Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin admitted to carrying out terrorist attacks in India and said he could target the country “at any time” during an interview to Geo TV, a Pakistani channel. Salahuddin was designated as a ‘global terrorist’ by the United States on June 26, hours ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington.
“Till now our focus was on Indian occupation forces. All the operations that we have done or are underway, we focus only on the installations of these occupational forces,” Salahuddin said. The Hizbul Mujahideen chief, who claimed to have many supporters in India, admitted to carrying out many “operations” in the country, adding that he could strike India “at any time”. Read: Who is Syed Salahuddin, chief of Hizbul Mujahideen? Click here.
Salahuddin described Kashmir as ‘home’, and said Burhan Wani’s death last year has triggered an uprising in the Valley. After Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces last July, Salahuddin had vowed to turn the state into “a graveyard for Indian forces”. He had said he would block any peaceful resolution adopted for the state had threatened to train more Kashmir-based suicide bombers.
“If we would have taken our operations out of Kashmir at that time, India would get a chance to label Kashmir-e-Tehreek a terrorist organisation. We have support and we can target any place in India, at any time,” he said, during the interview. He explained that the international scene has changed since 9/11. He added he purchases weapons from the international market.
In a statement, the US State Department had said: “Department of State has designated Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as (AKA) Syed Salahuddin, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons who have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. .” Also read: How much does Syed Salahuddin matter in the Valley? Click here.
Salahuddin, who had rejected these charges, described himself as a freedom fighter and not a terrorist. He vowed to continue fighting for the ‘liberation’ of Kashmir. “We are not terrorists… Our struggle is for freedom from India and it will continue till liberation of Kashmir,” the 71-year-old leader said.
“The US cannot provide a single example of when I and other Kashmiri fighters committed any act of terrorism,” he said, addressing the media at the Centre Press Club in Muzaffarabad. “Kashmiri freedom fighters have a code of conduct to not harm minorities, the elderly, children and women, and if sometimes the enemy offers a peace deal, we accept it.”
The Hizb has claimed responsibility for several attacks in India in the past, including the April 2014 explosives attack in J&K which injured 17 people.
(With inputs from agencies)