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Pakistan PM’s political party welcomes Harakat-ul-Mujahideen emir into ranks

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Harakat-ul-Mujahideen emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil.

Editor’s note: Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil and his supporters voice their support for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party in July 2018, and not today as originally reported. Paragephs 1 and 3 have been updated to reflect the change.

In the summer of 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party announced that the leader of internationally recognized terrorist group has joined its ranks.

Khalil is an internationally recognized terrorist. His acceptance by Pakistan’s ruling party shows yet again that the country is not only not serious about dealing with terrorists, but that it also openly welcomes them to use their soil as home base.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil along with his several companions and scholars has announced his support for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI),” Asad Umar, a PTI leader and candidate for Pakistan’s National Assembly announced on his Facebook Page, The News reported in July 2018. Khalil, who heads the banned terrorist group Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and its alias, Ansar ul-Ummah, vowed to “stay committed in ensuring that Pakistan takes the necessary steps required to turn the country into an Islamic democratic state.”

Khalil’s support for the ruling political party, and the PTI’s acceptance of that endorsement, took place the same day that Pakistan began closing offices and institutions run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, another state sponsored terrorist group. The Pakistani government and military officials have long denied that terrorist groups operate within Pakistan.

Khalil is a veteran jihadist who has backed al Qaeda and a host of terrorist groups in the region. In 1998, Khalil signed al Qaeda’s infamous fatwa that declared war against the “Crusaders and Zionists.” HUM has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks in the region, including the suicide assault on the US Consulate in Karachi, the hijacking of an Indian airliner, and the murder and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

HUM members were also in direct contact with Osama bin Laden’s most trust courier as bin Laden and his family were living in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. At the time, HUM commanders were also in touch with Pakistani intelligence officials.

In Aug. 2014, the US State Department updated HUM’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization to include Ansar ul-Ummah as an alias (HUM has been on the US FTO list since 1997). In that same press release, State noted that HUM “operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan.”

One month later, the belatedly listed Khalil as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

Khalil’s links to terrorist attacks and a bevy of terror organizations in the region could not be more clear. If Pakistan was sincere about tackling terrorists groups and their leaders and operatives, Khalil would be at the top of the target list. Instead, he has been welcomed with open arms into Imran Khan’s political party.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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