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Hamad Azhar’s name new to intel agencies

Indian activists carry placards of the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Maulana Masood Azhar, in Mumbai on January 4, 2016 during a protest against the attack on the air force base in Pathankot. China has justified its decision to block India’s move to designate Azhar as a global terrorist saying Beijing was acting in accordance with the guidelines of the 15-member 1267 counter-terrorism committee of the United Nations Security Council.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Hamad Azhar, who Pakistani authorities claimed to have taken into preventive detention, finds no mention in records of intelligence agencies in India. His name has not featured so far in any of the dossiers on the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), officials told The Hindu.

Pakistan took 44 members of banned organisations, including Hamad and JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Raoof, into preventive detention, its Ministry of Interior said on March 5.

A top official from Indian intelligence said the “senior leadership of JeM had always been close family members,” and the “44 detentions made by Pakistan had nothing to do with Indian dossiers, though some of the names do figure in these dossiers.”

A senior government official said the JeM was run like a “family enterprise” by Masood Azhar and though others in the family had figured in investigations, there was no mention or reference to Hamad yet.

“Maybe Hamad was still being groomed for bigger roles. There is no mention of his name in any of the interrogation reports of suspects related to JeM here,” said the official.

Abdul Raoof was most recently named by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for “conspiring and executing” the terrorist attack at Pathankot airbase in Punjab on January 2, 2016 when seven security personnel were killed. He had also planned and executed the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC 814 in 1999. In exchange for the hijacked passengers, Masood Azhar was released from a Delhi prison where he was lodged since his arrest in 1994. After his release, he went on to form the JeM.

“44 persons taken under ‘preventive detention’ by Pak agencies are reportedly from many proscribed outfits, including JeM. Pakistan claims that it was their own action aimed at curbing terrorism,” the top official said.

Prominent office-bearers of the JeM include Qari Mansoor Ahmed; Nazim (head of the propaganda wing), Abdul Jabbar-Nazim, military affairs; Sajjad Usman, in charge of finance, Shah Nawaz Khan alias Sajjid Jehadi and Gazi Baba, chief commander J&K and Raoof Asghar, launching commander.

A senior official said that Masood Azhar’s nephew Waqas, JeM’s commander in South Kashmir was killed in an encounter near Pulwama in March 2018.

In November 2017, another of his nephews, Talha Rashid, was also killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama.

His brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar is said to have overseen the operations of the the Balakot terror camp that was hit in a precision strike by the Indian Air Force on February 26. It is not clear if Yusuf was killed in the attack. As reported earlier, Yusuf Azhar alias Mohammad Salim alias Ustad Ghouri is a Hindu who converted to Islam and married the JeM chief’s sister. He is wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the 1999 hijacking case and a red corner notice was issued against him.


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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 1:59:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/hamad-azhars-name-new-to-intel-agencies/article26483801.ece

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