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Who is Masood Azhar? 10 things to know

The renewed demand for Azhar’s listing was raised at the United Nations Security Council after the deadly suicide bombing at Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.

india Updated: May 01, 2019 20:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Masood Azhar,Jaish-e-Mohammad,United Nations Security Council
Apart from the February 14 Pulwama attack, Masood Azhar has been involved in multiple terror strikes against India(AP File)

Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, who was listed as a global terrorist by the UN on Wednesday, is one of the few terrorists who have brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

The renewed demand for Azhar’s listing was raised at the United Nations Security Council after the deadly suicide bombing at Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.

Apart from the February 14 Pulwama attack, Masood Azhar has been involved in multiple terror strikes against India, including the October 1, 2001 suicide bombing of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar that left 39 people dead.

Here are 10 things to know about Masood Azhar:

1. Masood Azhar was born in Bahawalpur on July 19, 1968. His father Allah Bakhsh Shabir, taught at a local school and was a small-time entrepreneur who ran a dairy and poultry farm.

2. Masood Azhar studied at the Jamia Islamia at the Binori mosque in Karachi under Mufti Sayeed.

3. At the Jamia Islamia, he found himself studying beside students who were under the influence of leaders of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), a terrorist organization that was active in Afghanistan at that time, and which later extended its activities to Kashmir.

4. In 1989, Azhar returned to Jamia Islamia and took up a job as a teacher. His knowledge of Islam and jihad, soon saw him bringing out a magazine called Sada-i-Mujahid or Knock of the Mujahideen, featuring articles on HUM’s activities and the war in Afghanistan. Free copies were distributed after Friday prayers and at functions held by the Harkat.

5. In 1989, the 21-year-old Masood Azhar passed the almia (Islamic) examination with distinction. Deeply influenced by the HUM leaders and and his fellow students, Azhar had already made up his mind on what he planned to do with his future. Soon after that, he met Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil, the HUM chief, and was on his way to Afghanistan for his training.

6. All of 5 feet 3 inches tall, Masood Azhar underwent training at Yuvar, a training camp in Afghanistan, where he had great difficulty in overcoming the obstacle races and handling weapons. He couldn’t complete the mandatory 40-day training programme and later admitted after his arrest in Srinagar in 1994 that it was “because of his poor physique”.

7. Masood Azhar was released from prison on December 31, 1999 in return for 176 passengers and 15 crew members of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 at Kandahar.

8. Masood Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammad in January 31, 2000, soon after he was released in the Kandahar exchange. Addressing a gathering of 10,000 armed followers at a mosque in Karachi, he said: “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. Soldiers of Islam have come from 12 countries to free Kashmir.”

9. In 1993, he was asked to go to Jammu and Kashmir where he was to meet a sharpshooter. But he could only arrive in India a year later in 1994. On his way to India, Masood Azhar first flew to Dhaka and then to Delhi on a Portuguese passport.

10. When Masood Azhar first visited India in 1994, Srinagar was not his first port of call. Instead the Babri Masjid in Lucknow was. Reaching Ayodhya was far more important because the demolition of the Babri Masjid was the spark that ignited his desire for jihad.

First Published: May 01, 2019 20:17 IST