From AsiaTimes (thanks to Lek) comes this profile of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir group, one of the leading global exponents of the ideological jihad:
KARACHI – From the shores of the Caspian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, there are violent reactionaries in the Muslim world who will kill and get killed, but beyond these fanatics there exists a real hardcore silently swaying the hearts and minds of many in the Muslim world.
Their religion is not obvious from their demeanor or the cut of their clothes, yet it is embedded in the very core of their hearts, and is the driving force behind all their actions.
They are an overwhelming emerging force, and even though they have been widely banned, they don’t believe in retaliation. They have made a hub in Pakistan, where they outnumber many large religious parties, yet they remain difficult to pinpoint as they are political, but have been forced underground. They are the largest single movement in the Islamic world, the Liberation Party – Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).
In in the mid-1990s, a large conference was held in London, where the topic was the revival of a caliphate in the Muslim world for the “implementation of pure Islamic doctrine”, as is the goal of the HT. The conference was attended by delegates from around the world, and a key question was to determine an ideal place for the Islamic revolution. Many agreed on Pakistan, a land of valiant Muslim tribes that have traditionally responded enthusiastically to Islamic issues. And strategically, the country is well situated to embrace the Asian sub-continent and Central Asia – where initially the caliphate will be created.
Subsequently, hundreds of HT members, British but of Pakistani origin, many of them students at the London School of Economics and other centers of excellence, packed their bags and departed for Pakistan. By 2000, the HT had established itself in all urban centers of the country, but within three years it was banned. All police stations were given strict instructions to round up any person who claimed an association with the HT.
Hundreds of HT members were rounded up, and may reports of torture emerged. Of those produced in court, the only charges that were made to stick were those related to being a member of the HT.
This correspondent has spoken to senior Pakistani officials on the reason for the HT being banned, but none of them appears to have a clue – especially as the HT does not espouse violence or militancy.
HT members have even been encouraged by the authorities to change the name of the organization, as most other banned outfits do so that they can carry on with their activities, but the HT has refused to do so.
Pakistan, especially as a leading ally in the US “war on terror”, has been urged by international intelligence agencies to continue cracking down on the HT. President General Pervez Musharraf has visited the United Kingdom and publicly advised parents to beware of the HT and keep their children away from its influence.
There follows an interview with HT’s Naveed Butt. Read it all.