Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (right).
Pakistan has placed Masood Azhar, the founder and leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, under house arrest in the wake of mounting international pressure to act against terror groups involved with the Nov. 26 terror attacks in Mumbai, India.
Security forces have reportedly surrounded Azhar’s home in Bahawalpur and are preventing him from traveling. Azhar is one of an estimated 20 Pakistani terrorists wanted by India for their role in the Mumbai attacks.
Azhar is a long-time jihadi who trained at the same religious seminary as Afghanistan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Azhar was released from an Indian jail in exchange for hostages held in an Indian Airlines flight hijacking in December 1999. Azhar’s brother, Mohammed Ibrahim Athar Alvi, took part in the hijacking.
Azhar established Jaish-e-Mohammed the next year as an offshoot of the Harkat-u-Ansar, one of many terror groups created with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency to fight the Indians in India-occupied Kashmir.
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 added Jaish-e-Mohammed as a foreign terrorist organization. In 2002, Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Omar, a close associate of Azhar, was behind the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
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 freed him months later.
India has demanded Pakistan turn over senior leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami. These terror groups receive backing from elements within Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
But Pakistan’s foreign minister said the country will not turn over wanted terrorist leaders to India. Instead the men are to be tried in Pakistan if evidence of involvement in the Mumbai attacks is discovered.
“The arrests are being made for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect, he will not be handed over to India,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. “We will proceed against those arrested under Pakistani laws.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry also issued a demarche, or diplomatic rebuke, demanding the Indian government share information on the Mumbai investigation and requesting a joint investigation be conducted. “We require detailed information and evidence,” Qureshi said.
Yesterday, Pakistani forces targeted offices and camps in Muzaffarabad run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, the main terror group behind the Mumbai terror siege. At least nine operatives, including Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, a senior Lashkar leader and one of the operational masterminds of the Mumbai attack, have been detained. According to one report, security forces clashed with Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters for over 90 minutes at the camp. An attack helicopter reportedly fired its guns during the battle.
Pakistani security officials said the operations against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups would continue. “The operation is going on in Muzaffarabad and some other parts of the country and some arrests have been made, including a top man of Lashkar,” Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major General Athar Abbas told Dawn. “We do not want to go into details of the operation because of certain reasons and sensitivity of the matter.” Raids have also been reported in the capital of Islamabad.
The operation is being led by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency, Abbas said, “in which not only army but all civil security agencies are taking part.”
For more on the ISI’s involvement with Pakistani terror groups, see
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Like most irhabis, I don’t think this guy has ever been accused of being a “handsome chap”.
Well it seems to me it would be a perfect time to send a drone in with a laser guided christmas card!
This isn’t the first time that Azhar has been detained under house arrest, and it won’t be the last.
Think of his arrest as you would think of Arafat’s “arrest” of Paleo terrorists, only to be released out the back door.
Ever since Zardari reneged on his pledge to send the head of the ISI to India, Pakistan’s actions have made it look progressively worse. The overall picture is that of a regime ready, willing, and able to train terrorists to mass-murder innocents, then hide them behind tis nuclear shield to keep them from justice.
I note, too, that a fair section of the English-language Pakistani press is being dishonest about this, seeking to assure its leadership that Pakistan is doing what it can in terms of “full cooperation”, while not pointing out the strings Pakistan ties to its every deed that nullifies their purported intent, cuts that whittle away what little confidence foreigners have in Pakistan’s “democracy”.
Conclusion: As long as Pakistan’s leadership refuses to be bold, violence may ebb and flow, but we will always have Pak-inspired terrorism with us.
If the matter were not so grave, these farcical arrests might even warrant some cynical humor.
One can only contemplate, how many of the innocent lives lost in terrorist attacks could have been saved, had he been brought to justice in 2001.
House arrest is the best the Pakis can do for a know terrorist? Now he’ll just have to host terrorist meetings instead of going to them. It’ll cut down on the after-meeting deserts he has to bring with him.
What a joke, much like the whole country. Not that India is capable of doing anything about it.
By the looks of this character, at least the sheep of Bahawalpur can rest easy as long as he’s inside his house.
Bill, question: Are Syed Shahzad, Asia Times’ Pakistan correspondent, and the Guardian’s man in Pakistan, Saeed Shah (who tracked down the family home in the Pakistan of surviving Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab), the same person?
Masood Azhar was trained at the same seminary as Mullah Omar, I presume you mean Binori Town. Mullah Omar was not trained at Binori Town.
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/10/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
What is the legal situation for Pakistan placing Masood Azhar under house arrest? Are they using an anti-terrorism dentention without trial law, or what ? Last year the Pakistan courts, correctly in my opinion, forced the government to release hundreds of uncharged prisoners. Basically I’m wondering about how much this arrest is legal, and how much it is arbitary power. (Admitedly it’s 99% theatre, but does anyone know the legal basis?)
Mariam, I’m thinking of Haqqania, which has many Taliban alumni.