammad Ahsan Dar as Kashmiri separatist group and holds pro-Pakistan ideology. Its current commander is a Sayeed Salahudeen who is based in Rawalpindi and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It has been already designated a terrorist organisation by India and European Union.

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India witnessed third highest terror attacks in 2016: US

According to the Country Report on Terrorism released by the US State Department, India witnessed third highest number of terrorist attacks in 2016, more than Pakistan.

The six countries that faced highest number of terrorist attacks in 2016 are Iraq (2,965 terrorist attacks), Afghanistan (1,340), India (927), Pakistan (734), Philippines (482), Nigeria (466).

Key Highlights from report

Several countries that have routinely experienced large numbers of terrorist attacks in recent years observed considerable decreases in total attacks in 2016, compared to 2015. In 2015, Iraq (2418 attacks) and Afghanistan (1708) were ranked first and second respectively, while Pakistan took the third spot (1009 attacks).

The number of terrorist attacks in India in 2016 has increased by 16% and total number of deaths also has increased by 17%. More than half of the terrorist attacks in India in 2016 took place in four states: Jammu and Kashmir (19%), Chhattisgarh (18%), Manipur (12%) and Jharkhand (10%).

This geographic pattern of attacks was relatively stable compared to 2015, with the exception of J&K which experienced an increase of 93% in attacks in 2016. Though India ranked 3rd, the lethality of these terrorists attacks were relatively low compared to other countries that have experienced great deal of terror violence.

On average, terror attacks in India led to 0.4 deaths per attack in 2016, compared to 2.4 deaths per attack worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of attacks at 73% were non-lethal in India in 2016. The majority of attacks in India either involved explosions/bombings at 47% or armed assaults at 18%.

In addition, kidnappings at 15% of all attacks were particularly prevalent in India, compared to 10% worldwide, while facility/infrastructure attacks were at 12% of all attacks, compared to 6% worldwide. The deadliest attack in India in 2016 took place in July 2016, when the Communist Party of India – Maoist (left wing extremists) detonated explosives and opened fire on CRPF personnel in Bihar, killing 16 people including six assailants.

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