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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Jaish camp hit by IAF strike a hub of terror training

JeM chief Masood Azhar’s younger brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and his brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri were among jihadi leaders and clerics who attended the annual conference at Madrassa Teleemul-Quran at Jaba Top in April 2018, according to a report in JeM’s journal al-Qalam, published around the time.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 08:32 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ammunition dump in Pakistan’s Balakot that was blown up in Indian air strikes on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Ammunition dump in Pakistan’s Balakot that was blown up in Indian air strikes on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (ANI)
         

The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility at Balakot in Pakistan, which was targeted by an Indian air strike on Tuesday, was the venue for a gathering last year during which top JeM leaders extolled the role of the local madrasa in producing jihadi fighters sent to Jammu and Kashmir.

JeM chief Masood Azhar’s younger brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and his brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri were among jihadi leaders and clerics who attended the annual conference at Madrassa Teleemul-Quran at Jaba Top in April 2018, according to a report in JeM’s journal al-Qalam, published around the time.

Asghar, the deputy chief of JeM, accused of playing a key role in planning the 2016 attack on Pathankot airbase, was quoted by the journal as telling the gathering: “The youth who rise from this madrassa have broken the arrogance of the mountains of Kashmir and lit the torch of jihad there, and they will, God willing, continue to keep it alight.”

He talked about the importance of jihad in his address and mentioned how jihad had helped repulse those fighting against Islam. Mujahideen across the world, he said, are a living example of the importance of jihad and their efforts to overcome obstacles as big as the mountains shows their love for the religion.

The conference was also attended by Mufti Asghar Khan Kashmiri, considered to be one of Masood Azhar’s most trusted aides, and Mufti Mansoor Ahmad.

After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the JeM had moved its training camps to Balakot area of Pakistan’s KhyberPakhtunkhwa province, located about 40 km by road from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistanoccupied Kashmir. The JeM facility at Jaba Top near Balakot is believed to be one of the largest and oldest run by the group that has been banned by the US and the UN.

A secret US department of defence document on Guantanamo detainee Hafez K Rahman, leaked by WikiLeaks, said he was moved to the detention camp in Cuba in February 2002 “because of his knowledge of the Moaskar training camp in Balakot, (Pakistan)”. This is an apparent reference to the same JeM facility that was targeted in the strike on Tuesday.

Rahman, a Pakistani national, was trained at JeM camps and then fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan before he was captured by the Northern Alliance, the document said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 08:31 IST

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