NEWS

U.S. Islamist Leaders Met with Senior State Dept. Official About Kashmir

An American Islamist delegation that included a supporter of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, a group that directly supports Kashmiri terrorists, met last week with a senior State Department official, the Pakistani news website Dawn.com reported.

Leaders of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Pakistan Affairs Ervin Massinga, a Sept. 6 tweet from the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs shows. The delegation included Zahid Bukhari, executive director of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)'s Council for Social Justice; Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR); Osama Abu Irshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); and USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal.

India's decision last month to end the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir's special status has heightened tensions with Pakistan. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has helped foment terrorist activity in the region for decades. Pakistan and India fought a series of wars over the territory since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

U.S. Islamists rallied behind Pakistan since India announced the change in Kashmir's status.

AMP, a rabidly anti-Israel group, tried to compare the Jammu and Kashmir issue to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Revoking Article 370 has turned India from administrator to fully-fledged colonizer, following, in many ways, Israel's methods," AMP wrote.

CAIR and its chapters also protested India's decision.

State Department officials told the USCMO delegation that the U.S. hopes to see direct talks between India and Pakistan.

Multiple posts on Bukhari's Facebook page show his support for Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan.

Hizb ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group that has waged a jihadist struggle against India in Kashmir since 1989, has a close relationship with Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. The Canadian Revenue Agency called this group the armed wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. Hizb ul-Mujahideen was founded by a Jamaat-e-Islami member and evidence suggests a close financial relationship with the terrorist group.

Jamaat-e-Islami death squads killed thousands of civilians during Bangladesh's 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan. A Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal convicted former Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Secretary General Ashrafuzzaman Khan in 2013 on 11 counts of kidnapping and murder of 18 intellectuals in the War of Independence.

ICNA has historic ties to Jamaat-e-Islami, which aims to create an Islamic society. ICNA's 1994 Charter and By-Laws, which bears Bukhari's imprint, states that Islam should be "sincerely and exclusively implemented in all aspects of human life" through "democratic, legal and peaceful means."

Bukhari has offered a similar vision.

"We are to prove our claim that Islam is the only answer and the only solution for all socioeconomic, political and cultural problems," Bukhari said in the July 1992 issue of ICNA's monthly periodical The Message International.

Research Analyst Teri Blumenfeld contributed to this report.