What does the designation of global terrorist mean?
Under the US Executive Order 13224, an individual or group is placed under the category of Special Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Terror outfits are designated ‘Foreign Terrorist Organizations’ and individuals who are part of such organisations are designated SDGT. Such categorisation is aimed at disrupting the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organisations. Through the Office of Assets Control (OFAC), the designation authorises US government to block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism. It deters donations or contributions to designated individuals or entities, and heightens public awareness and knowledge of individuals or entities linked to terrorism. The notification was first signed into law by George W Bush as President in September 2001.
Who is Syed Salahuddin?
Known for his anti-Indian-government stand, Mohammed Yusuf Shah aka Salahuddin, 71, hails from Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir. He unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Amirakadal constituency in 1987. It was after joining Hizb-ul Mjahideen that he changed his name from Yusuf Shah to Syed Salahuddin. He is currently the chief of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, one of several homegrown militant groups that have been operating from the Valley for decades.
To India, what significance does such as designation for Salahuddin hold?
This is the first time a Kashmiri militant has been designated a “global terrorist”. By doing so, the United States has accepted that Salahuddin’s Hizb-ul Mujahideen is not an “indigenous terror group” in Kashmir and poses a greater threat to the world. The US move is a recognition of India’s longstanding position that cross-border terrorism is behind the crisis in Kashmir, particularly in the past one year.
How does it affect Salahuddin himself?
His branding as a “global terrorist” is a major setback to Salahuddin, chief of the Valley’s largest militant outfit and also chairman of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of militant outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Hizb-ul Mujahideen has always pinned its hopes on the intervention of western powers, from the United States to the European Union, for a resolution of the Kashmir issue. Now, the statement released by the US Department of State says Salahuddin “vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Kashmir Valley into a graveyard for Indian forces”.
Has Hizb-ul Mujahideen ever been part of terrorist activists on a global scale?
Hizb-ul Mujahideen maintains close links with Pakistan-based terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad but, unlike these, it has had no global agenda thus far. The outfit has confined itself to the Kashmir Valley, maintaining that its struggle is limited there. Salahuddin recently warned the people of Jammu & Kashmir to stay away from the influence of global terror outfits such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Is it possible that Salahuddin’s name will be removed from the SDGT list one day?
Theoretically, yes. Every year, the Office of Assets Control removes hundreds of individuals and entities from the SDGT list. The individual or entity has to file a reconsideration request with OFAC with a detailed description of why they should be removed. Each removal is based on a thorough review by OFAC.
How many Indians are in the SDGT list?
The list is long and updated from time to time. Among prominent names are underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, his brother Anis Ibrahim and associates Chhota Shakeel and Aziz Moosa. Recently, the US treasury department issued sanctions against Shafi Armar, a Karnataka-born IS operative believed to be in Syria. The list also has Maulana Asim Umar, chief of al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, who hails from Sambhal in UP.
How is the US’s SDGT list different from the UN’s sanction list?
The US executive order prohibits any transaction or dealing with the named individual/entity by US citizens or people living within the United States. Such a designation is, therefore, limited to the United States. A UN designation, on the other hand, is recognised by all countries and is considered a non-partisan global sanction. India had sought the UNSC’s global terrorist designation for JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Salahuddin but the move was blocked by China. Although the US sanction is confined to that country, it can compel other Western countries, including those in the EU, to follow suit.