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February 18, 2021 12:44 pm
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Rashida Tlaib Speaks at Kashmir Event Featuring Jihad Supporters

avatar by Abha Shankar

Opinion

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) addresses a rally protesting against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Detroit, Michigan, June 6, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Rebecca Cook.

A Kashmir Solidarity Day event drew the radicalized son of a prominent jihadist — as well as a sitting member of Congress.

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) spoke at the February 5 webinar sponsored by Justice for All, the activist arm of the Chicago-based multimedia company Sound Vision. Sound Vision is an offshoot of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

Tlaib discussed a 2019 voiding of a 70-year-old “temporary” provision that divided the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two federally-administered territories that are now governed directly by New Delhi.

Tlaib’s comments fit into a broader campaign to misrepresent and exaggerate the situation in J&K. Although India imposed political detentions, Internet and media restrictions, and other measures after the status change to maintain order, many of those restrictions have since been lifted and mainstream political figures released. Local-level elections were successfully conducted in the union territory in December.

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Tlaib introduced a resolution in Congress “condemning the human rights violations taking place in Jammu and Kashmir and supporting Kashmiri self-determination.” The resolution has not advanced.

Ahmed bin Qasim, a journalist with the Turkish government mouthpiece TRT World, joined Tlaib at the Kashmir solidarity event. He is the son of prominent Kashmiri jihadist Ashiq Hussain Faktoo and hardcore separatist leader Aasiya Andrabi.

His Twitter posts, that are now visible only to his followers, advocate Islamist insurrection in Kashmir.

“My dear mother, may you continue to agitate and frustrate the colonizer like you always have. #InternationalWomensDay,” Qasim wrote last March. Another tweet quoted Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Riyaz Naikoo saying, “No colonial occupation has continued forever, and it is our firm belief that the Indian rule in Kashmir will also collapse sooner or later, until then, we will fight.”

A former top commander of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM), Faktoo was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 1992 murder of prominent Kashmir Pandit (Hindu) human rights activist Hriday Nath Wanchoo.

The pro-Pakistan JUM emerged in 1990 as a breakaway faction of the US-designated terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), and is reported to have carried out terror attacks in J&K. Faktoo reportedly is a founding HM member.

Qasim’s mother, Aasiya Andrabi, is a hardcore pro-Pakistan separatist leader. She was arrested in April 2018 for running the terrorist organization Dukhtaran-e-Milat (Daughters of the Nation). In December, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court ordered Andrabi and two of her associates be charged with sedition and conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks.

In 2015, Andrabi addressed a Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) rally in Pakistan via telephone. The rally was led by JuD chief Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed is the co-founder of the US-designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 183 people dead and hundreds injured.

“I am educating my two sons to follow the steps of [Osama] bin Laden and [Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad] Omar,” Andrabi reportedly told Agence France Presse (AFP) in 2002.

“There is a dire need for Muslims to rise to the occasion and wage jihad against the forces occupying Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya,” she said. “A Muslim who dies without an urge of jihad in his heart dies as an infidel and not as a Muslim.”

ICNA’s flagship publication, The Message International, featured an exclusive interview with Syed Salahuddin in 1997, lauding the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander as the “undisputed leader of the mujahideen struggling to liberate the territory of Kashmir from brutal Indian occupation.” The US Department of State designated Salahuddin a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2017.

During the webinar, UK parliamentarian Afzal Khan described J&K as “one of the oldest unresolved dispute[s] on the UN books.” He added, “the suffering of the Kashmiri people is not new, but it’s been going on for more than 70 plus years. And what is sad is that the suffering is actually increasing by the day.” The Indian government denies these allegations.

Khan addressed a July online seminar in memory of Jamaat-e-Islami’s former ameer Syed Munawar Hasan. Khan described Hasan as an “amazing” and “charismatic” individual and expressed admiration for his “commitment [and] dedication [to] goals.”

Soon after US Navy SEALS shot and killed Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound, Hasan said people like bin Laden do not die but continue to live in the hearts of people. “We need to develop readiness for Jihad and passion for shahadat [martyrdom],” he wrote in 2016. He reportedly called the United States Pakistan’s enemy, stating: “America was our enemy yesterday, it is so today, and tomorrow too it will not refrain from enmity against us.”

Tlaib, meanwhile, likened the conflict in Kashmir to the Palestinian cause and promised to be “a fighter and a partner in the United States Congress.”

“We have truth on our side and we always will because every single child that is harmed will continue to speak the truth even years later as they try to pretend it never happened,” Tlaib said. “And as a daughter of Palestinian immigrants, I see it happening to my ancestors, my family, every single day.”

Tlaib’s remarks at a webinar featuring supporters of terror and jihad are not surprising. They simply follow a past pattern of embracing Palestinian radicals who seek Israel’s destruction and support terrorism.

The author is a contributor to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, where a version of this article was originally published.

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