Hizbut Tahrir complicates military’s terrorism calculus


At a time when talk of possible military action in North Waziristan Agency dominates Islamabad and the GHQ, a carefully coordinated upsurge in activities of banned extremist outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HT) has become cause for multiple worries for the military, according to intelligence sources familiar with the matter.
Not only does the group’s ‘containment’ divert important resources from the operation in the tribal areas, including its intel-intensive spillover into main cities, but recent findings of its infiltration into sensitive military cadres has jolted the army high command, causing immediate cessation of certain sensitive operations till a thorough probe is carried out.
The seriousness of the group’s outreach grabbed public attention after the arrest of Brigadier Ali Khan in May last year, along with four majors, for links with HT. Initial investigation revealed that the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden infuriated the group’s army bloc, prompting a serious, formal objection to the top command regarding the forces’ subservience to US interests. Subsequent scrutiny uncovered HT’s expansion strategy and recruiting tactics. According to the findings, all the while the army has combated al Qaeda and TTP affiliates in the tribal agencies, HT has grown quietly in the working middle class, its tentacles spreading to the military and social intelligentsia.
‘They target minds’: The identity of its principal founder is disputed, but Hizbut Tahrir (Party of Liberation) was founded in Jerusalem in 1953. It aims to reestablish the early Islamic tradition of the caliphate. And while it differs in ideology from al Qaeda’s tendency toward militancy, preferring non-violence instead, it shares the Salafi school’s outright rejection of democratic politics and capitalist free-market economics. It has no petrodollar-funded seminaries like the Saudi backed madrassas that spawned al Qaeda and the Taliban. It operates on two parallels; openly inviting military officers to revolt against their top-most command, while running secret networking rings at the same time. It does not advocate an al Qaeda like fight-to-the-finish, yet is fiercely anti-US, and chooses communication as opposed to coercion to spread its message. Active in more than 40 countries, it is presently headquartered in the UK, and formally began operations in Pakistan in 2000. It was banned in December for 2003, suspected of anti-state activities, including an alleged plot to assassinate then president Pervez Musharraf.
“Their’s is a potentially far more destructive method of operation (than al Qaeda)”, says an intelligence official on the condition of anonymity. “They target minds instead of strategic installations and personnel, using the power of the intellect instead of road-side bombs. They have a self-perpetuating influence”. According to information obtained so far, they target educated professionals, while making no secret of specifically reaching out to the army. In an open letter addressed to the officer corps, it urged the ISI and corps commanders to overthrow the existing ruling elite.
Accusations, counter-accusations, int’l condemnation: The Brig Ali episode coincided with a number of international incidents involving HT. The Indian government has confirmed that its homegrown terrorist group, Indian Mujahideen, regularly receives “intellectual and financial” support from HT.
Daily Mail Online India reported Oct 7 that HT was suspected of masterminding last year’s coup attempt against Sheikh Hasina’s government in Bangladesh. The group’s members have been recently detained in Kyrgystan, Russia, and across eastern Europe, leading a number of countries to ban it, including Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh, Austria and Russia. Intelligence chatter has also picked worrying signals regarding the group’s shift to violent methods, at least advocating and financing them. This turnaround was confirmed during the Indian intelligence’s recent interrogation of Abu Jundal, the Lashkar e Tayyaba’s (LeT) point man in India, after extradition from Saudi Arabia. According to Pakistani intelligence, this recent surge in activity across the region, coupled with credible reports of HT now “going violent”, especially after the Musharraf assassination plot, means the organisation is positioning itself for a coordinated show of force, and the timing and impact of the so-called Arab Spring acted as a catalyst. Reports also indicate “strategic partnership deals” with al Qaeda elements, especially in Pakistan, which threaten to “seriously complicate the army’s anti-terrorism calculus”. In addition to creating another front for the GHQ to consider, there’s also the disturbing thought about depth of the infiltration. According to a New York Times’ report (Aug 3, ’12), “Several weeks before Brig Khan’ arrest last year, Pakistani intelligence warned the government that the movement was planning an Arab Spring like offensive”.
Funding and containment: HT exploits Pakistan’s strategic position and loopholes in the military’s leaning towards America to incite rebellion in the army in a narrative not very different from al Qaeda’s. And while its argument that Washington needs Islamabad’s compliance to check Russia and China in Eurasia and control resource rich Central Asia makes for a strong case, it employs.


  1. Same old tactic of scare mongering against a peaceful movement aiming to make Pakistan and Muslim world a super power on political and strategic plane of the world. We the educated people reject these baseless reports

      • and you based your conclusion on what? where did it say that this organization ever helped TTP? besides mentioning only suspicions that they have links with taliban .. !

      • It is sad to see such ignorant comments. HT calls to people on an intellectual level, and has always argued with substance and logic. Moreover, it has done a great service to the development of political theory of Islam in the contemporary context, which in itself is priceless.

        So stop making such prejudiced and misinformed statements.

  2. Democracy is a system of kufr, This is not because it advocates the election of the ruler, for this is not the fundamental issue. It is rather because the fundamental issue in democracy is giving the right of legislation to the people and not to the Lord of the worlds. Allah (SWT) says: “Indeed, ruling belongs to Allah”. [12:40]

  3. This Movement working to bring back Good Islamic government for all humanity including so called media , Their method completely peaceful

  4. There is no evidence to link this group to violence or violent groups. This is a timed capmpaign to weaken the influence of this intellectual and islamic party. This is a biased article and does no credibility to your journalism skills.

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