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Masood Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador designate to the US, is a Caliphate promoter with deep international terror links

The appointment of Pakistan’s career diplomat Masood Khan as ambassador to the US has run into a rough weather on account of his unapologetic support to several designated terrorist organisation

The appointment of Pakistan’s career diplomat Masood Khan, who also served as ‘President’ of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), as Islamabad’s ambassador to the United States of America, has run into a rough weather on account of his unapologetic support to several designated terrorist organisation. These include Salahuddin’s Jamaat-e-Islami backed Hizbul Mujahideen which has been operating in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990.

The US Department of State declared Salahuddin as a “global terrorist” in June 2017 while his Hizbul Mujahideen was declared as “specially designated global terrorist” (SDGT) in August 2017.

After Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 8, 2016, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif praised him as a “popular leader” in his speech at the United Nations. It ruffled many feathers as Wani had, in a video released in August 2015, called for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir. For the first time, it was directly in conflict with the Kashmiri militants’ populist slogan of ‘azaadi’.

In the video, Wani identified himself with the pan-Islamist cause espoused by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda—the global terrorist organisation universally held responsible for September 11,  and many other attacks on the American interests. “We will not stop until an Islamic caliphate is established”, Wani said in the video, inviting the Kashmiri youths to fight for the creation of an Islamic State in the region.

The six-minute video, which showed Wani in combat fatigue and flanked by two armed guards with Quran beside him,  was released by the same unit of militants which had previously circulated a picture of Wani and his unmasked guerrillas in a South Kashmir orchard.

At a commemoration event at Muzaffarabad on 7 July 2021, ‘President’ Masood Khan said: "We grieve today for Burhan Wani. . . . He lives on . . . in our hearts. He sacrificed his life for a cause”.

Khan said that the history of Kashmiris’ struggle would remain incomplete without the chapter of Burhan Wani “a hero and a glittering star of the liberation struggle, which has been continuing for the last seven decades.” He said that Wani at his young age had “devoted himself to the Kashmir liberation movement and had carried forward the liberation struggle with his valour, wisdom, and vision in a way that he had become the role model for the liberation movements across the world.”

"Wani's martyrdom was certainly a loss of the freedom-loving people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, but his martyrdom would also continue to give a new impulsion to the movement for the right to self-determination of the oppressed Kashmiri nation”, Khan added.

In his statements, Khan has been a sworn supporter of Hizbul Mujahideen. From Burhan Wani to Junaid Sehrai, he has glorified many of the organisation’s commanders as “heroes” and “freedom fighters” without regard to the US State Department’s designations. He called sanctions against Salahuddin as “unjustified” 

A statement issued by Khan’s office in 2020 said: “Paying homage to top Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Junaid Sehrai, and his associate, Tariq Ahmed for offering the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the freedom of their motherland, President (Masood) Khan said all the martyrs and their sacrifices are an asset for the liberation movement. He reiterated Kashmiris' resolve to accomplish the mission of their martyrs at all costs”.

In 2019, Khan participated in the All Parties Kashmir Solidarity Conference in Islamabad. He shared the stage with Fazlur Rehman Khalil, founder of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), which the U.S. State Department designated as a terrorist organization in 1997. In 2014, the US government had designated Khalil as SDGT for “maintaining close relationship with al-Qaeda, including with Usama Bin Laden (UBL) prior to his death”. Khalil was a key member of UBL's International Islamic Front and a cosignatory of UBL's first fatwa issued in 1998 calling for attacks against the United States.

According to an article in the American publication ‘National Review’, Khan is also “a supporter of the violent South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami, whose killing squads helped the Pakistani military carry out acts of genocide against Bangladeshis in 1971”.  Statements published on the Presidential website in PoK featured excerpts of the speeches Khan gave at Jamaat-e-Islami demonstrations and events, in which he “paid tributes to Jamaat Islami Pakistan for playing an active role in Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.”

In 2019, journalist Abdullah Bozkurt tweeted photos of Masood Khan “visiting Turkish intelligence linked charity outfit #IHH that is accused of sending arms, supplies to al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups in #Syria & #Libya,”adding that “IHH runs operations in Kashmir area.” Branches of the IHH have been designated as terrorist organizations in Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel.

While Khan served as the ‘President’ of PoK, extremist charities such as Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) repeatedly enjoyed praise from him and his office, which declared its commitment to “cooperation” with the group. According to Sam Westrop in National Review, HHRD is a leading American proxy for Jamaat-e-Islami.

In 2017, HHRD openly partnered with designated terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were murdered. HHRD also funds and partners with Jamaat-e-Islami’s welfare arm, Al-Khidmat Foundation, which is closely involved with Hizbul Mujahideen, and which proudly boasts of funding Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for its ‘Jihad’.

In 2019, the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan addressed a conference organized by a leading American Islamist organization, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 2018, the Canada Revenue Agency suspended a branch of ISNA after the organization transferred $136,000 (Canadian) to Kashmir, where it is suspected to have fallen into the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen.

While Khan’s credentials are being submitted to White House, Congressman from Pennsylvania Scott Perry has written a detailed dossier and urged President Joseph R. Biden to reject his appointment.

“I write with grave concern about the appointment of Masood Khan as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States. Imran Khan’s nomination of a bona fide terrorist sympathizer working to undermine our interests in the region – as well as the security of our Indian allies –can only be described as a breathtaking lack of judgment at best, and a demonstration of Islamabad’s unmitigated contempt for the United States at worst”, Perry has written.

“Masood Khan has praised both terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations – including Hizbul Mujahideen – in stark and unsettling terms. He has encouraged young men to emulate jihadists like Burhan Wani, a former commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who dedicated his life to a holy war against India. In 2017, Mr. Khan lashed out at the United States for designating the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen for sanctions, calling those sanctions unjustifiable”, Perry has written further. He has referred to Khan’s love and liaison with SGDTs Khalil, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, LeT and al-Qaeda besides Jamaat-e-Islami.

“This unscrupulous individual also called on the United States to free would-be mass murderer Aafia Siddiqui. In 2010, Siddiqui was convicted of attempting to murder American Troops; since then, jihadists have regularly clamored for her release – to include the perpetrator behind the anti-Semitic hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas earlier this month”, Perry has written to Biden.

“I urge you to reject any diplomatic credentials presented to you by Masood Khan and reject any effort by the Government of Pakistan to install this jihadist as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States”, Perry has written.

Also Read: Pressure mounts on Biden to reject Masood Khan’s appointment as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States

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