Masood Azhar headed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on February 14 claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb blast on a Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama that killed at least 40 jawans.
This is not the first time the notorious Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar has been held responsible for attacks in India. Azhar has been responsible for some of the most dreaded terror attacks in India, including the attack on the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot in January 2016 and the attack on Parliament in December 2001.
Who is Masood Azhar?
Masood Azhar was Born in 10 July 1968 Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakstan as one of ten siblings. He studied at the Jamia Uloom ul Islamia, Banuri Town in Karachi. Later he became involved with Harkat-ul-Ansar.
He suffered injuries in the Soviet–Afghan War after which he was chosen as the head of Harkat’s department of motivation and became an editor for the Urdu-language Sad’e Mujahidin and the Arabic-language Sawte Kashmir.
Azhar later became the general secretary of Harkat-ul-Ansar and visited Zambia, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, the United Kingdom Albania and many international locations to recruit, to raise funds and to spread the message of Pan-Islamism.
Masood Azhar has been listed as one of its most wanted terrorists by India due to his history of militant activities. India has been continuously trying to place Azhar on UN Security Council’s counter-terrorism sanctions list, a move vetoed by China.
Arrested in India but Released:
With a motive to ease tension between Harkat-ul-Ansar’s feuding factions of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Masood Azhar travelled to Srinagar in early 1994. Later he was arrested and imprisoned by India for his terrorist activities with the groups
A Kashmiri Islamist militant organisation named Al-Faran in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir kidnapped six foreign tourists in 1995 and demanded release of Masood Azhar and and 20 other prisoners.
In 1999 during former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime an Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC814) that took off from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked by terrorists and eventually landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan before being flown to multiple locations.
Kandahar at that time was controlled by Taliban which was initially thought to be on India’s side, but later was suggested to be working with Pakistan’s ISI.
The hijackers demanded the release of Masood Azhar and three other militants for freeing the hostages.
The Indian government Azhar in a decision that is still criticized by many including Ajit Doval as a “diplomatic failure”.The hijackers of IC814 were led by Masood Azhar’s brother, Ibrahim Athar.
IPS officer, S P Vaid supervised his release from Kot Bhalwal jail. His younger brother Abdul Rauf Asghar had planned this attack. The hijackers fled to Pakistani territory after Masood Azhar was handed over to them.
Since then Masood Azhar has been staying in Pakistan and Pakistan government has been providing him shelter.
Shortly after his release, Azhar made a public address to an estimated 10,000 people in Karachi. He proclaimed, “I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed India,” vowing to liberate the Kashmir region from Indian rule.
Attacks on India:
2001 parliament attacks :
Eighteen years ago, Parliament, the symbol of Indian democracy, was attacked this day by five heavily-armed terrorists who killed nine people and injured 16 others. Masood Azhar’s outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed allegedly carried out the attack in December 2001 that brought India and Pakistan to the face off in a full-scale war.Soon after the Indian parliament attack, Masood Azhar was detained for a year by Pakistani authorities in connection but was never formally charged. The Lahore High Court ordered an end to the house arrest on 14 December 2002, much to the fury of India.
2008 Mumbai attacks:
On 7 December 2008, it was claimed that he was among several arrested by the Pakistani government after a military raid on a camp located on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He continued to live in Bhawalpur. Pakistan’s government denied it had arrested Masood Azhar and said it was unaware of his whereabouts. On 26 January 2014, Masood Azhar reappeared after a seclusion of six years. He addressed a rally in Muzaffarabad, calling for the resumption of jihad in Kashmir. His group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, claims he is currently in Srinagar, India.
2016 Pathankot attack:
The 2016 Pathankot attack was a terrorist attack committed on 2nd January 2016 by a heavily armed group which attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force that was is said to be masterminded by Masood Azhar and his brother.
2019 Pulwama attack:
In the biggest ever attacks on the security forces, the Militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammad blew up a CRPF convoy at Pulwama on the Srinagar-Jammu highway killing 40 CRPF jawans.It was a convoy of 50 vehicles which came under the attack Jaish-e-Mohammad as the terrorist used suicide bombers using IED. The convoy was on the Srinagar-Jammu highway and was on its way to Pulwama when a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden SUV crashed into the bus. The bus had 39 jawans on board when the SUV crashed into it.
(Featured image : India Today, India.com, HuffPost India)