Three members of Congress have called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the Islamist ties of the newly appointed ambassador from Pakistan who, in 2020, called on the U.S. to release a terrorist convicted of trying to kill American troops.
In a letter sent on Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Scott Perry (R-Penn), Mary Miller (R-Ill), and Greg Steube (R-Fla.) asked Garland to investigate Masood Khan’s relationships with a number of Islamist groups in Pakistan which the lawmakers fear represent a threat to U.S. national security.
On Jan. 27, 2022, Perry sent a letter to the Biden Administration calling on the President to reject Khan’s diplomatic credentials “in light of Khan’s perverse attachment to Islamic terrorism.”
The Hindu American Foundation also sent a letter to the Biden Administration objecting to Khan’s nomination on Feb. 4, 2022. This letter stated in part that “Khan’s record is not just one of taking the side of his country, but one of specific, overt support for members of US designated terrorist organizations.”
The Biden Administration approved Khan’s nomination over these objections.
In the letter sent this week, the lawmakers declared that if the Biden Administration is willing to provide Khan with a diplomatic visa, “the American People deserve – at the very least – the due diligence from our Government for a thorough investigation and answers.”
The controversy over Khan’s appointment, which has generated substantial coverage in Indian news outlets and anger from the Hindu community in the U.S, is rooted the ambassador’s role in fomenting anti-Indian sentiment in the U.S., his ties to Islamist charities that have openly affiliated with terrorists in Southeast Asia and his praise for terrorist organizations in Southeast Asia.
In 2021, while serving as President of the Pakistani state of Azad Kashmir, Khan expressed over the 2016 death of Burhan Wani, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), which the U.S. State Department has designated in 2017 as a terrorist organization because of attacks on civilians at an election rally and an open-air market.
“We grieve today for Burhan Wani. . . . He lives on . . . in our hearts. He sacrificed his life for a cause,” Khan said. Before his death, Wani recruited Kashmiris to “join the holy war” against India, offering the “promise of a fulfilled life hereafter.”
Khan objected to the U.S. State Department 2017 decision to designate HM a terrorist organization, expressing full support for the organization. “Ignoring the genocide of Kashmiris by Indian army and declaring freedom fighters as terrorists is a criminal departure from international humanitarian and democratic norms by the U.S.,” he said.
Pakistan’s current ambassador to the U.S. also compared India to the Nazis in a 2020 press release in which, accusing Prime Minister Narenda Modi of imposing Nuremburg like laws to quell violence in Kashmir.
The lawmakers expressed alarm over Khan’s support for Friends of Kashmir, a group that claims to work out of the Pakistani consulate in Houston and which is accused of ties to Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), a group responsible for the Mumbai attacks which resulted in the deaths of 166 people in 2008.
In their letter to Garland, the lawmakers report that Khan met with the leaders of Friends of Kashmir after the organization hosted an event with two operatives with ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.
In the letter, based on the research of Middle East Forum staffer Sam Westrop, the lawmakers also raised concerns over Khan’s praise for Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Islamist charity which has partnered with LeT in Pakistan and is a subsidiary of the Islamic Circle of North America, which Professor Vali Nasr at Johns Hopkins University has declared a part of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organization involved in the mass killings during the Bangladeshi War for Independence.
“Given the Ambassador’s unusual closeness to the aforementioned Islamist groups,” the letter states, “we request an investigation into the nature of Mr. Khan’s relationships with them.”
Seth Oldmixon, founder of Liberty South Asia, which promotes religious freedom and political pluralism in the region, said Pakistan’s decision to send Khan as its ambassador to the U.S. raises serious concerns, particularly in light of his support for Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Less than one year ago, Masood Khan declared Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani a ‘role model’ and ‘inspiration for young minds’ while calling on diaspora communities to organize in support of militants,” Oldmixon said. “Such actions raise serious concerns about his appointment as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States and the potential impact of this appointment on US national security interests and US-relations across South Asia and beyond.”
This post has been updated to include a response from Seth Oldmixon, founder of Liberty South Asia.