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From Hurriyat to Hamas: Unmasking the opulent lives of terror leaders

7 months ago 103

In the shadowy realm of terrorism, where violence and chaos reign, there is a complex paradox. Terror leaders, despite the suffering and death caused by their ideologies, often lead lives of extreme luxury and opulence.

Terror leaders often maintain a facade of sacrifice, creating an image of honour, commitment, and dedication to their violent cause. But, behind closed doors, they revel in a life that is far from the horrors that they perpetuate. With insights gained from surviving Pakistan’s three-decade proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 1999 Kargil conflict, one can better understand global conflicts. Thus, the recent escalation of hostilities between Israeli forces and terrorist outfits like Hamas and Hezbollah underscores the similarities in the lifestyles of these terror leaders in both Kashmir and the Middle East.

As children of a proxy war in Kashmir from 1989 onwards, we saw our fair share of these guerilla raids, the Ramzan ceasefires, the ‘peace-interlocutors’, the funerals of dead terrorist attended by gun wielding jihadis giving the AK-47 firing salute to the ‘martyr’. Having homes toppled down in search and cordon operations with the jihadis taking a last stand when facing surrender or death choices is not a new concept. Months of strikes called out by the separatist politicians who themselves were ensconced in posh mansions in security areas of the Valley or based abroad, are memories brought back by seeing Hamas leaders issuing calls for worldwide jihad from their palaces in the oil-rich state of Qatar.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, and other Hamas leaders live a life of wealth and privileges in Qatar, away from the difficulties in Gaza. These terrorist leaders reside in Qatar, where they enjoy comfortable living and luxurious surroundings. Qatar sponsors Hamas leaders and provides them with an internationally recognised platform to propagate their propaganda through Al Jazeera. Haniyeh’s wealth increased during his tenure as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, where he had control over the Gazan economy and taxed goods imported from Egypt. Hamas officials, including Haniyeh, imposed a 20 percent tax on trade passing through tunnels in Gaza. Haniyeh and his family own valuable property and assets in the Gaza Strip, in contrast to the endemic poverty in the region.

Qatari support, including financial contributions, has a significant role in sustaining Hamas leadership. Hamas leaders and their families possess the ability to travel freely, while most Gazans do not enjoy this privilege. Gaza’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid, with Qatar being one of the major donors. The ongoing Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007 has contributed to Gaza’s economic problems. Corruption is believed to be a widespread issue in the Gaza Strip. The leaders of terror organisations have mastered the method of hiding in plain sight. They often reside in luxurious mansions, hidden compounds, or even entire islands, shielded from the danger of authorities. These hidden havens provide them with the perfect sanctuary to plan and execute their sinister activities while enjoying the spoils of their malevolent activities.

In Kashmir too the Hurriyat leaders while on the payroll of the Pakistani ISI, also projected themselves as the sole spokespersons of the residents of the Valley, which comprised Muslims, Pandits, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and other non-religious folks. The Government of India had no choice but to send left-leaning interlocutors time and again to negotiate peace terms with the Hurriyat organization, while their armed wings of the various Islamic terrorist ‘tanzeems’ would be destroying havoc in the Valley. While the common Kashmiris who were daily wagers in offices, street-vendors, shopkeepers, businesses struggled to provide for their families, those who defied the strike calls were often threatened and sometimes fatally injured to send a message across. Kashmir’s dead are families, individuals caught in the crossfires and encounters between the Indian security forces and the jihadists.

Today, what Gazans are suffering—corrupt, inconsiderate leaders speaking for them, from the ‘bravery of being out of range’ of those Israeli airstrikes is something we have witnessed ourselves. Hurriyat leaders used to advocate Kashmir’s secession from India from their posh mansions in Srinagar’s rich suburbs while the ordinary Kashmiris reeled under the failing economy and the youth, radicalised by Wahhabi/Salafi interpretations of Islam were made cannon fodder in the Jihad industry. The sons and daughters of these terror leaders turned abroad based conflict entrepreneurs (ABCEs) thriving on the inadequacy of the Government of India to counter the Pakistani propaganda in the UN and other left-wing groups.

The Hamas leaders in various interviews are frequently asked about the October 7, 2023, murderous rampage in Israeli kibbutzim and settlements. They keep justifying the medieval type of raid of rape and pillage and killings; on being asked what about the people of Gaza who will inevitably face the consequences of Israel’s military retaliation, they make it clear that Gaza’s ordinary people are the UN’s responsibility while Hamas has built a subterranean city underground with interconnecting tunnels. This is similar to when Hurriyat leaders would be interviewed in their crewel draped, walnut carved, furnished posh bungalows as to what about the ordinary Kashmiris, the answer was the rhetorical “blood, tears, sacrifice, martyrdom” of jihad while their own progeny enjoyed Ivy League educations and lifestyles quite ‘un-Islamic’.

The Hamas-Israel war has taken a step back from the hypocrisy, fraud, and duplicity of terror leaders once more. It is important for impressionable minds, often brainwashed by the Left-wing ideology, to understand how much the ordinary people suffer from this terror. White guilt, political correctness, hurting sensibilities may hinder people from stating the obvious. Terror leaders, driven by their twisted ideologies, lead lives of unimaginable luxury far away from the very violence they propagate. Through exploitation, criminal activities, and the manipulation of fear and influence, they accumulate immense wealth while their followers suffer and die for their cause.

Understanding this unsettling reality sheds light on the complexity of terrorism and the insidious nature of those who orchestrate it. Despite the rhetoric of justice, freedom, liberty, and equality, malevolent forces must be eradicated to bring peace and justice to the world.

The author is a writer and an educationist from Srinagar. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.

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