of Prophet) was floated by Maulana Masood Azhar in February 2000,
immediately after his release in the hijack drama of Indian Airlines
plane IC814 in December 1999.
The JeM is
ideologically, and in terms of organizational links, an extension of the
Harkat-ul-Ansar, that was banned by the US in 1997, owing to its
reported association with bin Laden. Harkat-ul-Ansar rechristened itself
as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in 1998.
Though the leaders of
the JeM are all foreigners, the group has dependable local recruits, and
this makes it a deadly adversary. Though known for its hit-and-run
attacks on police and security forces, its big operation was the one on
the Badami Bagh Cantonment, when one of its members drove a hijacked car
loaded with explosives into the main gate of the cantonment on April 19,
2000. It marked the first suicide bomb attack in the 13-year-old history
of Kashmir militancy. Police assert that the JeM, with its small and
committed network in parts of the old city and some areas up-town, was
also responsible for other daylight attacks.
The emergence of the
JeM revolves round Maulana Masood Azhar, the Harkat leader who was
jailed in Kashmir. He was finally released on December 31, 1999, when
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh flew him along with two others
to Kandahar, and bartered them for the release of the hijacked plane and
its passengers. The creation of JeM was the first act of a freed Azhar.
Hailing from Bahawalpor in Pakistan, Azhar entered Kashmir on February
9, 1994 from Bangladesh on a "forged" Portuguese passport (the passport
identified him as Adam Issa). He toured the valley with Sajjad Afghani.
Investigations after his arrest revealed that Azhar had come to forge
unity of two groups - Harkat-e-Jehad-e-Islami (HJI) and HuM. The HJI was
operating in the mountains of south Kashmir and Doda, and had succeeded
in almost overrunning a number of security camps and inflicting massive
casualties, under the command of Mansoor Khan Largyal, who is presently
in Jodhpur Jail, Rajasthan, with 21 other foreign militants. The HuM had
just begun from north Kashmir. Azhar managed their merger, and the
Harkat-ul-Ansar was born. The outfit, with its highly motivated cadres
and strict discipline, proved itself capable of army-like coordination.
The IC 814 hijack that shook the world, especially the subcontinent, in
late 1999, was the fifth and the final bid to get Azhar out of jail. The
hostage crisis rocked the entire world. This was, in fact, the prime
reason for the US branding the Harkat-ul-Ansar as a terrorist outfit in
October 1997, along with 29 others. After the ban, the Harkat-ul-Ansar
bifurcated into the HJI and HuM, with Azhar said to be closer to the HuM.
After his release, Azhar returned to Pakistan, and founded the JeM from
Masjid Falal in Karachi. The move was resisted by Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman
Khalili, co-founder of the HuM. Khalili, in fact, resigned from his top
post in the HuM, and offered the same to Azhar, an offer Azhar rejected.
The HuM was reported to have joined this new outfit. Later, however, it
became clear that both continued to exist, in spite of the fact that
most HuM men joined Azhar's group. In May 1999, the HuM announced its
merger with Azhar's outfit in Kashmir.
The JeM and HuM, however, fought pitched battles for the control of HuM
assets in Pakistan, details of which were published by the Pakistan
media in detail. This even led to the assassination of Moulana
Ludhyanavi, one of the JeM's top supporters. Ludhyanavi was mysteriously
killed soon after his return from Afghanistan, with a mission to seek
help from Taliban for the new outfit. The outfit is currently running
two training camps for its recruits.
The added advantage Azhar had was that Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, a young
Srinagar youth, who was heading the Al-Umar Mujahideen, was also freed
in the barter. In the belief that Zargar's contacts will rejuvenate the
militant movement, the long-dead outfit was revived. Though it has not
been actually revived, its cadres are believed to be working for the JeM.
Zargar is reportedly untraceable in Pakistan. He is the only Kashmir
militant, presently based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), who issued
a statement that he is leaving for Kabul to help his "embatteled
The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)
has owned responsibility for October 1, 2001 strike on Jammu and Kashmir
Legislative Assembly. It is stated to be the only one connected to Osama
bin Laden's Al-Qaida.
Strong Deobandi creed
forms the primary religious and ideological base for Jaish as well as
Taliban. In fact, the Taliban movement was launched by the students of
the very network of 9000 madrasas which the Jaish's (formerly Harkat)
parent organisation -- Jamiat-e-Ulemai-Islam -- runs across Pakistan.
Masood only knit the ties stronger after his release (Kandhar hijacking
in 1999) as he toured Kandhar to secure the blessings of Taliban
leadership soon after he planned to launch Jaish Mohammad or the `Army
of the Prophet'.
Moulana Azhar Masood,
who is emerging as the ultimate leader of Deobandi pan-Islamist
militants in Kashmir, has however been directly associated with
madrassas, Jamia Abu Yousuf, Madipore Karachi and Jamiat-ul-Uloomi
Islamiyah in Binori town of Karachi. The Binori madrassa has around
8,000 students and many a top Taliban leadership is product of this
institute. According to Ahmad Rasheed, this madrassa sent 600 students
to join Taliban in 1996 alone.