Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999
The United States Department of State fingers South Asia as Hub for
International Terrorism. May 1, 2000.
Throughout the year, the Taliban continued to host Usama Bin
Ladin--indicted in November 1998 for the bombings of two US Embassies in East
Africa--despite US and UN sanctions, a unanimously adopted United Security
Council resolution, and other international pressure to deliver him to stand
trial in the United States or a third country. The United States repeatedly
made clear to the Taliban that they will be held responsible for any terrorist
acts undertaken by Bin Ladin while he is in their territory.
In early December, Jordanian authorities arrested members of a cell linked
to Bin Ladin's al-Qaida organization--some of whom had undergone explosives
and weapons training in Afghanistan--who were planning terrorist operations
against Western tourists visiting holy sites in Jordan over the millennium
On 25 December the Taliban permitted hijacked Indian Airlines flight 814 to
land at Qandahar airport after refusing it permission to land the previous
day. The hijacking ended on 31 December when the Indian Government released
from prison three individuals linked to Kashmiri militant groups in return for
the release of the passengers aboard the aircraft. The hijackers, who had
murdered one of the Indian passengers during the course of the incident, were
allowed to go free. The Taliban stated that the hijackers, who reportedly are
Kashmiri militants, would leave Afghanistan even if they were unable to obtain
political asylum from another country. Their whereabouts remained unknown at
Credible reports continued to indicate official Pakistani support for
Kashmiri militant groups that engage in terrorism, such as the Harakat
ul-Mujahidin (HUM). The hijackers of the Air India flight reportedly belong to
one of these militant groups. One of the HUM leaders, Maulana Masood Azhar,
was freed from an Indian prison in exchange for the hostages on the aircraft
in the Air India hijacking in December and has since returned to Pakistan.
Kashmiri extremist groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds
and recruiting new cadre. The groups were responsible for numerous terrorist
attacks in 1999 against civilian targets in India-held Kashmir and elsewhere
in India. Pakistani officials from both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's
government and, after his removal by the military, General Pervez Musharraf's
regime publicly stated that Pakistan provided diplomatic, political, and moral
support for "freedom fighters" in Kashmir--including the terrorist
group Harakat ul-Mujahidin--but denied providing the militants training or
On 12 November, shortly after the United Nations authorized sanctions
against the Taliban, but before the sanctions were implemented, unidentified
terrorists launched a coordinated rocket attack against the US Embassy, the
American center, and possibly UN offices in Islamabad. The attacks caused no
fatalities but injured a guard and damaged US facilities.
Sectarian and political violence remained a problem in 1999 as Sunni and
Shia extremists conducted attacks against each other, primarily in Punjab
Province, and as rival wings of an ethnic party feuded in Karachi. Pakistan
experienced a particularly strong wave of such attacks across the country in
August and September. Domestic violence dropped significantly after the
military coup on 12 October.
In the wake of US diplomatic intervention to end the Kargil conflict that
broke out in April between Pakistan and India, several Pakistani and Kashmiri
extremist groups stridently denounced US interference and activities.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Islami leaders, for example, reacted to US diplomacy in the
region by harshly and publicly berating US efforts to bring wanted terrorist
Usama Bin Ladin, who is based in Afghanistan, to justice for his role in the
1998 US Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The imposition of US
sanctions on 14 November against Afghanistan's Taliban for its continued
support for Bin Ladin drew a similar response.