Who is Syed Salahuddin, and why is he a ‘global terrorist’?

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Syed Salahuddin, whom the United Stated has designated as a “global terrorist”, is the ‘supreme commander’ of Kashmiri militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

A statement released by the U.S. Department of State mentions 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.“

Born Mohammed Yusuf Shah, Salahuddin changed his name after taking over as head of the militant outfit in the late eighties. The 71-year-old is also the head of United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation of terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that operate out of Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is one of the several homegrown militant groups that have for decades been fighting for an independent Kashmir or merger with Pakistan. Salahuddin openly claimed responsibility for the terror attack on Pathankot military base last year.

Prior to joining the Hizb, Salahuddin unsuccessfully contested in the 1987 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections from the Amirakadal constituency.

Salahuddin has been vocal in his anti-India stand. He has also time and again mentioned Pakistan’s role in Kashmir unrest. “The mujahideen struggle serves as a defence line for Pakistan,” Salahuddin had said. A photograph of him with with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed surfaced days before Union Minister Rajnath Singh made a visit to Pakistan last year.

India has been lobbying hard at the United Nations Security Council to declare him a global terrorist, with the latest attempt blocked by China. The move by United States, also a permanent member of UNSC, is seen as a big morale boost to India, especially when it became public a few days back that Salahuddin is residing in Pakistan.

Salahuddin, in a video message reportedly from Karachi, called for a week-long agitation to mark the first death anniversary of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, who was killed by security forces in an encounter on July 8 last.

What does it mean to be U.S.’ ‘Designated Global Terrorist’?

The U.S. State Department maintains and periodically updates its list of individual terrorists and terror organisations that operate outside its soil. This is essentially done to ensure these individuals get out of the terrorism business. Terror outfits are termed ‘Foreign Terrorist Organizations’ and individuals acting as part of a terrorist organisation are designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

The Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism identifies and evaluates possible individuals or organisations for designation. When a person or group is identified as “global terrorist” or a “terrorist organisation”, the assets in the United States or in control of any person/institution in the country are immediately blocked. The citizens and organisations of the U.S. are barred from making any financial transactions with these individuals or groups.

In UN, they are called ‘Foreign Terrorist Fighters’

Since 2014, the United Nations maintains a list of what they call Foreign Terrorist Fighters, “individuals who travel to a State other than their State of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict.”

Built on the guidelines of International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the financing for terror is criminalised and are binding on all member States of the United Nations.

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