A newly-released WikiLeaks cable has revealed that Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi could be financing a Pakistan-based anti-India terror group , Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has made common cause with Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The cable, which is based on information received from a Deobandi scholar and a “long-standing” contact of the US consulate in Lahore, said Sipah leader Mulana Ludhianvi travelled to Libya on a fundraising trip sponsored by the Libyan government.
As per the cable dated March 20, 2009, the Deobandi scholar revealed to US principal officer Bryan Hunt in the Lahore consulate that Ludhianvi had made contact with Libyan officials in the guise of working against Iran and Shias in Pakistan. Sipah had originated as a violent anti-Shia organization and is known to have received funds from Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia.
The scholar told the US official that Ludhianvi was scheduled to return to Pakistan in a few days and was bringing with him a “donation” from the Libyan government valued at nearly 25 million Pakistani rupees (approximately $312,000). The scholar said he was certain that this money would be used to increase Sipah’s activities. The scholar, in fact, had met the US official to talk abut the organisation’s increasing activities in Faisalabad.
The scholar is described by the US official as having numerous ties within the broader Deobandi community and as “well-positioned to obtain information on activities of Deobandi-linked terrorist/extremist groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed”.
India had earlier joined Germany, Russia, China and Brazil in not backing the UN Security Council resolution which authorized no-fly zone over Libya and facilitated strikes against its ground troops. Unlike Germany though, India has not emphasized on the need for Gaddafi to relinquish power and has only called for an immediate ceasefire.
It has sought to align itself with the African Union’s ceasefire plan that calls for a political solution and a transition period for organizing elections. During PM Manmohan Singh’s recent trip to Africa, Indian officials said New Delhi favoured a swift resumption of the political process in the country.
The cable also said Sipah-e-Sahaba was increasing its activities in Punjab’s Faisalabad in collaboration with elements of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and a splinter group of Jaish-e-Mohammed. The scholar conveyed to the US his belief that this increase coincided with a number of visits to Faisalabad from activists of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The cable described the Deobandi scholar as a “long-standing contact” of the US consulate Lahore who visited the US earlier as part of the International Visitor Leadership Programme. It said the scholar repeatedly credits his trip to the US and particularly his discussions with Muslim leaders there for changing his previously anti-Western views. TOI