Pakistan’s Dawn reported on January 27 that Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, held a rally in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, where he criticized India of “killing Kashmiri Muslims” and warned India of “dreaded revenge” for its execution of Afzal Guru. This was Masood Azhar’s first public rally in years after Pakistan ostensibly banned Jaish-e-Mohammed, first after the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament and subsequently after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
However, while this may have been his first major public rally since 2008, Masood Azhar appears to have been reactivated as far back as at least 2011, per a report in the Islam Times. Masood Azhar’s return to his headquarters in Bahawalpur and the resumption of terror training camps had the blessings of the Pakistani establishment.
Azhar’s resurfacing should give pause to those who believe that Pakistan, after the recent transitions in political and military leadership and very public debates on terrorist groups targeting the state, was any closer to reining in its terrorist assets targeting India. Exerpts of the September 2011 article in the Islam Times follow:
When India, in December 2008 declared Maulana Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed as wanted men, Pakistan was forced to ban the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Under pressure from Islamabad, Masood Azhar moved out of his Model Town headquarters in Bahawalpur –where hundreds of fighters were being trained — and relocated to South Waziristan.
Islam Times’ military source now reports that Masood Azhar has returned his Bahawalpur headquarters and resumed the training of militants there. Masood Azhar also openly operates madrasas where hundreds of children are being instructed in new interpretations of Islam.
According to our source, Masood Azhar is constructing bunkers and tunnels similar to those that existed in the madrasas of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafza before they are destroyed by Pakistani military action in 2007. Masood Azhar has been granted permission by the Pakistani establishment to resume his activities in Bahawalpur.
Masood Azhar’s associate Rashid Rauf escaped while under trail in Pakistan and ended up in Europe. After flying to London in August 2007, he was involved in a failed attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight. It is alleged that Rashid Rauf was killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan in November 2008.
Pakistan’s senior security officers indicate that Jaish-e-Mohammed has ties with al-Qaeeda, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and is working with these outfits to target kaafirs (presumably U.S. and NATO troops) along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. After being released by India (as part of a swap for hostages aboard a hijacked IC-814 flight) in 1999, Masood Azhar organized a rally in Karachi with over 10,000 participants and declared that Muslims will not rest until India and the U.S. were dismembered and destroyed.
When the trajectory of talks between India and Pakistan slowed in 2007, Jaish-e-Mohammed lauched many successful attacks in “Occupied Kashmir” under the leadership of Mufti Abdul Rauf, Masood Azhar’s younger brother. Mufti Abdul Rauf was subsequently also given facilities in Rawalpindi to train terrorist organizations from South Punjab.
Jaish-e-Mohammed has the support of many prominent Deoband organizations in Pakistan, including Jamia Binori’s Mufti Nizamuddin and Sipah-e-Sahaba’s Yusuf Ludhianvi. British intelligence agencies investigating the 2005 terrorist attack in London indicate that two of the suicide bombers were known associates of Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Faisalabad trainer Osama Nazir. [اسلام ٹائمز]