Expressing concerns over the growing influence of Jamat-e-Islami in South Asia, US Congressman Jim Banks said that much of the violence in Kashmir is linked to the organizations related to the proscribed religious outfit and its affiliates.
Addressing a seminar hosted by the Middle East Forum here in association with South Asia Minorities Alliance Foundation and other influential think tanks on Wednesday, Banks said, "Jamat-e-Islami is especially operating in South Asia with its violent factions found in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a violent, theocratic group that has committed violent acts against minority Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Ahmadis."
Jim Banks stressed that there is a lack of awareness and action by the US against the activities of the Jamat-e-Islami.
"Through violent actions, they (the JI) seek to silence the voices of others and discourage participation in democracy. Much of the violence in Kashmir is linked to the organizations related to Jamat-e-Islami and its terrorist partners," he added.
The lawmaker said that the JI continues to grow its influence in South Asia, and today has been operating on a large scale with multiple international partners. Referring to the activities of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the US lawmaker from Indiana said that organisation is a partner group of Jamat-e-Islami within the US.
"We must prevent the spread of this threat before it starts impacting Americans at home. I introduced HR-160 resolution earlier this year, and this bipartisan resolution calls on USAID and State Department to refrain from any partnership with organizations affiliated with radical Islamist groups," Banks said.
In his address, South Asia Minority Alliance Chairman (SAMAC) Nadeem Nusrat described the striking similarities between the religious ideologies of Egypt-based Ikhuan-ul-Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood) and Jamat-e-Islami. He said that both outfits emerged soon after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 during the British control of India and Egypt.
Nusrat noted that the leadership of both organizations deem the emergence of their respective outfit as a response to domestic affairs and began by calling for the unity among local Muslims. He also shed light on how both outfits adopted a similar message and strategy to extend their global reach.
Nusrat, who also heads Washington DC-based Voice of Karachi, particularly elaborated on the ideology, working, and the reach of the JI. He said that no other religious group did more to radicalise Pakistan religiously than the JI. This group also played an abhorring role to suppress the freedom movement in the former East Pakistan, where JI affiliated terror groups, al-Badr and al-Shams, actively participated along with Pakistani military in the massacre of nearly 3 million Bengalis.
Nusrat further said that soon after the imposition of Martial Law in remaining Pakistan in July 1977, Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan found a reliable partner in General Zia-ul-Haq. Using the Afghan war in the late 1970s and the early 1980s as a perfect opportunity to achieve their respective objectives, they both not only religiously radicalized Pakistani military but also turned the country into a theocratic state which forged strong alliances with jihadists worldwide.
He asserted that it is hard to overstate the role of JI in exporting terrorism and sustaining global jihad. For instance, he said, several terrorists linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA were arrested from the homes of JI leaders in Pakistan. It is an irony that despite JI and MB's avowed claim about restoring the lost pride of the Muslim Ummah, none has caused more harm to Muslims and Islam in the last few decades than these two outfits.
He said that their thoughtless, intolerant, and anachronistic ideologies have led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims and displaced millions besides making Islam synonymous with terrorism and intolerance. While combating terrorism indeed requires a collective global effort, the main challenge to this menace should come from within. It is the foremost responsibility of every secular, moderate, and enlightened Muslim to stand up to these extremist forces and protect religious minorities in their countries
In her address, Abha Shankar of the Washington DC-based Investigative Project on Terrorism presented the findings of her organization's extensive research about the close links between Jamat-e-Islami and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
South Asia expert Seth Oldmixon also highlighted the role of JI in promoting and exporting religious extremism and terrorism on a global scale and warned of the dangers of ignoring the activities of JI and its affiliates in North America.
Washington DC, Director of Middle East Forum Sam Westrop highlighted the practices employed by JI affiliates in Europe in promoting religious extremism among Muslim diaspora. He pointed out that European states failed to timely assess the scale of dangers posed by these groups to their societies and are now paying the price. Repeating the same mistake in North America would bring the same results with the same devastating consequences, he concluded.