Pakistan: Wanted terrorists Azhar, Ibrahim not in country
Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
A wanted terrorist leader recently under house arrest and a mafia don with close ties to South Asian terror networks are not in Pakistan, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and South Asian crime boss Dawood Ibrahim are not in in the country, according to Rehman Malik, the Interior Advisor to Prime Minister Gilani. Malik made the comments at a meeting of the federal cabinet in Lahore, Geo News reported.
The claim that Azhar is not in Pakistan directly conflicts with claims made by Pakistani officials that he was under house arrest in Bahawalpur in early December 2008. Pakistani officials later claimed Azhar was not under house arrest and his location was unknown.
Rumors later cropped up that claimed Azhar was operating in South Waziristan. Rashid Rauf, an al Qaeda operative who is a member of Azhar's family, is also thought to have fled to South Waziristan after his escape from custody. Rauf was reported to have been killed in a November 2008 US Predator strike in South Waziristan, but his associates claimed he is alive.
Ibrahim's whereabouts are unknown, but he known to operate his criminal-terror empire in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.
After the terror assault on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai in November 2008, India demanded Pakistan turn over senior leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and Harkat ul-Jihad-I-Islami. Both Azhar and Ibrahim were on the list of more than 20 wanted terrorists.
Azhar is the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, or Army of the Prophet Mohammed, a terror group group that conducts attacks in Indian-held Kashmir but also has close links to and conducts operations with Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda in Pakistan and India. In 1994, Azhar was detained by Indian security officials in Srinagar.
He was released along with Omar Saeed Sheikh from an Indian jail in exchange for hostages held in an Indian Airlines flight hijacking in December 1999. He established the Jaish-e-Mohammed the next year as an offshoot of the Harkat-ul-Ansar, one of many terror groups created to fight the Indians in India-occupied Kashmir.
Azhar has been in Pakistani detention at least two times in the past decade. He was briefly detained after the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, but was cleared of charges by a court in Lahore. Pakistani police detained Azhar after the 2003 assassination attempts against then-President Pervez Musharraf, but quietly freed him months later.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed was implicated along with the Lashkar-e-Taiba as being behind the Dec. 13, 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi. In October 2001, the US designated Jaish-e-Mohammed as a foreign terrorist organization. The group receives support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency.
Mafia and terror kingpin Dawood Ibrahim.
Dawood Ibrahim is perhaps Indian's most wanted man. Ibrahim runs an extensive criminal network throughout South Asia. Al Qaeda and other Pakistani and Bangladeshi terror groups have allied with Ibrahim to leverage his network of weapons smuggling and other services. The US government branded Ibrahim as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2003.
Ibrahim has been implicated in the 1993 Mumbai bombings and is known to receive backing from the Inter-Service Intelligence agency. His network also played a role in facilitating the 2008 Mumbai terror assault.