Militant Islamic group shut down

Sunday, September 30, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Hours after the United Nations ordered member states to crack down on terror groups, Pakistani authorities shut down a militant Islamic group.

Pakistan's government, which has been denounced by hard-line Islamic groups for supporting the United States, met with fresh criticism Saturday after its crackdown on the Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, or Movement of the Holy Warriors, one of the largest militant organizations fighting Indian soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region.

The group has strong ties to Afghanistan, and some of its members were trained there. Scores of Harakat volunteers are believed to be fighting alongside the Taliban against the opposition guerrillas in Afghanistan's north.

Two key leaders of the group, Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil and Farooq Kashmiri, went into hiding soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Both of them fought with Afghan resistance forces against the Soviets in the 1980s.

On Saturday, Pakistan shut down the group's seven offices in Pakistan. A Harakat commander, Sajjad Shahid, blamed "American pressure" for the crackdown.

Harakat's assets were frozen last Monday by President Bush along with those of 26 other organizations and individuals in connection with the worldwide campaign against terrorism.

A second Pakistan-based organization, the Al-Rashid Trust, was also on Bush's list. Pakistan's State Bank froze its assets earlier this week, but the trust is technically allowed to continue since it has not been declared a terrorist organization.

Food shipments resume

A spokesman for the World Food Program, Khaled Mansour, said convoys carrying 200 tons of wheat left the Pakistani border city of Peshawar for the Afghan capital, Kabul. Other shipments would be dispatched in a few days for Kabul and the western city of Herat, he said.

Humanitarian groups have been warning of impending starvation inside Afghanistan because of political turmoil, drought and the threat of American attack. The Taliban are sheltering Osama bin Laden, chief suspect in the Sept. 11 suicide airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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