COMMENTARY | Reuters reports that a cell phone recovered during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound included contact numbers for members of Harkat-ul-Majahideen. For years, there have been rumors of ties between Harkat-ul-Majahideen and the Pakistani government intelligence system. This opens up an interesting can of worms for the United States.
Harkat-ul-Majahideen is a group that has been known for kidnapping, assassinations and the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814. President George Bush considered them a threat back in 2001, though they still operate to this day. If direct connections can be made between HUM and bin Laden outside of the phone numbers, the United States would find itself in yet another Catch-22 in the Middle East.
On one hand, we know that the United States military wants to do whatever it can to snuff out every possible terrorist cell that it stumbles upon. If members of Harkat-ul-Majahideen assisted in hiding bin Laden, the military is going to want to set the group in their sites. It would have to be assumed that if members of the group knew where bin Laden was hiding, they might have information on other terrorist leaders. This would make them a prime target.
As I mentioned earlier, Harkat-ul-Majahideen has supposedly held relations with the ISI. This is the Pakistani top intelligence agency. This agency is one of the groups that was offended the most when the attack was made by the military on the bin Laden compound without notification. The United States government has made it clear that it wants to ensure that the relations with Pakistan are strengthened, not disturbed by military activity.
It would come down to two options. If the military and CIA do what it can to snuff out Harkat-ul-Majahideen it will run the risk of placing another strain on the relationship with Pakistan. If the relationship with Pakistan is primary, the military might risk losing critical information to assist with the War on Terror and lose the chance of eliminating another potential threat.
With the recent track record in Pakistan, I would expect at least one event to happen in connection with Harkat-ul-Majahideen. I would expect any informants or potential informants to be arrested. Remember, this is the country that states that it is tough on terrorism but will arrest people for doing their part.