Special to WorldTribune.com
By Christopher Sparks, August 16, 2017
The U.S. State Department on Aug. 16 announced it has designated Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) a foreign terrorist organization.
The designation comes three days after one of HM’s top commanders was killed in a gun battle with Indian army troops and police from the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) province where the group is based.
The State Department said it added HM to the U.S.’s terror list under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.
“These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks,” the State Department said in a press release.
“Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.”
HM was formed in 1989 and remains one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in Kashmir. The group, with an estimated force of 1,500 jihadists, wants the integration of J&K with Pakistan.
Since its inception, the HM has also campaigned for the Islamization of Kashmir. It has claimed responsibility for several attacks this year.
On Aug. 13, Yasin Yatoo, a top commander for HM, was killed in a shootout with police and Indian army forces at Awneera village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. Two associates of Yatoo and two soldiers also died in the shootout.
The death of Yatoo, alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, was seen by observers as a major setback for Hizbul Mujahideen amid the forming of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the first affiliate of Al Qaida in Kashmir. Jihadist Zakir Musa broke from HM to form the Al Qaida affiliate.
The State Department said it hopes with the designation of HM as a global terror organization to “expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.”
A list of State Department-designated designated terror organizations is available here