Masood Azhar

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Masood Azhar
Born (1968-07-10) 10 July 1968 (age 49)
Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan
Allegiance Harkat-ul-Ansar, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad

Masood Azhar (Urdu: محمد مسعود اظہر) is the founder and leader of the UN-designated[1] terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, active mainly in the Pakistani administered Azad Kashmir.[2] Pakistani authorities took him into 'protective custody' after the Pathankot attack in India,[3] which was widely reported as an "arrest".[4] However he was seen to be free in April 2016.[5] India had listed Masood Azhar as one of its most wanted terrorists due to his history of militant activities.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Azhar was born in Bahawalpur, Punjab on 10 July 1968 as one of ten siblings[8] although some sources list his birth date as 7 August 1968 as the third of 11 children.[7] Azhar's father, Allah Bakhsh Shabbir, was the headmaster at a government-run school, and his family operated a dairy and poultry farm. Azhar studied at the Jamia Uloom ul Islamia Banuri Town in Karachi, where he became involved with Harkat-ul-Ansar. After he suffered injuries in the Soviet-Afghan War, Azhar was chosen as the head of Harkat's department of motivation and became an editor for the Urdu-language Sad’e Mujahidin and the Arabic-language Sawte Kashmir.[7][8]

Azhar later became the general secretary of Harkat-ul-Ansar and visited many international locations to recruit, to raise funds and to spread the message of Pan-Islamism. Among his destinations were Zambia, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, the United Kingdom and Albania.[8]

Activities in Somalia[edit]

Azhar confessed that in 1993 he traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to meet with leaders of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, an al-Qaeda-aligned Somali group, who had requested money and recruits from Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). Indian intelligence officials believe that he made at least three trips to Somalia and that he also helped bring Yemeni mercenaries to Somalia.[9]

Activities in the UK[edit]

In August 1993 Azhar entered the UK for a speaking, fundraising, and recruitment tour. His message of jihad was given at some of Britain's most prestigious Islamic institutions including the Darul Uloom Bury seminary, Zakariya Mosque, Madina Masjid in Blackburn and Burnley, and Jamia Masjid. His message was that "substantial proportion of the Koran had been devoted to 'killing for the sake of Allah' and that a substantial volume of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad were on the issue of jihad." Azhar made contacts in Britain who helped to provide training and logistical support the terror plots including "7/7, 21/7 and the attempt in 2006 to smuggle liquid bomb-making substances on to transatlantic airlines."[10]

Arrest in India[edit]

In early 1994, Azhar travelled to Srinagar to ease tensions between Harkat-ul-Ansar's feuding factions of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.[8] India arrested him in February and imprisoned him for his terrorist activities with the groups.[9]

In 1995, six foreign tourists were kidnapped in Jammu and Kashmir. The kidnappers, referring to themselves as Al-Faran, included the release of Masood Azhar among their demands.[8] One of the hostages managed to escape, another was found dead on 13 August 1995. The other four were never seen or heard from since 1995.[11][12]

In December 1999, he was freed by the Indian government in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC814) that had eventually landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which at the time the Taliban controlled.[13] The hijackers of IC814 were led by Masood Azhar's brother,[14] Ibrahim Athar. His release from Kot Bhalwal jail was supervised by an IPS officer, S P Vaid.[15] His younger brother Abdul Rauf Asghar had planned this attack. Once Masood Azhar was handed over to the hijackers, they fled to Pakistani territory. Pakistan had said the hijackers would be arrested if found, a difficult task given the length of the border and multitude of access points from Afghanistan. The Pakistani government also previously indicated that Azhar would be allowed to return home since he did not face any charges there.[16]

Shortly after his release, Azhar made a public address to an estimated 10,000 people in Karachi. He proclaimed, "I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed India," vowing to liberate the Kashmir region from Indian rule.[16]


Masood Azhar's outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed allegedly carried out a string of deadly attacks against Indian targets, including the attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001 that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a full-scale war.[17] Soon after the Indian parliament attack, Masood Azhar was detained for a year by Pakistani authorities in connection but was never formally charged. The Lahore High Court ordered an end to the house arrest on 14 December 2002, much to the fury of India.[6]

2008 Mumbai attacks[edit]

On 7 December 2008, it was claimed that he was among several arrested by the Pakistani government after a military raid on a camp located on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He continued to live in Bhawalpur.[18][19] Pakistan's government denied it had arrested Masood Azhar and said it was unaware of his whereabouts [20] On 26 January 2014, Masood Azhar reappeared after a seclusion of six years. He addressed a rally in Muzaffarabad, calling for the resumption of jihad in Kashmir. His group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, claims he is currently in Srinagar, India.[21]

2016 Pathankot attack[edit]

The 2016 Pathankot attack on Indian air base is said to be masterminded by Masood Azhar and his brother. They were in direct touch with terrorists even after the attack had begun. Indian investigative agencies have given dossiers containing proofs of Azhar's complicity in the terror attack and also sough a second ʽred corner noticeʼ from ʽInterpolʼ.[22][23]


The U.S. Treasury is prohibiting Americans from "engaging in any transactions" with three Pakistan-based militants and a front group. Al Rehmat Trust, called "an operational front" for Jaish-e Mohammed, was designated for providing support to and for acting for or on behalf of that group, and Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi, Jaish-e Mohammed's founder and leader, was designated for acting on behalf of the group.[24][25]

The Chinese government blocked a UN Security Council Sanctions Committee listing of Azhar as a terrorist, thwarting international efforts to disrupt the activities of his group.[26][27]

China moved to protect Azhar again in October 2016 when it blocked India's appeal to the United Nations to label him as a terrorist.[28] China also blocked US move to get Masood Azhar banned by UN in February 2017.[29]


He wrote many books on Jihad in Urdu. Some of them are as follows:

  • Fazail e Jihad
  • Khutbaat e Jihad
  • Muskurate Zakhm
  • Darus e Jihad
  • Zaad e Mujahid
  • Azadi Mukammal Ya Adhori
  • Fath ul Jawwad[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gunaratna, Rohan; Kam, Stefanie (2016), Handbook of Terrorism in the Asia–Pacific, World Scientific, ISBN 978-1-78326-997-6 
  2. ^ "The astonishing rise of Jaish-e-Mohammed: It's bad news for Kashmir, India and Pakistan". FirstPost. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Jaish's Masood Azhar under 'protective custody', confirms Punjab Law Minister, Dawn, 15 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Pakistan Arrests JeM Militants After Pathankot Airbase Attack". Geo News. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  5. ^ JeM's Azhar lives freely in Pakistan, govt never detained him: Report, Hindustan Times, 26 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Indian fury over freed militant". BBC News. 2002-12-14. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  7. ^ a b c India's most wanted. 19. Frontline. 2002. ISBN 0066210631. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Maulana Masood Azhar". Kashmir Herald. 1 (8). January 2002. 
  9. ^ a b Watson, Paul; Sidhartha Barua (2002-02-25). "Somalian Link Seen to Al Qaeda". LA Times. Archived from the original on 2002-02-25. 
  10. ^ "The man who brought jihad to Britain in 1993". BBC. Apr 4, 2016. 
  11. ^ "IndoPak: New book claims India-backed group killed kidnapped Kashmir tourists". Public Radio International. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  12. ^ "Middlesbrough hostage Keith Mangan abducted in Kashmir 20 years ago today". 4 July 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  13. ^ Gannon, Kathy (1999-12-31). "Hopes for end to jet hijack". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  14. ^ Jaleel, Muzamil (6 June 2016). "After Kandahar swap, India offered Taliban cash to get me: JeM chief". London: The IndianExpress. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  15. ^ Template:(cite web
  16. ^ a b Hussain, Zahid (2000-01-05). "Freed Militant Surfaces". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2000-09-01. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  17. ^ Tanner, Marcus (2001-12-17) Pakistan blamed by India for raid on parliament. The Independent
  18. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (2008-12-18). "Restrictions put on Masood Azhar". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 
  19. ^ "JeM chief Masood Azhar under house arrest". Times of India. 2008-12-09. 
  20. ^ "Pakistan denies militant arrested". BBC News. 2008-12-18. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Jaish chief Masood Azhar identified as mastermind of Pathankot terror attack - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  23. ^ Desk, The Hindu Net. "The 1267 Committee, China's hold and Masood Azhar: A short history". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  24. ^ "U.S. Treasury targets Pakistani militants". CNN. 2010-11-04. 
  25. ^ US Department of the Treasury Archived 2010-11-11 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-03-14.
  26. ^ "China's move to block ban against Azhar came just before deadline". The Hindu. April 2, 2016. 
  27. ^ Sutirtho Patranobis (April 23, 2016). "China fumes after India issues visa to Uyghur 'terrorist'". Hindustan Times. 
  28. ^ China supports Terrorist Azhar again, blocks India's move to ban him
  29. ^
  30. ^ Rang-o-Noor رنگ و نور. Retrieved on 2013-03-14.
  31. ^ Fath-ul-Jawwad فتح الجوّاد فی معارف آیات الجہاد. Retrieved on 2013-03-14.

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