August Issue 2005
Hizbul Tehrir (HUT) is a missionary group with offices in both Lahore and London. The organisation is banned in Pakistan. However, even though some of the Tehrir’s alumni were allegedly involved in a recent plot to blow up a shopping centre outside London and a host of other terrorist acts, including suicide bombings in Tel Aviv in Israel, it has not yet been banned in the UK.
Despite the ban in Pakistan, the organisation’s members are seen almost every Friday at various important mosques in Karachi and Lahore, distributing explosive literature propagating the revival of the Caliphate or the Khilafat system. Many of them have been arrested, but they have managed to secure their release through the courts.
Pakistani intelligence officials are convinced that the HUT has been working in tandem with Al-Qaeda under the garb of pan-Islamism. “We have yet to establish whether any of the four suicide bombers were members of HUT, but we are convinced that HUT members have played a vital role in indoctrinating dozens of youths who were later used as cannon fodder by international terror networks,” says a senior police official.
Asif Mohammed Hanif, the terrorist who blew himself up in a cafÃ© in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2003, and his accomplice and would-be bomber, Omar Khan Sharif, were British-born Muslims affiliated with HUT. Asif Hanif, of Indian origin, set off the bomb, while the device carried by his accomplice of Pakistani descent, Omar Khan Sharif, failed to explode.
In another instance, investigations revealed that the relatives of Omar Khayyam, a student from Crawley, Sussex, went to Pakistan to search for him in terrorist training camps operating in the country. Khayyam apparently left his home to travel to Pakistan to train as a terrorist. At this time it was also learnt that HUT had an office and a representative, Hassan Butt, in Lahore, Pakistan, and that the organisation was encouraging British volunteers to train and fight abroad.
Hassan Butt, who came to Pakistan and then returned to Britain in 2002 from Lahore, stated in an interview with the Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, that he estimated that there were more than 50 suicide bombers waiting to carry out operations. He added that most of the suicide bombers are currently in Britain, where they had received religious indoctrination and been taught that jihad was a priority. However, he said not all of these youths were necessarily active members of HUT. Butt was arrested from London in May 2003, but he was later released.
Pakistani intelligence officials disclosed that Zeeshan Siddiqui, 25, who was apprehended in Peshawar in May 2005 by Pakistani intelligence agencies, had told them that he was “converted” by the members of HUT, who used to give lectures on Islam in one of the mosques in London where he used to offer his prayers.
HUT is ideologically allied with some other radical groups, particularly those associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami, especially in regard to the belief that all Muslims bear responsibility to look out for one another — the utopian vision of the Khilafat.