The Al Badr, currently an active terrorist outfit in Jammu and Kashmir, was proscribed by the Government of India on April 1, 2002, under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance-2001, which became the Prevention of Terrorism Act on April 28, 2002. It is also designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in the United States.
Formation and Objectives
The Al Badr was formed in June 1998 with the professed goal of strengthening the ‘Kashmiri freedom struggle’ and to ‘liberate’ the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and merge it with Pakistan. The outfit advocates that Kashmiris should be given the right of self-determination in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.
Al Badr reportedly traces its origins to 1971 when a group of the same name carried out attacks on Bengalis in what was then known as East Pakistan. The group also operated as part of the Hizb-e-lslami (HIG) of warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
While advocating the idea of a sovereign Kashmir it is also critical of the moderate Kashmiri organisations, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The current Al Badr leadership is also opposed to the United States, Israel and the regime of Saudi Arabia. The outfit has in the past indicated that it perceives Kashmir to be the ‘gateway of India’ and describes its objective as the ‘liberation’ of Muslims in the rest of India after ‘occupying’ Kashmir.
The Al Badr, according to official sources in Jammu and Kashmir, which was earlier operating under the banner of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), was encouraged by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, to operate independently in the year 1998. Indian intelligence sources have indicated that a new version of the Al Badr was formed as part of this changed strategy, in 1998, through the induction of foreign mercenaries serving in several other terrorist outfits in Kashmir.
Leadership, Command Structure and Cadre
During the time of its formation, the Al Badr was led by Lukmaan, a resident of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Bakht Zameen, a resident of Punjab province in Pakistan, is the present ‘chief commander’ of the outfit. Arfeen Bhai alias Lukmaan alias Jannisar is reported to be the ‘chief commander’ of Al Badr in Jammu and Kashmir. Among the other leaders of Al Badr are: ‘launching commander’ Irfan; ‘deputy supreme commander’ Zahid Bhai; ‘publicity chief’ Jasm Bhat; ‘communication in-charge’ Abu Mawai.
Al Badr is reported to possess a cadre strength of approximately 200, including 120 foreign mercenaries.
Headquarters and Areas of Operation
The outfit is headquartered at Mansehra in Pakistan. It is also reported to have a camp office in Muzaffarabad, PoK.
Reportage of the past five years has indicated that the Al Badr is active in the Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Srinagar and Kupwara districts of the Kashmir Valley. It also has a presence in the Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.
The Al Badr is part of the United Jehad Council (UJC), a coalition of Pakistan-based terrorist groups active in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is reported to have training camps in the Manshera area of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan, Kotli and Muzaffarabad in PoK.
It has launched or threatened to launch attacks targeting Indian military installations and prominent government officials in Jammu and Kashmir.
Al Badr cadres are reported to have taken an active part, under the ISI tutelage, in the Kargil intrusion of 1999. The outfit’s ‘chief commander’ Bakht Zameen was reportedly based in Skardu during the intrusion to monitor the movement of his cadres from Pakistan to Skardu and its forward areas.
The outfit, which was defunct for some time towards the end of the 1990s, had, with increasing frequency, begun to claim responsibility for several acts of terrorist violence in J&K during year 2000. Official sources indicated that several terrorists killed in the year 2000 were Al Badr cadres. In one such incident, five terrorists, allegedly part of an Al Badr suicide squad, were killed when troops raided their hideout at Theuru near Ganderbal.
The outfit has opposed the cease-fire on the Line of Control (LoC) declared by India and Pakistan in November 2003. Al Badr has consistently been opposed to any process of dialogue between India and Pakistan. For instance, the outfit’s chief Bakht Zameen said in an interview on September 5, 2001, that India was not sincere about holding a dialogue for the amicable settlement of the Kashmir issue. While urging Pakistan to concentrate upon strengthening Jehad instead of "wasting further time seeking a negotiated settlement," he also asked the military regime to refrain from initiating any steps that would undermine the ‘freedom movement’ in Jammu and Kashmir.
The outfit has also sought to enforce Islamist lifestyles in the areas in which it operates. For instance, reports of August 2003 indicated that the Al Badr ordered women in the rural areas of J&K to quit police jobs, wear veils, give up studies after the age of 14 and not to venture out without a male escort. Posters carrying these diktats were seen pasted on street walls and mosques in the Thannamandi and Darhal areas of Rajouri district. The posters, written in Urdu, warned of unspecified consequences if women failed to comply. Earlier on December 20, 2002, in a major terrorist act against women across Jammu region, terrorists killed three young girls, including two college students, at Hasiot village in Rajouri district. The separate incidents were reportedly carried out by a group of three Pakistani terrorists belonging to the Al Badr led by the outfit’s ‘area commander’ Zubair Gul.
The outfit launched a monthly Urdu magazine ‘Al Badr' from Karachi and Rawalpindi in January 1999.
The Al Badr is reported to have close linkages with the Inter Services Intelligence and Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan. During the regime of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, the outfit’s cadres secured weapons and ideological training in many camps across that country.
The Lahore-based Daily Times reported on December 27, 2003, that security agencies were investigating the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Al Badr’s links with the Al Qaeda, Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami. There were reports that the two organisations’ former Mujahideen were recruiting Jihadis for the Taliban and the Hizb-e-Islami from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan.