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Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Arabic: حركة الجهاد الإسلامي‎, Ḥarkat al-Jihād al-Islāmiyah, meaning "Islamic Struggle Movement", HuJI) is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist terrorist/militant organization most active in South Asian countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India since the early 1990s. It was banned in Bangladesh in 2005. The operational commander of HuJI, Ilyas Kashmiri, is believed to have been killed in a U.S. Predator drone strike in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan on September 14, 2009[1].



HuJI or HJI was formed in 1984 by Fazalur Rehman Khalil and Qari Saifullah Akhtar, as the first Pakistan-based jihadist - Islamic terrorist - outfit, during the Soviet-Afghan War.[2] Khalil later broke away to form his own group Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA), which later emerged as the most feared militant organization in Kashmir. This group would later re-form as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), when HuA was banned by the United States in 1997.[2]

HuJI first limited its operations in Afghanistan to defeating the Communists, but after the Soviets retreated, the organization exported jihad to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir under the patronage of ISI and the Pakistani establishment.[3] HuJI's footprint was extended to Bangladesh when the Bangladesh unit was established in 1992, with direct assistance from Osama bin Laden.[4]


HuJI, along with other terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), HuM, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) emerged from the same source, and therefore had similar motivations and goals.[5] However, HuJI and HuM were both strongly backed by the Taliban, and therefore the group professed Taliban-style fundamentalist Islam. HuJI espoused a Pan-Islamic ideology, but it believed in violent means to liberate Kashmir and make it a part of Pakistan.[2]


The group recruited some of its cadres from the Deobandi madrassas of the North-West Frontier Province, however the ethnic composition changed when the recruitment also began from Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Karachi. Most of the recruits were jobless youths, who were searching for some meaning in their lives. Most of the inductions were done by the roaming jihadist cells, who lured the teenagers to so-called religious sermons imbued with the spirit of jihad, from where the process of induction began. Unlike LeT, HuJI did not require its cadres to go through religious education, rather the recruits proceeded to military training in the camps located in Afghanistan and Azad Kashmir.[2]

Plot to overthrow Benazir government

In September 1995, the group's connection with Islamist elements in Pakistan Army when group's leader Saifullah Akhtar was implicated in the right-wing coup plot. A customs guard inspection of a car outside Kohat revealed a huge arms cache hidden in the back. Subsequent investigations unearthed huge a conspiracy. Those weapons were directed to Islamist Army officers, Major General Zahirul Islam Abbasi, and Brigadier Mustansar Billah, who had plans to first overthrow the-then Army leadership at the next corps commander meeting and then bring Islamic revolution in the country by taking down the Benazir Bhutto government. Both generals conspired to eliminate the top military and civilian leadership and establish an 'Islamic dictatorship' in the country.[6]

Activities in Bangladesh

After the group established its Bangladesh wing, the operations in Bangladesh increased, with the major source of recruitment coming from the Islamic madrassas.[4][7] The training for these recruits was given in the hilly areas of Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar[4][8].

Later on, members of the group made an attempt on the life of Shamsur Rahman, the liberal poet in January 1999.[9] Committed to establishing an Islamic rule[10], HuJI was the prime suspect in a scheme to assassinate the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in the year 2000, and has been blamed for a number of bombings in 2005. In October 2005, it was officially banned by the government of Bangladesh.

Activities in India

In April 2006, the state police Special Task Force in India uncovered a plot hatched by six HuJI terrorists, including the mastermind behind the 2006 Varanasi bombings, involving the destruction of two Hindu temples in the Indian city of Varanasi. Maps of their plans were recovered during their arrest. Pakistani passports had been in the possession of the arrested.

Militant attacks claimed by or attributed to HuJI

Date Country Description
1999 Bangladesh Failed attempt to assassinate the humanist poet Shamsur Rahman
2000 Bangladesh alleged failed scheme to assassinate the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina
2003 India Role in Assassination of the former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya.
2002 January India Terror attack near the American Centre in Kolkata, executed in collaboration with the Dawood-linked mafioso Aftab Ansari
2005 June India Bombing of the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi Express at Jaunpur
2005 India Suicide bombing of the headquarters of the Andhra Pradesh Police's counter-terrorism Special Task Force. A Bangladeshi national, Mohatasin Bilal, had carried out the bombing
2006 March Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India Bombing of the Sankat Mochan temple, which was traced to HuJI's Bangladesh-based cells
2007 August 25 Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India 25 August 2007 Hyderabad bombings (suspected, but no evidence revealed as of early September)
2008 May 13 Jaipur, Rajasthan, India 13 May 2008 Jaipur bombings (suspected; evidence pending.)
2008 July 25 Bangalore, India 2008 Bengaluru serial blasts (suspected; evidence pending.)
2008 July 26 Ahmadabad, India 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts (suspected; evidence pending.)
2008 September 13 Delhi, India 2008 Delhi serial blasts (suspected; evidence pending.)
2008 September 20 Islamabad, Pakistan 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing (claimed by HuJI; evidence pending.)
2008 October 1 Agartala, Tripura, India 2008 Agartala bombings (HuJI suspected; evidence pending.)
2008 October 30 Guwahati ,Barpeta,Kokrajhar,Bongaigaon ,India 2008 Assam bombings (HuJI suspected; evidence pending.)


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam by Zahid Hussain, Columbia University Press, 2007, page 71.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Sudha Ramachandran. 'PART 2: Behind the Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami' Asia Times Online, December 10, 2004
  5. ^ Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam by Zahid Hussain, Columbia University Press, 2007, page 52.
  6. ^ Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam by Zahid Hussain, Columbia University Press, 2007, page 72.
  7. ^ Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay and Haroon Habib. 'Challenges in the east' Frontline magazine, January 17 - 23, 2006
  8. ^ John Wilson. 'The Roots of Extremism in Bangladesh' Terrorism Monitor, January 2005 issue, published by the Jamestown Foundation
  9. ^ 'Shamsur Rahman, Bangladeshi Poet, Dies' The New York Times, August 19, 2006
  10. ^ Sudha Ramachandran. 'The Threat of Islamic Extremism to Bangladesh' PINR - Power and Interest News Report, July 27, 2005


  • Zahid Hussain. Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
  • Hassan Abbas. Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, then Army, and America's War Terror, M.E. Sharpe, 2004.

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