November 9, 2023 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1725

Key Pakistani And Afghan Islamic Leaders Travel Across Islamabad, Kabul, Tehran, Doha, Ankara, And Cairo To Bolster Hamas Amid The Hamas-Israel War

November 9, 2023 | By Tufail Ahmad*
Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Palestinians, Turkey | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1725

As the Hamas-Israel war entered its second month on November 7, key Islamic leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan began traveling to Islamabad, Kabul, Tehran, Doha, and Ankara, with some of them heading for Gaza, to assemble a collective strategy against Israel.

Sirajul Haq, the emir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP), the largest religious organization across South Asia founded by late Islamic theologian Syed Abul A'ala Maududi, was in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on November 6, 2023. Before arriving in Doha, Sirajul Haq visited Tehran where he met with Iranian leaders. Sirajul Haq is accompanied by Sabir Awan, the deputy emir of Jamaat-e-Islami for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Asif Luqman Qazi, the director of external affairs of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan emir Sirajul Haq (centre) meets with Iranian leaders in Tehran

In a meeting with Ayatollah Agha Qomi, the advisor for external affairs for the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and other Iranian leaders, Sirajul Haq said: "The universal message of Syed Abul A'ala Maududi and Imam Khomeini is to piece together the world of Islam into a single thread. All Islamic countries should unite and stop Israeli barbarism. One month has passed; and Gaza is burning. The international community and OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] have failed to rein in Israel."[1]

According to a report in Roznama Jasarat, the Urdu daily published by Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Sirajul Haq was expected to attend the conference of the leaders of the Islamist movements scheduled for November 9-10, 2023.[2] The report said that Sirajul Haq was on a trip with stops in Iran, Qatar, and Turkey with the goal being "to persuade the officials of these three countries to agree on the practical steps to save the inhabitants of Palestine from Israeli atrocities."[3]

In Tehran, Sirajul Haq also met with Dr. Khaled Al-Qaddumi, a leader of Hamas based in Iran, and assured him of complete support and aid from the Pakistani public.[4] The Jamaat-e-Islami chief also held meetings with Ayatollah Shahryari and Ayatollah Rahimian from the Defense Ministry of Iran.[5] According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Dunya, Sirajul Haq called for a conference of the OIC on Gaza, and stated on November 5: "Muslim rulers should announce a collective jihad against Israel in view of the barbarism in Gaza"; "The silence of Pakistan and Muslim rulers on the Palestinian issue is due to the fear of America. American aid is tantamount to issuing a license to Israel for massacre."[6]

In Doha, the Jamaat-e-Islami emir held a meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Qatari leaders where they exchanged views on the situation in Gaza. Sirajul Haq's meeting in Doha was also attended by Khaled Mashaal and the central leadership of Hamas, according to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Express.[7] While Sirajul Haq was in Doha with Ankara as the next stop on his itinerary, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan was in Cairo to provide aid to the Palestinians and meet with Dr. Rami Al-Nazr, the head of Egyptian Red Cross.[8]

On November 5, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the emir of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) of Pakistan, also visited Doha where he met with Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh. At the meeting, Khaled Mashaal described Maulana Fazlur Rehman as the ambassador of Palestine in Pakistan and said: "It is obligatory upon the Muslim Ummah to unite against the Israeli crimes. The countries that advocate human rights are reaching Tel Aviv with ships filled with weapons. The Muslim Ummah should also enter the battlefield for the support of Palestinian brothers, support their mothers, sisters and brothers."[9]

In Doha, Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman met with Hamas leaders

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a leading Islamic religious scholar who can mobilize millions of Pakistanis, is leading a delegation that includes Maulana Rashid Muhammad Soomro, the Secretary General of JUI-F for Sindh province, and Mufti Abrar Ahmad, another Islamic religious scholar. At the meeting in Doha, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said: "Israel is making shameless efforts to transform the First Qibla [i.e., Jerusalem[10]] into Haikal [Solomon's Temple] by oppression in Palestine. Palestinians are fighting for the liberation of the First Qibla by performing the fard [obligatory duty] of the entire Muslim Ummah, not for their own land."[11]

According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Dunya, Maulana Fazlur Rehman's was to travel to Doha and Ankara on his week-long trip before likely visiting refugee camps in Lebanon or Egypt.[12] The Pakistani cleric was scheduled to meet with "government officials in Turkey and Qatar" and discuss ways of providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian refugees.[13] Aslam Ghauri, the spokesman of JUI-F, said that "Maulana Fazlur Rehman is travelling toward Gaza but," according to  a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Express, "refused to give details."[14]

In Tehran on an official visit, Afghan Taliban's Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as well as Ali Akbar Ahmadian, chairman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. Aamaj News published a Dari-language report according to which Mullah Baradar "appreciated Iran's cooperation in the two rounds of jihad in Afghanistan," referring to the 1980s jihad against the Soviet forces and the post-2001 jihad against the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.[15] According to the report, Ahmadian praised the Afghan Taliban's support for the Palestinian resistance against Israel and emphasized the need to strengthen security cooperation between the two sides.[16]

Mullah Baradar also met with Iran's Vice President Mohammad Mokhber. According to a series of tweets from Mullah Baradar's office, both sides discussed, in addition to bilateral economic and trade relations, the political situation of the region and the world, and the crimes committed by the "oppressive Israeli regime in Palestine."[17]

Mullah Baradar's engagements in Tehran came at a time there were reports that Iran and the Afghan Taliban had engaged in cooperation on an unprecedented scale resulting in the arrest of three persons working for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. According to  a media report, "Iran's intelligence ministry in cooperation with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban group have neutralized a drone attack by the Israeli regime's spy agency Mossad in eastern Iran. Three Mossad agents of Iranian nationality were arrested in the mountainous areas between Iran and Afghanistan."[18]

In Tehran, Afghan Taliban's Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar met with Ali Akbar Ahmadian, chairman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council

Tehran is one of the few capitals where the Afghan Embassy is under the control of the Afghan Taliban, whose government in Kabul is yet to be recognized by any country. On October 26, 2023, the Embassy of Afghanistan in Tehran tweeted in Dari that Afghan Taliban's ambassador to Iran, Fazl Mohammad Haqqani, participated in a meeting of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran along with the ambassadors of Islamic countries and the heads of international organizations based in Tehran, the purpose of the meeting being to assess and "condemn Israel's attacks against the defenseless people of Palestine in Gaza."[19]

According to a Dari-language report published by AVA Press on November 2, 2023, Seyyed Hassan Mousavi, head of the office of the pro-Iranian Tebyan Cultural and Social Activities Center of Kabul, attended the sixth meeting of the parties supporting the Islamic resistance held in Tehran on the theme of "Palestine and The World Without Zionism."[20]

On November 6, Sayed Esa Hussaini Mazari, the head of Tebyan Cultural and Social Activities Center, said in a weekly meeting of his organization's youth section in Kabul that based on the orders of Shi'ite jurisprudence, Shi'ite Muslims are obliged to fully support our Sunni brothers and sisters living in Palestine.[21] "In this regard, we wrote a letter to the leaders of Hamas and declared our readiness to leave Afghanistan in thousands to come to Gaza and support you and stand against Israel," he told the meeting.[22]

It is possible that Hamas – acting at the behest of Iran – chose October 7, 2023, to launch its attacks against Israel in part marking the 22nd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Sayed Esa Hussaini Mazari, the most influential pro-Iranian Shi'ite leader in Afghanistan, also organized a conference to mark the 22nd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Speaking on the occasion, he said that "the current situation of the Zionist regime is affected by America's defeat in Afghanistan" and added: "After America's defeat in Afghanistan, it can be seen that Israel's situation is getting worse every day, and after the massive public demonstrations and protests in the past months [against the Netanyahu government], this regime is now facing the massive attack of Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad organization."[23]

* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative.


[1] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), November 8, 2023.

[2] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), November 8, 2023.

[3] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), November 8, 2023.

[4] Roznama Express(Pakistan), November 7, 2023.

[5] Roznama Express (Pakistan), November 7, 2023.

[6] Roznama Dunya (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[7] Roznama Express (Pakistan), November 7, 2023.

[8] Roznama Express (Pakistan), November 7, 2023.

[9] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[10] The Qibla is the direction toward which a Muslim turns to pray. In early Islam, Muslims prayed toward Jerusalem before they prayed toward Mecca

[11] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[12] Roznama Dunya (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[13] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[14] Roznama Express (Pakistan), November 6, 2023.

[15] (Afghanistan), November 6, 2023.

[16] (Afghanistan), November 6, 2023.

[17], November 6, 2023.

[18] (Afghanistan), November 5, 2023.

[19], October 26, 2023.

[20] (Afghanistan), November 2, 2023.

[21] (Afghanistan), November 6, 2023.

[22] (Afghanistan), November 6, 2023.

[23] (Afghanistan), October 12, 2023.

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