Kandahar hijacking, Parliament attack: 10 things to know about Azhar

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 13, 2016 20:31 IST
In this file photo taken on February 4, 2000, Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad group addresses a press conference in Karachi. (AFP)

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar was on Wednesday detained in connection with the Pathankot airbase attack , Pakistan media reported.

The reports suggest Azhar was taken into preventive custody and was being questioned. Here are 10 things to know about Azhar:

1) Maulana Masood Azhar, who was born in 1968 in Bahawalpur in the central Pakistani province of Punjab, came to India on a Portuguese passport in January 1994.

2) Known to be a master indoctrinator, Azhar was soon in Kashmir to speak to ‘mujahids’. He was arrested in February 1994 for being a member of Harkat-ul Mujahideen and spent six years in jail.

3) After his arrest, the Pakistan high commission in Delhi wrote to the Indian foreign ministry identifying Azhar as a Pakistani journalist and sought his release.

4) He was later freed by Indian authorities along with two other terrorists in exchange for passengers of Indian Airlines flight IC814, hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999.

5) Soon after his release, the Maulana addressed a gathering outside a mosque in Karachi, saying: “I have come here because it is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India. Kashmir has to be liberated from Indian rule.”

6) After his release, Azhar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2000.

7) The Jaish made its presence felt in Srinagar through a suicide bombing at the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in Srinagar in October 2001 in which 39 were killed.

8) In December 2001, the Jaish attacked the Indian Parliament.

9) Following the January 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Omar, a close aide of Azhar, the US had sought the custody of the Jaish chief, saying authorities wanted to file charges against him for his involvement in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight, which had an American citizen on board.

10) However, Pakistani authorities had turned down the US demand, saying Azhar was not a hijacker and his incarceration in India had been “illegal”.

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