June issue 2004
The Way of the Terrorist
“To become a martyr is the dream of every mujahid. It is a gift from God and will also send a message to the enemy that the mujahid would prefer to die in an interrogation cell rather than disclose any secrets which could harm other mujahids,” says a 24-page Hidayatnama, retrieved from Shami, an Islamic militant from the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, during a police raid on a small bomb factory. Shami was arrested from the outskirts of Karachi and police had recovered a huge quantity of explosives from his house. He is allegedly the man who had replaced Asif Ramzi, former Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief who was killed in an accidental bomb explosion.
Early this month, police arrested nine Harkatul Mujahideen Al-Alami militants, among them Suhail Akhtar alias Mustafa, who investigators allege is the author of the document recovered from Shami, and the mastermind behind supplying suicide bombers to various militant organisations.
Mustafa, known among his students in the jihadi training camps as “Ustad,” is a highly composed 35-year-old man belonging to a lower middle class family. Sources say his duty was to give ideological training to militants and motivate them to become suicide bombers. “These are not normal crimes nor they are ordinary criminals like the dacoits and other criminal elements involved in ethnic or political killings. These are people who have no qualms about killing others in the name of religion,” says a police investigator. According to him, Mustafa’s name first appeared during the initial probe in the Daniel Pearl case, but it was only after the arrest of the nine Harkat militants that the police realised how dangerous Mustafa was.
The Hidayatnama begins with an introduction for all mujahideen, including instructions to be used during training and what to do if arrested. In the first chapter, emphasis is laid on “collective restraint.” For instance it says, every mujahideen should try not to divulge his personal problems to others in the organisation. Gathering information other than that required, should also be avoided. Mujahideen should only move according to instructions from the centre.” The second chapter deals with “personal restraint,” which advises mujahideen to avoid keeping photographs and secret documents of the organisation to which they belong, on their person. “You should try not to tell your family members about your whereabouts and also avoid meeting them as this could land you in trouble. Our relation is with God and whatever we are doing is for God and all other relationships are meaningless. Therefore, try to avoid making friends and keeping in close touch with your relatives,” says the Hidayatnama. The third chapter deals with “restraint in meeting people.” It says that mujahideen should avoid meeting each other unless it is very important or if directed by the centre. Try to avoid meeting at a place where you look different to the people around you to avoid raising suspicion. Always use code names and don’t stay anywhere for very long. Whenever you want to meet someone never keep anything in your pocket, which could get you into trouble, like telephone numbers or any party literature,” reads the list of directives. “If you are travelling in a car or on a motor-cycle, always keep its documents with you. Always avoid arguments with traffic cops if you break a traffic signal, as arguments could get you in trouble. If you are not carrying any weapon never hesitate to allow your car to be searched if stopped by patrolling police, particularly if you have not been identified.”
Another chapter deals with how “friends,” (as the mujahideen are referred to), should keep their hideouts secret from others. “Always keep your hideout a secret. Dress in the same way as the people of the area you are living in. Try to avoid living in those areas where the majority are Punjabi-speaking as most of the police and people in intelligence agencies are from the Punjab.” The “mujahideen” were also instructed that if they were purchasing any property as a hideout, fake documents should be used.
In the subsequent chapters, militants are given instructions on how they should avoid using the Internet and mobile phones. “Every friend should avoid opening any internet site which could land you in trouble or help others find out about your ideology or strategy like what happened with the Al-Qaeda. Always use a cafe for chatting or sending messages on the email, but avoid sending e-mails from your own home or a friend’s house. Similarly, first write your message on Note Pad or WordPad.”
The most important instructions in the document pertain to when a “friend” is arrested — what he should do during interrogation. “If any friend gets into trouble he must remember one thing: police or interrogators will give you the impression that they know everything about you, your organisation and other “friends” but, in reality, they know nothing so don’t fall into their trap. You have to remain very composed, particularly when the interrogators threaten to harm your parents or sisters. They can use all kind of methods, but you are answerable only to God, so never betray your friends or the future plans of the organisation,” says the document. “Never give detailed answers and avoid unneccessary information. Try to confuse them about your friends,” it says. “Even during the worst interrogation or torture divulge nothing about any of your ‘friends’ who are not wanted by the police.”
All the militants were instructed never to disclose to the police information about the places where explosives or weapons are stashed, particularly when the house belongs to someone who is not directly linked with the organisation. “Never inform the police about people who do not directly belong to the organisation but provide financial support to the jihad while doing their own business or job.”
An interesting revelation in the document is about whether to “accept or not accept responsibility,” for any operation. “Sometimes accepting responsibility can cause harm to the movement and the mujahideen. For instance, there are certain places which the organisation might have considered attacking, but the mission was not undertaken. Never accept responsibility in such situations. Always keep a cover story in your mind if you get arrested,” says the document.
“Never be afraid to die, even when interrogators threaten you with death or put you in front of a firing squad. These are mere threats and then, remember, you are a mujahid, and whatever you are doing is for the cause of your religion.”
“Mustafa is the author of this 24-page document, which is used to motivate the militants,” says the chief of the Police Investigation Department, Fayyaz Leghari. “Mustafa allegedly had several suicide bombers at his disposal who he used to provide to different militant groups, depending on the requirement and the targets,” says Leghari. “He was normally only interested in high-profile targets, particularly foreigners, and he provided the suicide bombers in the attack on the Sheraton Hotel and outside the US Consulate.” Mustafa is currently being interrogated for his role in the two devastating suicide attacks in Quetta on a Shiite mosque and the Muharram procession in which a 100 people were killed. Mustafa was arrested alongwith nine other militants of Harkatul Mujahideen Al-Aalami, said to be an offshoot of Harkatul Mujahideen led by Khalilur Rehman Khalili, who are fighting in Indian administered Kashmir since 1989.
What police investigators are so far silent about is the fact that Mustafa is also linked with the two suicide attacks on President Pervez Musharraf, in one of which two of his security guards were killed. “I can only say this much that although Mustafa may not be directly involved, so far he is the only one we know who has several suicide bombers at his disposal. He is a tough and difficult person to break,” said an investigator.
This is the only document or Hidayatnama that the police have managed to lay their hands on, and it reflects the danger Pakistan is facing from thousands of motivated mujahideen, whose targets range from President Musharraf to foreign missions to diplomats or anyone who gets in their way, including the law-enforcing agencies.
“It is not easy to interrogate people whose dream is to become a martyr,” says police chief, Syed Kamal Shah. So although the law enforcing agencies might have captured an important militant, how much information they can extract is questionable.