As Modi visits United States, sanctions imposed on militant commander Syed Salahuddin

Muhammad Yusuf Shah aka Syed Salahuddin

Srinagar: The United States State Department on Monday designated Kashmiri militant leader and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Salahuddin as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGT) and imposed sanctions on him.

Muhammad Yusuf Shah aka Syed Salahuddin is the leader of the indigenous and largest militant group that “fights against Indian rule over Kashmir”.

The development came just hours ahead of the scheduled meeting between visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.

He was designated a “terrorist” “under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (EO) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons who have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals” or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, said a release issued from the US State Department.

According to US State Department, the move will prohibits US citizens from engaging in transactions with Salahuddin.

They also said the designation may put a block on Salahuddin’s property and interests in property which lies under US jurisdiction.

They further added the designation will help in exposing and isolating “organisations and individuals associated with global terrorism”.

Syed Salahuddin, the Hizb ul Mujahideen chief is based in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

The designation will also lead to restriction from accessing US financial system, according to the statement. “Designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other nations,” the State Department added.

The State Department statement said that in September 2016, Salahuddin had vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers and vowed to turn the Kashmir Valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces”.

The US says the militant group has claimed responsibility for several attacks.

Salahuddin, 71, has five sons and two daughters who live in the Kashmir valley.

He hails from central Kashmir’s Budgam district, and had moved to Pakistan administered Kashmir in or around 1989 after he contested the Kashmir Assembly elections on a Muslim United Front (MUF) ticket in 1987.

Salahuddin finished his Masters in Political Science at Srinagar University in 1971, where he wrote several poems.

He later jointed Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) after concluding his education and contested state elections in 1987.

He was arrested from inside the ticket counting hall in Srinagar and eventually released in 1989.

The MUF alleged widespread rigging of polls by the NC-Congress alliance led by Dr Farooq Abdullah.

He formed and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen.

Along with Hizb ul Mujahideen, Salahuddin also leads the United Jihad Council (UJC), which is a conglomerate of many militant outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir since mid-1990s.

He hailed Burhan Wani as a ‘martyr’, and promised to turn the Kashmir valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces.”

On Monday, the UJC chief issued a week-long calendar on the death anniversary of Burhan whose killing on July 08, 2016 triggered a massive anti-India uprising during which armed forces shot dead over hundred civilians.

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