Posts Tagged ‘Jamaat-ud-Dawa’

Jamaat-ud-Dawa: Internationally renowned charity or militant group?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The News (Jang Group)The News reports today that 160 Pakistanis appear on Interpol’s ‘Wanted List’. While the report is mostly just a list of names taken from the Interpol ‘Wanted List’, the author Sabir Shah gives special attention to the presence of Hafiz Saeed, terming his group Jamaat-ud-Dawa as the “globally renowned Islamic charity”. JuD is internationally known, but not as a ‘renowned charity’.

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The history of Jamaat-ud-Dawa is worth mentioning as it grew from another banned militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) currently known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or ‘Jud’, is one of the most organized militant organizations in South Asia. Although ‘Let’ was banned earlier not only in Pakistan but also in the US, European Union, Russia, Australia and India, it continues to operate under the guise of ‘Jud’ from Muridke near Lahore in Pakistan with strong backing from the ISI.

‘Jud’ was created by Hafiz Saeed and Zafar Iqbal in 1985 to preach their version of Wahabi Islam. Presently, the organization’s stated objective is to destroy India, Israel and the United States for they are the enemies of Islam. The followers of ‘Jud’ also seek to spread the rule of Islam all over the world through violent means and liberate Indian administered Kashmir. Another stated aim of this group is to exact revenge from the enemies of Islam while defending Muslim states and forcing the infidels in the Muslim world to pay jazia. The group has marked hundreds of potential targets around the world which have to be struck.

Hafiz Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba with Zakiur Rehman who also appears on the Interpol ‘Wanted List’ according to the report in The News.

Along with Hafiz Saeed, the name of the 51-year-old Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is also there on this Interpol’s “Wanted List.”Lakhvi is accused of crimes that are similar to the ones ‘allegedly’ committed by Hafiz Saeed. On December 3, 2008, India had named him as one of the four possible major planners behind the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

He is wanted in India by the Additional Sessions Judge of the Mumbai sessions Court.The Okara-based Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is believed by Western and Indian media to be a founding member of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and currently serves as Supreme Commander of operations in Kashmir.

In 2008, Jamaat-ud-Dawa was added to a list of international terrorist groups by the United Nations. Following the announcement, the government arrested Hafiz Saeed and banned his organisation.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was placed under house arrest for three months yesterday, as Islamabad issued warrants for the detention of eight other leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, sealing some of its offices across the country and freezing Pakistani banks associated with the outfit. The move risks a violent backlash by the group but it eases the massive international pressure on Islamabad to act against militants based on its soil.

“The government has decided to proscribe Jamaat-ud-Dawa,” said information minister Sherry Rehman. The Pakistani authorities were reacting to a UN security council decision passed late on Wednesday to put Jamaat-ud-Dawa on a terrorist list, along with Saeed and three other members. The group claims it was an Islamic charity unrelated to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant organisation that is blamed for the Mumbai carnage, but the UN dismissed this as a ruse.

Despite the repeated claims of JuD Amir Hafiz Saeed that his Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charity when faced with charges of terrorism, the same group publicly projects militancy and jihad. Posting on Twitter earlier this year, JuD called on Allah to “annihilate” the US.

Video taken at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa rally shows chants of “The answer for American invasion is jihad!” “What is relationship with Lashkar-e-Taiba? Lailahailallah!” “What is relationship with Jamaat-ud-Dawa? Lailahailallah!” “Only one cure for America – jihad! jihad!”

An article in The Independent (UK) describes Abdul Rahman, a teacher at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa school in Muridke as a militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and says the claim that JuD is a charity is discredited.

After he returned to Pakistan, Rahman would tell the story of his adventures to young students at an Islamic school in Muridke, 15 miles north of Lahore, run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity. That he was able to move so easily between being a mountain guerrilla of Lashkar-e-Toiba and a teacher of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, discredits the latter’s repeated claim that it is a charitable organisation involved only in running schools, clinics and providing relief to the victims of earthquakes such as a recent one in Baluchistan. Instead, there is convincing evidence that it is a front group and a servicing organisation for the fighters of the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.

When the US announced a $10 million bounty for information that could be used to arrest and convict Hafiz Saeed, the JuD chief again preached violence while raising funds for jihad.

In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

It is unclear why Sabir Shah chose to single out Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa for special treatment in his report while merely listing the names of others. It could be due to his fame, but then why would he need an explanation? What is more problematic is the characterisation of Jamaat-ud-Dawa as ‘internationally renowned charity’.Whether Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved in relief work is without question. But that does not mean that this is the only work that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved with. Army engages in a lot of relief work, but no one would term the Army as a “charity”. The fact is that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not only placed on UN terror blacklist, but was banned by the Goverment in 2008. By terming JuD as “a charity”, The News can confuse readers about the true nature of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. This may be the way Hafiz Saeed would like his group to be referred to, but journalists owe their readers more than simply parroting the claims of the subjects they are reporting.

Is Hafiz Saeed ‘de-radicalising’ militants?

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Hafiz Saeed speaking at rally

The headline has been repeated so often and in every newspaper that it is hard not to escape it. ‘Hafiz Saeed helping de-radicalise militants’, the bold print reads. That this report comes just days after the US offered a whopping $10 million bounty for information that can be used to arrest the Jamaat ud Dawa chief is surely no coincidence. Despite the repeated headline, though, there appears to be more to the story than first meets the eye.

As with recent stories about Dana Rohrabacher supporting Baloch insurgents, reading past the sensationalist headline reveals important information. In the case of the story about Hafiz Saeed de-radicalising militants, there is an item buried in the report that should be noted.

“Yahya Mujahid, the JuD spokesman, said the group had not participated in the de-radicalisation programme.”

An unknown official claims that Hafiz Saeed is helping de-radicalise militants, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s spokesman says this is a lie. Which makes headlines? Why is the anonymous claim published in bold letters, while the official claim of JuD is given only one passing mention near the end of the report?

Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether the mysterious official or the JuD spokesman is telling the truth. As journalists, we might consider asking Hafiz Saeed himself, or at least looking at his public statements for some clue.

In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

A popular propaganda technique is to repeat a lie so often that people accept that it is the truth. We have no way of knowing whether Hafiz Saeed is or is not helping de-radicalise militants. But Jamaat-ud-Dawa says they are doing no such thing, and Hafiz Saeed openly is raising funds for jihad. Maybe those are facts worth considering.

Media Under Siege

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

On Monday’s Capital Talk, Hamid Mir reviewed a clip from the Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s rally in Karachi on Sunday. At issue was something that has become a troubling trend in Pakistan – threats to journalists.

For those who do not understand Urdu, please allow me to explain. The clip that Hamid Mir played shows Qari Sheikh Yaqoob speaking from the Difa-e-Pakistan Council stage. Yaqoob is leader of Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, a spinoff group of Jamaat-ud-Dawa that called for the death of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer. Here is what he said on Sunday:

I am announcing this with extreme sadness that media is working extremely coldly and this decorating of cameras here is merely an attempt to fool the Difa council. And, know this that masters should listen also that if you can show full coverage of anti-state powers, you will have to give full coverage to the patriots here or else this ground will be made into the media graveyard.

Hamid Mir expresses serious concern about this threat. Some have tried to downplay Qari Sheikh Yaqoob’s comments by saying that he was just asking the media to give equal airtime to the views of DPC. But Yaqoob’s threats are taken seriously, and this one was accompanied by another incident earlier the same weekend.

On Saturday, Wajahat S Khan interviewed former DG ISI Lt Gen Hameed Gul who has been involved with DPC and attended its rallies. Wajahat was pressuring Gen Saheb about the involvement of ‘outlaw groups’ in DPC.

For the first time in the interview, around 10 minutes in, Gul struggled, outright rejecting the claim that Malik Ishaq was at the Multan rally. As we tend to do in our show, evidence was promptly presented. A screen shot of The Express Tribune, with Ishaq in living colour at the Multan stage, was displayed on our monitor, and Gul struggled some more. Doing what he does best, Gul upped the ante, claiming that the Tribune’s pics were doctored. I challenged him, defending the Tribune’s reporting standards. He counter-challenged, and said it was not the paper, rather the reporter who was lying. I rebutted, and hence we moved on. Around this part of the show’s broadcast, the call came.

He didn’t say hello. He knew my name and my address. He kept it short, and told me exactly what he would do to my body parts when he was done detaching them. He then hung up. That was caller one.

But that was just the bad cop routine. The good cops, several of them, came knocking with a flurry of text messages. One of them started off by asking why I was siding with India. My reply was that I was not siding with any collective, and in fact had brought up the disturbing statistic of India’s arms expenditures with Gul, asking the former ISI chief what he and the DPC were doing besides screaming murder about matching the $100 billion dollars that the Indians plan on weapons procurement spending over the next decade. He pinged back after a few minutes, concentrating his grammar on the imaginings between my mother and some animals. The other good cops started in similar vein, one of them asking me whether I had learnt my English in America. Seeing where this could lead to, I didn’t respond. That action further lit up my afternoon, as references to pre-Islamic debauchery, disasters and disease continued to flash on my phone. No names were offered, but when my address and location was confirmed, again and again, I pressed the panic button.

The international NGO Committee to Protect Journalists has taken notice of threats, but ultimately they can only bring attention to the issue. They cannot defend journalists who find themselves out of favour with militants.

In the case of Wajahat Khan, he was advised to “move for the night” and asked if could “handle a weapon”. A truly free media does not require journalist to take up arms to defend themselves. That’s a media under siege.

Charitable Reporting on Militants

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Charity workers of Jamaat-ud-Dawa

Charity workers of Jamaat-ud-Dawa

An article hosted by SAMAA offers some fairly charitable reporting on banned group Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The article, ‘Kashmiri leader rejects Pakistan-India trade pact reports that hardline Kashmiri separatists oppose efforts to normalise trade relations between Pakistan and India. But reading closely, one will find an interesting passage.

SamaaAt first glance, the article is unremarkable. One would easily expect Syed Ali Geelani to reject any dealings with India. Where the article gets interesting, however, is when readers learn about other political leaders who are also criticising the trade pact.

Raja Farooq Haider, Convener of Pakistan Muslim League-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity linked to the Mumbai attacks, assured support to Geelani.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks killed 166 people.

This raises the immediate question, what kind of ‘charity’ is linked to a terrorist attack that kills 166 people? Jamaat-ud-Dawa was added to the UN terror blacklist in 2008. An article in The Independent (UK) from that same year describes Abdul Rahman, a teacher at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa school in Muridke as an LeT militant.

After he returned to Pakistan, Rahman would tell the story of his adventures to young students at an Islamic school in Muridke, 15 miles north of Lahore, run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity. That he was able to move so easily between being a mountain guerrilla of Lashkar-e-Toiba and a teacher of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, discredits the latter’s repeated claim that it is a charitable organisation involved only in running schools, clinics and providing relief to the victims of earthquakes such as a recent one in Baluchistan. Instead, there is convincing evidence that it is a front group and a servicing organisation for the fighters of the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.

Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi did tell NDTV in 2008 that his group was not involved in the 26/11 attacks, but added a strange qualification to his claim, saying that he would admit ‘mistakes’ if anyone could prove them.

He claimed his group was not involved in the Mumbai carnage but said his organisation would admit its mistakes provided it was proved that it was in any way linked to the attacks, which left a trail of death and destruction.

Whether Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved in relief work is without question. But that does not mean that this is the only work that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved with. Army engages in a lot of relief work, but no one would term the Army as a “charity”. The fact is that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not only placed on UN terror blacklist, but was banned by the Goverment in 2008. By terming JuD as “a charity”, SAMAA can confuse readers about the true nature of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. This may be the way Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi would like his group to be referred to, but journalists owe their readers more than simply parroting the claims of the subjects they are reporting.

Geo Projecting Terrorism?

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Earlier this year, PEMRA fined two TV channels for projecting terrorists/outlaws when they aired an interview with the assassin Mumtaz Qadri. Now, the following advertisement is being made by Geo TV.

Hafiz Saeed interview on GEO

Notice that the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder is quick to say, “we are against all sorts of terrorism.” Of course sympathisers will claim that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is but a humble charity organisation. But if this is true, why in his next breath does he claim “we are the A-team of the Army” that is “against US invasions”? And here we thought that SSG was A-team of the Army. What type of charity organisation claims to be militant commandoes?

The important question here, though, is why Geo TV is inviting as its guest Hafiz Saeed who is classified as an international terrorist by the UN and Interpol? Freedom of speech does not mean free microphones, and freedom of media does not mean that Geo is obligated to provide a platform for Hafiz Saeed to spread his views. So why is Geo choosing to do this? Is it declaring an ideological sympathy with militants?

As for PEMRA, a gentle reminder:

PEMRA Code of Conduct for Media Broadcasters/Cable TV Operators states that:

(1) No programme shall be aired which:

(e) is likely to encourage and incite violence or contains anything
against maintenance of law and order or which promotes antinational or anti-state attitudes…

(o) contains material which may be detrimental to Pakistan’s relations
with friendly countries…

Evidence That Advertising Is Driving PR For Banned Organizations?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Recently we noted that Daily Nawa-i-Waqt was accepting advertising from a banned group, Jamaat ud Dawa. We asked whether accepting advertising from banned groups would affect the reporting or editorial stance of the newspaper such as leading to articles that are sympathetic to or supportive of this group? The answer may be showing itself.

A page two column from Nawa-i-Waqt on Tuesday highlighted a claim that Jamaat ud Dawa “has made over 1 million suits for flood victims”. A staff reporter went on to report that JuD is providing milk packets to 7,000 children.

As shown in previous posts, this is a very small amount of aid to flood victims compared to that being organized and delivered by non-political NGOs as well as the government and military.

This blog has observed recently that some journalists, either unwittingly or for pay, appear to be providing PR for banned organizations. We have seen such examples in both English language and Urdu news media, including in The News (Jang), The Nation, Dawn, Daily Khabrian and now Nawa-i-Waqt.

Since Nawa-i-Waqt has also accepted advertising for banned groups, the question must be asked whether these illegal organizations are using advertising or PR methods to influence media coverage, or if the continued praise of illegal organizations reflects certain political bias by editors and reporters at these newspapers.

Newspaper Accepts Paid Advertisements From Banned Groups

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Daily Nawa-i-WaqtBanned group Jamaat ud Dawa has paid newspapers for advertising space – and the newspapers accepted the offer. This raises further questions around the topic of media priorities that we began discussing last week.

Daily Nawa-i-waqt ran a large paid advertisement signed by Hafiz Saeed for Jamaat ud Dawa that says,

Responsible people and members of JuD, help the flood victims on a preferential basis.

While the advertisement appears to be asking people to give money to help flood victims, it is actually promoting the banned organization. It does this in two ways:

First, the advertisement makes a direct connection between the victims of the flood and the relief efforts of JuD despite the fact that JuD has provided only a marginal amount of support for flood victims, and that ignores the broader mission of the organization which is to spread an extremist version of Islam.

Second, the advertisement suggests that the best way to help flood victims is to give financial contributions to JuD rather than to government efforts or apolitical NGOs operating on the ground. This, despite the fact that such an act is illegal as JuD is a banned organization whose accounts have been frozen, despite their continuing to operate openly. Furthermore, the fact that JuD’s accounts have been frozen raises the question of how the advertisement was paid for – did Nawa-i-Waqt accept cash, or was the advertisement provided ‘pro bono’ or complimentary?

Whatever the situation, it is worth questioning what it means about the priorities of newspapers like Nawa-i-Waqt who will accept advertising from banned organizations.

According to Gillian Dyer, advertising has a direct influence on the editorial environment of a newspaper. (Advertising as communication, Volume 1982, Part 2, p.67)

Advertisers will look for the right editorial environment as well as the right readers when they buy space. From this we might conclude that any criticism of an advertiser’s business activities will be avoided in the editorial sections of newspapers.

A 2008 paper by Kelly E. Campbell titled, Advertiser Influence on News Media: A Literature Review concludes that there editors and journalists are aware of this pressure.

Clearly, editors and journalists perceive there to be advertiser pressure. Given the
amount of research that has examined advertiser influence from the news organization’s
perspective, it would be interesting to examine how advertisers themselves perceive their
role in influencing editorial content.

Gillian Dyer’s book concludes that,

Advertisers play a major part in shaping society’s values, habits and direction. They are also partly responsible for influencing the character and development of the media system…Newspapers and magazines are increasingly forced into creating the right ‘editorial environment’ for advertisers, and in addition we can see a growing polarization between popular and quality newspapers.

With this in mind, we must ask what the act of accepting advertising by a banned organization says about the priorities and editorial stance of Nawa-i-Waqt. If the newspaper accepted payment for the advertisement, how has that affected their stance on organizations operating illegally in the country? If they provided the advertisement without charge, are they then demonstrating their support for the illegal organization?

Already some reporters have pointed to news media providing PR for banned groups. Is this yet another example? And what does that tell us about what the agenda of these newspapers?

Research shows that advertising has an influence on reporting and editorial positions. Typically, this may be a subtle effect such as not wanting to write too much about a corporate scandal if the company is a large advertiser. When it comes to banned organization like JuD, though, real questions emerge about what the newspaper’s priorities are and whether the advertising accepted is having some influence on the editorial positions and reporting in the newspaper.

Are Some Journalists Providing PR For Banned Groups?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Are some journalists, either unwittingly or for pay, providing PR for banned militant groups? That is a question raised by Gulmina Bilal Ahmad in today’s Daily Times, and one that bears close examination.

Gulmina takes to task reporter Yousaf Ali from The News for an article he wrote last week claiming that “Islamic charities most effective in relief activities”.

If I were associated with an ‘Islamic’ charity, I would file a suit against the reporter because he goes on to mention organisations that are old wines in new bottles. In other words, banned militant organisations operating under new names. There are a number of Islamic charities that are doing excellent work and do not use militant ways and means. They are funded not by mafias, crime and drug money as the militant organisations are, and have transparent, audited accounts.

The reporter is supposed to report, not give an opinion. Opinions are reserved for the op-ed pages. However, in the said news story, in the very title, the reporter has given his considered opinion. Throughout the four-column story, he fails to establish what is the basis of his sweeping conclusion displayed prominently in the heading.

Clearly, there is a problem raised by the fact that the author makes a bold claim that is not supported by the facts presented in his reporting. The reporter may believe that his claim is true – in fact, the claim could be true – but without providing evidence to support the claim, the reporter is wrong in making it.

But even the reporters claims are questionable. Yousaf Ali writes that,

Cooked food has been distributed among 0.25 million so far, while 23,046 packages were distributed among 161,322 families, the handout stated.

But according to Daily Mail News, the US has sent over 77,000 food packets for flood victims.

Talking to a privet television channel, the NDMA chairman said that they had demanded 380,000 food packets from the US for the flood stricken people in the country. He said the US sent a first batch of 77,000 food packets through C-130 plane which had been dispatched to affected areas.

Nadeem Ahmad said that another 43,000 boxes were expected to reach soon. “The US has assured of more cooperation to ease the miseries of people,” he said. Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson announced that the US government is continuing to send assistance for flood relief efforts in Pakistan. “The United States supports Pakistan’s emergency relief efforts on behalf of people affected by recent monsoon floods,” she said.

Surely Mr Ali knows that 77,000 is more than 23,046. So why does he ignore such facts in his article?

Gulima suspects a bit of spot-fixing going on at Jang Group’s English newspaper:

The news story further goes on to declare that the “most effective among the Islamic charities” is “the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation which is linked with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)”. The reporter clearly is aware of the way the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation is linked with the JuD. Is the reporter not aware then that the JuD is a banned organisation? As if the heading of the news story was not enough, the reporter, to really imprint it in the reader’s mind, further states, “much discussed in the international media, the Falah-e-Insaniat is another major contributor in the relief activities”.

Since, in this space, I am clearly asked to give my opinion, I will venture to state that it seems to be a paid, placed piece to do some damage control and spin some ‘feel good’ stories about the Falah-e-Insaniat, given the fact that “much has been written in the international media” about it.

Banned organizations are well known to change their names in order to avoid being closed down. Despite this, they are well known. They are also being praised by some in the media – as evidenced by Yousaf Ali’s column as well as articles in The Nation, and Dawn.

And this is not an issue that appears only in English media, of course.

Leading English newspapers do not have the monopoly over promoting irresponsible reporting nor is the militant media confined only to English. Just this week, an Urdu paper prominently displayed a statement of Hafiz Saeed, head of JuD, claiming that “there is no al Qaeda”. If there is no al Qaeda, then how is it that there is a group that has, to date, claimed responsibility for global terrorism attacks? Another question that begs to be answered is what is the basis for this claim of Mr Hafiz Saeed?

Just yesterday, Urdu newspaper Daily Khabrian included an article claiming that “foreign hands” were involved in the Lahore attacks. The evidence for this conspiracy? A statement from Rana Munir of Pakistan Muslim Rajput Federation.

The reporter for Daily Khabrian did not feel it necessary to ask how Rana Munir knew of such a conspiracy, and the newspaper’s editors did not (as evidenced by the publication of the article) feel it necessary to ask why such a statement by Rana Munir was significant enough to be a priority for publication. All of this despite the fact that banned group Lashker-e-Jhangvi claiming responsibility for the attacks.

These articles raise important questions: How is it that banned groups are getting a disproportionate amount of positive press coverage for the relief work that they are doing? Why do media outlets continue to publish conspiracy theories absolving banned groups from responsibility for attacks – even after the groups admit responsibility? And why do major news outlets like The News (Jang), The Nation, and Dawn consider it a priority to publish articles praising the work of banned groups over others?