LeT-linked Nepali Islamic Organization Expanding Madrassas in Nepal


August 25, 2023


LeT-linked Nepali Islamic Organization Expanding Madrassas in Nepal

Map of Nepal

The US-based non-governmental organization (NGO), “Helping Hand for Relief and Development” (HHRD), which allegedly maintains connections with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist group, is reportedly collaborating with a prominent Islamic organization to extend the presence of Madrassas in Nepal.

This joint effort is believed to be aimed at radicalizing Muslims in the Terai-Madhes region.

Several months ago, U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul, the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged a halt to funding for HHRD pending a comprehensive investigation into these allegations.

In a letter dated January 24, 2023, addressed to USAID Administrator Samantha Power, the Congressman expressed deep concern over credible information received by his office more than eight months prior, indicating a potential association between one of USAID’s grant recipients and designated terrorist organizations.

According to Nepali security agencies, the LeT-linked organization has been establishing various facilities in Nepal, including an office located prominently in Kathmandu.

This organization recently provided a substantial sum of Nepali Rupees to a Madrasa in Biratnagar, Morang district, Koshi Province, ostensibly for the acquisition of land.

The Madrasa is led by a Central Member and Head Maulana affiliated with the said Muslim organization.

Nepali law enforcement agencies suspect that the Qatar Embassy in Kathmandu has allocated a substantial amount of funding to expand extremist-leaning Madrasas near the Indian border.

This arrangement was reportedly discussed between a leader of the Islamic organization and officials from the Kathmandu-based Qatar embassy at a meeting in Biratnagar.

The expansion of these LeT-linked Madrasas is believed to promote Islamic teachings that could potentially fuel Islamic fundamentalism.

This, in turn, could lead to communal tensions within Nepal and be exploited to incite anti-India activities in bordering regions between Nepal and India.

Domain experts from Nepalese think tanks reveal that the implicated organization receives support from hardline Pakistani entities and also secures funding from other Muslim-majority countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

These funds are purportedly intended for identifying and indoctrinating individuals for radical and disruptive agendas.

Pakistani and Chinese Dawa teams are alleged to visit these radical Madrasas under the pretext of religious tours while collaborating with Pakistan-based groups.

Recent reports indicate an increasing frequency of such religious tours in various Madrasas in the Koshi Province.

It is suspected that Pakistani Maulvis and Islamic preachers with ties to LeT and other Jihadi organizations have been visiting Madrasas near the Indian border from provinces like Koshi and Madesh, often accompanied by officials from the Pakistan Embassy in Kathmandu.

Informal revelations from immigration and police sources suggest that these visits exploit gaps in Nepal’s immigration and visa regulations.

Pakistani nationals and representatives of Islamic organizations are reportedly misusing these loopholes to engage in Madrasa radicalization activities under the guise of tourism and cultural exchanges.

In light of these evolving circumstances, Nepali security agencies, including the Nepal Police Special Bureau, are diligently investigating the sources of funding for several Madrasas operating near the Indian border.

HHRD, an offshoot of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), is a US-based NGO with affiliations in Pakistan and a presence in areas such as Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Nepal, it collaborates closely with an Islamic organization that follows the extremist ideological principles of Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan.

In January 2023, HHRD faced scrutiny for its alleged association with designated terrorist organizations.

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee questioned the USAID’s lack of action despite detailed information provided about grants awarded to HHRD.

Chairman Michael McCaul called for an immediate suspension of the award, considering the concerns raised.

There are indications that the Nepali organization maintains significant ties with Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the charitable arm of the banned terrorist group LeT in Pakistan.

FIF has reportedly sponsored events organized by this Nepali organization. In 2019, HHRD gained attention for arranging a conference in Pakistan alongside FIF and Milli Muslim League, both considered branches of LeT.

Collectively, these developments highlight the worrisome expansion of LeT-supported HHRD’s efforts to propagate radical Madrasas in Nepal.

In light of these evolving circumstances, Nepali security agencies, including the Nepal Police Special Bureau, are diligently investigating the sources of funding for several Madrasas operating near the Indian border.

Law enforcement sources indicate that they are currently scrutinizing the funding sources for institutions like Darul Uloom Islam (Alpapur-5, Sunsari district), Jammatul Ismiat Madrassa (Bhutaha-5, Sunsari district), Al-Safa Public School/Madrassa (Bhokraha Narsingh-8, Sunsari district), Madrassa Inaamul Quran (Naya Tola, Jhapa-4, Jhapa district), Madrassa Islamia (Ruhimari VDC, Jhapa-4, Jhapa district), Madrassa Jamiatul Isahul Islamia (Bhutaha-2, Sunsari district), Madrassa Rizvia Zoshiya Masuddul Uloom (Harinagar-4, Sunsari district), among others.

(Sources: Various media outlets)