The arrest of Syed Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), once again reveals a disturbing fact that we have long ignored that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which practices Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, has double standards vis-a-vis India.
While it talks of strengthening bilateral relationship on world stage, it sneakily exports terror that kills and maims our people. The trouble is, we know it but do nothing about it. At least, not as vocally as we do against Pakistan.
The top anti-terror agency says it’s been conclusively established that Yousuf was in touch with Saudi Arabia-based Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorist, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, and had received money to fund secessionist and terror activities in the Kashmir Valley.
Yousuf accepted the funds wired through Western Union by Aijaz, who is on the run, and investigators have documents from Saudi Arabia and India confirming the transfers.
His father, Syed Salahuddin, was in June declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State. He is head of an alliance of anti-India militant groups, the United Jihad Council that works to annex the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.
While Pakistan’s aggression is ‘in your face’, Saudis operate quietly. They look the other way, allowing free passage to extremists who pose grave danger to India.
Zakir Naik, who the NIA will file a charge-sheet against later this week on proven charges of preaching hatred against India, is presumed to have a Saudi passport. He has been travelling there freely for a long time, reportedly recruiting agents to promote his devious cause. There is enough proof that his NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), was involved in fomenting religious conflict and radicalising Indian youth.
India’s focus has been largely on the activities of Zakir, whereas it should also have been on cautioning the Saudis that their acceptance of Zakir betrays their claims of cooperation with India in their fight against terrorism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Saudi Arabia early last year was supposed to mark a new beginning. They firmed up a raft of pacts to shore up their strategic partnership, besides exploring ways to enhance security and counter-terror cooperation. The promise of cooperation on fighting terror appears to be a non-starter and it should worry us.
India faces numerous Kashmir-focused Islamist terrorist groups based in Pakistan, such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). They have help from sponsors sitting in places such as Saudi Arabia, among others.
It should prompt India to re-formulate its strategic and foreign policy over the second decade of the 21st century.
With Pakistan, India has made it clear that terror and friendship cannot go hand in hand. We must convey the same message to the others.