LEADING PAKISTANI ISLAMIST ORGANIZING POPULAR MOVEMENT AGAINST SOUTH WAZIRISTAN OPERATIONS
As the Pakistani Army pushes deeper into South Waziristan, a vocal political challenge to Islamabad’s cooperation in the War on Terrorism has emerged in the form of Syed Munawar Hasan, the Amir (leader) of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)—the leading party in the religious coalition that rules Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)—and a member of the ruling coalition in Balochistan Province.
Syed Munawar was a student of JI founder Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979), one of the leading theorists of political Islam. A member of JI-Pakistan since 1967 and the party’s Secretary General since 1993, Syed Munawar has begun a very public campaign to rally support among Pakistan’s conservative religious community against the U.S. role in the region and Islamabad’s offensive against Taliban extremists in South Waziristan. He is also calling for a diplomatic campaign against India for its alleged role in terrorist activities within Pakistan.
In recent well-publicized rallies and Friday sermons, Syed Munawar has issued a series of provocative statements and demands. According to the JI’s Amir:
•Pakistan should sever all ties with India and begin a diplomatic campaign against the country at the United Nations in response to the discovery of Indian arms in South Waziristan and Balochistan. The government has failed to do this because India is backed by the United States. Indian Hindus are organizing atrocities against India’s Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist communities (Jasarat [Karachi], November 15; The News [Islamabad], November 14). JI is organizing “black days” of protest against India in mid-December.
•Muslim Kashmiris have been waging a struggle for freedom from India for 62 years. India has responded by sending a 700,000 man “army of savages” (Jasarat [Karachi], November 15). Though JI claims it is dedicated to a peaceful and democratic process, the exception is Kashmir, in which case the movement actively supports armed groups fighting Indian rule.
•State terrorism is the real form of terrorism due to the massive firepower available to modern states. Millions of people have died in the “unprecedented” destruction caused by state terrorism (Jasarat [Karachi], November 15)
•The United States is seeking to create a “mini-Pentagon” in Islamabad by expanding its embassy there. Islamabad is “under the occupation of Blackwater [renamed Xe Services LLC in February]” and Washington is pushing for an expansion of the counter-insurgency operations to North Waziristan. The ongoing drone attacks on insurgent leaders are an assault on the sovereignty of Pakistan but come as part of a campaign to change the borders of Pakistan (The News [Islamabad], November 19). Syed Munawar called on Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to write a letter to President Barack Obama demanding a halt to the drone attacks (The Nation [Lahore], November 20).
•The October attack on the Army’s GHQ in Rawalpindi was not the work of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (as the movement claimed in an October 12 TTP statement), but was instead the work of the United States and India. “I am not ready to believe that the Taliban are so powerful that they would dare attack the GHQ” (Dawn [Karachi], October 12; The News [Islamabad], November 19).He identified “the secret terrorist force, Blackwater” and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW – India’s external intelligence agency) as the perpetrators (The Nation, November 20; Jasarat, November 12).
SURRENDERED COMMANDER SAYS LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY SPONSORED BY KHARTOUM
Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles Arop has given an interview to a Kampala daily after having been sent to the Ugandan capital following his surrender to Ugandan troops operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (New Vision [Kampala], November 23). Arop is best known for directing a massacre of 143 Congolese civilians in the village of Faradje on Christmas Day, 2008 (see Terrorism Monitor, November 13). He is now engaged in helping Ugandan forces convince other LRA fighters to surrender. During the interview, he showed reporters wounds from nine bullets, three of which are still inside his body.
Following rumors circulating in October that the LRA had crossed into south Darfur, Arop said it was the intention of LRA leader Joseph Kony to move along the Central African Republic border to Chad and then into Darfur to meet officers of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), long reputed to be the LRA’s sponsors. Kony “told me he was going to meet Fadil, the SAF officer who coordinates LRA activities. He wants the Arabs to give him logistical support and a safe haven” (see Terrorism Monitor, October 23). Arop says Kony urged all LRA units to make their way to Darfur and report to the first “Arab” military post they came across.
Despite a disastrous start to last year’s Operation Lightning Thunder, a joint operation of the militaries of Uganda, the DRC and Southern Sudan, continuous pressure by the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) has eliminated many LRA fighters and compelled others to turn themselves in after suffering from exhaustion and hunger. Arop estimates only half of the force of 500 LRA fighters that existed last December are still in the field. “Kony is desperate. Things are really hard. We were constantly on the move. Sometimes we would not rest for a week. The UPDF was pursuing us everywhere."
Arop suggests it was only a delay by the UPDF in following the LRA into the Central African Republic (CAR) that allowed the LRA a chance to regroup and abduct more people for use as fighters, laborers or sex slaves. Like most LRA fighters, Arop was himself an abductee, taken from his home in Gulu at age 16. Though the LRA began as a Christian fundamentalist/Acholi nationalist movement, there are few Acholis still left in the LRA ranks, with most fighters representing a hodgepodge of individuals abducted from various tribes in Uganda, South Sudan, the DRC and the CAR.
Arop describes LRA leader Joseph Kony as a man obsessed with his own survival. Since Operation Lightning Thunder began, Kony has stopped communicating by phone, sending messages only by couriers on foot or by sending his aides up to 20 kilometers away before they are allowed to use their phones. Arop confirmed earlier reports that Kony never takes part in battles. “Whenever attacked, he runs away and leaves his fighters to fight back. I have never seen him fight.”
The LRA commander elaborated on last year’s horrific Christmas Day massacre at Faradje, describing the attack as retaliation ordered by Kony for the participation of Congolese troops in Operation Lightning Thunder. Arop claims his own role was carried out under duress. “Kony gave 30 of his bodyguards to join my group. There was no way I could not execute the mission. They had a phone and were constantly reporting to him. If I had refused, I would have been killed… It was painful, but you have to do it. I want to ask the relatives of those we killed to forgive me. Whatever we did, we did it under orders.”
According to Arop, the LRA received most of its weapons and military supplies from the SAF. Large caches of arms were concealed in the river banks and hills of South Sudan. “There are still a lot of arms caches the UPDF has not yet unearthed.” Other weapons and supplies were recently seized from UN troops in the DRC and game rangers in Garamba National Park, where the LRA took refuge after the start of Operation Lightning Thunder.
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