BY AARTI TIKOO SINGH
New Delhi/Washington, March 31 (IANS) Two Islamic charities, linked to the banned Islamist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, ran a persistent disinformation campaign against India leading to hearings and resolutions on Kashmir in the US Congress last year.
As per an IANS investigation, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its self-described “sister organisation” Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD) were at the forefront of running campaigns in the US against New Delhi after the government revoked special status of Jammu and Kashmir and brought the state at par with union territories of India, last year on August 5.
Documentary evidence accessed by IANS reveals that both ICNA and its sister organisation HHRD are affiliated to Jamaat-e-Islami, the pan-Islamic fundamentalist organisation which India banned last year after a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber killed over 40 paramilitary soldiers in a terror attack in February 2019.
The Jamaat was proscribed for five years under anti-terror law on the grounds that it was in cahoots with terror outfits in Kashmir to strengthen the Pakistan-sponsored violent separatist militancy in the valley.
After Article 370 (which granted special status to J&K) was nullified, the US-based ICNA and HHRD along with other Islamic groups ran ‘Stand With Kashmir’ a red dot logo campaign, using the same handle on Twitter. Under the banner ‘Stand With Kashmir’, they together led a protest in front of the consulate General of India in New York four days and a similar protest in Los Angeles.
Two more protest rallies were held in August last year, one in Sacramento, California and another one outside the Indian embassy in Washington. Both were sponsored by the ICNA among others like Pakistan American Association of Sacramento, Pakistan American Sports and Cultural Organisation, Turkish American National Steering Committee and Islamic Society.
ICNA also published ‘Kashmiri Crisis: A Complete Guide’, handouts and a sample of Congressional letter in its campaign in alignment with Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.
In September, ICNA hosted a benefit dinner for its activists on Kashmir at Islamic Center of Conejo Valley, to raise funds. A few days later, the organisation along with CAIR and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) announced to hold a protest rally in the last week of September.
As per media reports, President of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) Sardar Masood Khan soon after, urged “Muslim across the world to stand united” and “relieve Muslim Ummah of agonies” and asked ICNA and United States Coalition of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) to engage “lawmakers in encouraging hearings on Kashmir in the US House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and initiate debates on Kashmir in the Congress.”
Apart from organising another fundraising dinner for Kashmir, the twin organisations in November, helped install a billboard on Kashmir in Michigan and asked Muslims across the US to send a letter to Congress Representative Eliot Engel in support of a resolution sponsored by Pramila Jayapal on Kashmir.
The result of the sustained campaign against India was that not only did the US House Foreign Affairs Committee held at least two hearings on Kashmir, but Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib, introduced and unsuccessfully attempted to pass two resolutions against India over Kashmir in the US Congress.
None of the HHRD-ICNA protests against India mentioned that Pakistan sponsored terror outfits especially, its own parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami’s armed wing Hizbul which has killed thousands of Muslims in the last three decades in Kashmir.
Founded by Maulana Maududi in 1941 during the British rule in India, Jamaat became one of the major religious organisations in Pakistan, which also participated in the genocide of Bangladeshi Muslims in 1971. With the help of Pakistani Army and ISI, Jamaat set up its militant wing, Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit in Kashmir in 1989. The US government has designated the head of Jamaat-affiliated Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin based in Pakistan, a global terrorist.
“Despite Jamaat’s violent background, its fronts in the US — ICNA and HHRD — enjoy partnerships with the government, politicians and journalists, and funding from prominent charitable foundations. The two Islamic charities have been actively lobbying with the US Congress with the express purpose of stopping any investigation into their terror finance ties to Kashmiri terror groups,” a source in the US Congress said.
An expert on Muslim reform movements and author of several books, US-based Asra Nomani told IANS that for over five decades, since the 1960s, Jamaat-e-Islami has exported its disturbing ideology of political Islam from its base in South Asia to the US and beyond, through organisations, including ICNA.
“Since the 9/11 attack, Jamaat and its fronts have penetrated even deeper into the political lobbying industry of the United States, working in concert with their fundamentalist Muslim allies in the West, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”
“Together, these organisations make up Islamism Inc., or political Islam, and their goal is very simple: to deny the reality of extremist ideologies within Islam, promote Islam in governance and cast themselves as victims.”
In recent years, Nomani said, they have won growing influence in the Democratic Party in the US, exploiting identity politics, political correctness and virtue signaling, to win congressional hearings, legislative resolutions and political pandering to their interests.
“They have their sights on India, running conferences, workshops, social media hashtag campaigns and political drives to demonise India, its secular governance, its political leadership and — quite frankly — its Hindu majority.
The best inoculation to their impact is to understand clearly that this network’s goal is Muslim supremacy. For India, the answer is not to respond with another form of religious supremacy but rather the supremacy of the reality of India as a beautiful, secular nation,” she said.
BY AARTI TIKOO SINGH