This is not only very effective; it is confusing for many people. After all, these are wonderful fellows; how could they be mixed up in anything unsavory? I have spoken with far too many people from Middle Eastern countries who say the same sort of thing about Hamas and Hizballah — after all, they run schools and feed little children. What do you mean, they’re murderous thugs? “Islamist Extremists Gain Upper Hand in Kashmir Relief Efforts,” from Der Spiegel, with thanks to DFS:
Islamic extremists are trying to win over the hearts and minds of earthquake victims in Pakistani Kashmir. Their efforts come at a convenient time for the Pakistani government.
The people of Kashmir just call them “the militants,” and 25-year-old Mohammed Maqsood is one of them. His beard is dark and long, and his head is covered with a Palestinian scarf. He refuses to shake women’s hands, and he never looks directly at their faces when he addresses them.
Men like Maqsood were the first aid workers to arrive in the disaster zone on the morning of Saturday, October 8, when a devastating earthquake struck the Kashmir region. All were well-trained young men, and all were bearded.
They conducted systematic searches for survivors in the rubble of ruined buildings, often digging with their bare hands. In the first two days following the earthquake, the bearded young men seemed to be the only ones with a well-functioning network — both in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani state of Azad Kashmir, and in the completely devastated settlements of Bagh and Balakot. Many local residents owe their lives to these aid workers.
Today Maqsood is the acting director of the Al-Rahmat Trust Camp, a refugee camp for earthquake victims in central Muzaffarabad. Al-Rahmat is loosely translated as “Mercy.” It’s an open secret that the organization is the civilian wing of a banned guerilla organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed. Jaish-e-Muhammad, or “Army of Muhammad,” and its fighters are battling Indian security forces in the Indian section of Kashmir in an effort to “liberate” the Indian-held side of the Kashmir Valley.