On November 15th 2023, it was reported, Dilawar Iqbal an important aide of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief, Maulana Masood Azhar and another individual, Mohammed Ubaid Malik were charge sheeted by National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India for inciting violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
Muhammad Dilawar Iqbal, is a resident of Abbaspur in POJK and is known to use many aliases such as Maaz Khan Kashmiri and Azad Kashmiri while carrying out his operations in India.
According to various reports, Dilawar Iqbal was found influencing and brainwashing the Kashmiri youth against India while encouraging them to conduct terrorism activities in Kashmir, in accordance with the ideologies of Jaish-e-Mohammed and its jihadi affiliates.
According to Stanford University Mapping Militant Organizations’ report, JeM “aims to unite Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan,” and that the outfit also promotes the “destruction” of India and America.
In order to incite the youth, clips of inflammatory audio and video of Maulana Masood Azhar Alvi were circulated, where Azhar was seen and heard inciting the congregation by preaching radical Islam. Various videos of encounters in Kashmir Valley by Indian security forces were also shared. This was done to project the terrorists as ordinary civilians, who fell victims to the hostility of the Indian security forces. Dilawar was found to use this narrative to urge the Kashmiri youth into lifting arms against the security forces.
It is also important to mention that Dilawar was the handler for Ubaid Malik. Malik was arrested by the NIA in May 2023 for being a close associate of the JeM and for abetting and exchanging sensitive information of the security forces in Kashmir with the outfit.
Since June 21st 2022, NIA has been investigating the terror conspiracy case in Kashmir. The possibility of sleeper cells or anti-India terrorist operatives becoming active in Kashmir is becoming a concern.
Most cases coming into focus are the ones which involve Pakistan-based terrorist organisations who plan to “unleash violent terrorist attacks in J&K with sticky bombs, IEDs and small arms, etc” in Kashmir.
It is evident that even in case of Dilawar Iqbal, there was a clear connection with Pakistan and the intent was to influence, recruit and activate local youth groups and ground workers for acts of terrorism. Similarly, this has been a common approach with the recently formed groups as well, such as Jammu & Kashmir Freedom Fighters (JKFF), United Liberation Front Jammu & Kashmir (ULFJ&K), The Resistance Front (TRF), Mujahideen Gazwat-ul-Hind (MGH), Kashmir Tigers, PAAF etc.
Most of the anti India local Kashmiri outfits are revealed to be affiliated with many larger and known terrorist outfits like the Laskhar-e-Tayiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Al-Badr, Al-Qaeda, etc. It is assumed that the newer groups may be dependent on the donorship or sponsorship of already established outfits.
Recently, with the ongoing probes and raids conducted by NIA in Kashmir, several properties and assets were recovered which belonged to JeM cadre and their affiliates.
Recently, the police sealed off a shop in Anantnag district called ‘The Game Modification Point’. Upon investigation, it was found that the shop was owned by Umar Amin Thoker, a JeM terrorist who used the shop for terror activities in the area.
Thoker along with four other JeM terrorists were arrested in connection with the murder of Deepak Kumar, a resident of Udhampur district.
The arrested terrorists were all linked with an outfit called Kashmir Freedom Fighters (KFF). The KFF is an offshoot of proscribed terrorist outfit JeM.
On Nov 16th 2023, The State Investigation Agency (SIA) of Jammu and Kashmir Police attached an apple orchard belonging to a JeM over ground worker in Pulwama.
On basis of the cases erupting in Kashmir, we can assume that JeM ground workers are active and are certainly functioning clandestinely under the garb of civilians and if not, are procuring assets through recruitment. It is highly possible that some are sleeper cells which are already activated or in wait for activation to carry out terror activities.
As many terror groups are affiliated with the likes of JeM, it is possible there is ample fundraising being done to carry out actions in Kashmir either through criminal activities such as robberies, kidnappings, murders or drug trades etc or through zakat.
Pakistan shouts wolf
On Nov 13th 2023,a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist and also a close aide of Masood Azhar, Maulana Raheem Ullah Tariq was found shot dead in Karachi’s Orangi town.
Pakistan’s ARY News reported, Tariq was targeted and killed on his way to a religious gathering by unidentified men who drew multiple rounds of bullets on him.
Interesting enough the Karachi police were quick to disseminate the notion of killing of the terrorist as a “targeted killing” and an “act of terrorism” instead of a possible inter gang rivalry.
In case of Tariq’s killing, the Pakistani authorities are investigating the possible involvement of local terrorists and the possible discord amongst the JeM cadres which could also be a plausible motive for the murder of Tariq. The police officials stated that a mobile phone and other important items were recovered from Tariq, while 9mm bullet spent shells were also found at the crime scene.
This is the third high-profile killing of a terrorist in Pakistan, who was involved in terrorist attacks on India by some “unknown men”. And as expected, Pakistan like Canada, was determined to point its lack or failure in investigation of the supposed culprits on India. By doing so, it serves its purpose to present India in a bad light, strengthen the Canadian narrative of India ordering extra judicial killings of terrorists on foreign soil, while hiding its own inability to conduct an investigation or its lack of security capabilities.
This was evident in other instances as well, where 18India centric terrorists were murdered in Pakistan and where Pakistan unable to identify the assailants turned to blame India as a very matter of fact possibility.
Earlier this month, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Akram Ghazi was also bumped off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. Prior to his killing, Khwaja Shahid, one of the culprits behind the Sunjuwan terror attack in J&K in 2018, was also kidnapped and found decapitated near the Line of Control (LOC) in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK).
Daud Malik, another close associate of Masood Azhar, was killed in Waziristan in October.
With several anti-India terrorists being eliminated in an allegorical fashion in regards to the choice of place and location to show some connection to India, it would certainly make it easier for Pakistan to push the buck on India. The question begged to be answered is, have these terror assets of ISI become a serious burden in terms of pennies for the cash strapped Pakistani government that the solution called for termination of the assets with the finger pointing at India?
With several JeM operatives being caught in Kashmir, it is certain that its tentacles are visibly active in Kashmir and other parts of India.
JeM, its leader and its activities
Jaish-e-Mohammed based in Pakistan, is also known as “the Army of Mohammed”. It is a Deobandi jihadist group, whose aim is to sever Kashmir from India so it can merge with Pakistan.
It was formed in 2001by Masood Azhar with the blessings of Pakistan’s ISI.
Prior to founding JeM, Azhar was the senior leader of Harakut ul-Ansar, also known as Harat-ul-Mujahideen or Harakat ul-Mujahideen. This too wasa Pakistan-based outfit, whose main modus operandi was to oppose the Soviet forces and strengthen jihad in Afghanistan.
According to the Australian National Security, JeM is estimated to have “several hundred members” but the complete organizational structure of the outfit remains unknown.
On basis of many sources, it is confirmed that JeM has continued to maintain strong ties with the Taliban. Apart from the obvious ISI involvement in the formation of JeM, the group was favourably supported by Osama bin Laden, the Afghan Taliban, AL-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Rashid Trust and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and other jihadist groups.
JeMhad on many occasions has also received funding from Al-Qaeda.
Politically, it aligned with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazlur Rehman faction (JUI-F) in Pakistan. Due to its strong ties with the Afghan Taliban,JUI-F faced a massive attack from ISIS Khorasan at its political rally this year.
JeM has a strong hold in Pakistan’s Punjab and operates both internally and externally out of Pakistan. It is evident that Masood Azhar operates from Bahawalpur, hence it is no surprise that JeM’s headquarters is located in Bahawalpur. This wouldn’t be possible if the outfit had no support or aid from Islamabad.
JeM was among the first jihadist organizations to launch suicide attacks in Kashmir. Since its conception, it has launched suicide attacks on military camps, army bases, as well as public places in Kashmir and other parts of India. As expected from a terror outfit, its objective was to launch attacks in high population density areas killing the large number of people and security personnel.
In 2001,JeMhas been responsible for the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. The group was proscribed and banned by India under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) on October 25, 2001. On December 26, 2001, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, also designated the outfit as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Since the ban on JeM, similar in case of another banned group SIMI (later PFI) changed its name from JeM to Tehrik-ul-Furqan.
According to Jamestown Foundation, JeM is considered to be “the second most lethal India-centric terror group based in the Pakistani Punjab,” which consists of a highly inspired militant youth cadre. This was also apparent in the operations carried by Dilawar Iqbal in Kashmir where the primary targeted recruits were the youth.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), JeM has continued its activities in Pakistan as “an educational and religious charity” under the name of Al-Rahmat Trust (ART). This Trust became fundamental in garnering donor ship and recruitment of terrorists fighting in Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
By2003,it was reported that JeM divided into two factions, Jamaat ul-Furqan (JuF) and Khuddam-ul-Islam (KuI).Despite the division, both are viewed as a single entity JeM.
In 2011,JeMwas reported to have resurrected itself with full-scale public activities such as several fundraising activities under the noses of the Pakistani security personnel. It is believed, since the Pakistan Muslim League came to power, JeM went through a silent revival.
Since its ban, their leader Maulana Masood Azhar also resurfaced in January 2014, where he addressed his supporters “by phone” at a rally in Muzaffarabad. The purpose of the rally was to promote a a book written by a former JeM leader, Mohammad Afzal Guru. Afzal Guru was executed in India in 2013 for his role in the attack on the Indian parliament. Interesting enough, Azhar used the Muzaffarabad] rally as a platform to ask Pakistan to “‘lift restrictions on jihad'” and to warn India of its intention to avenge the execution of Afzal Guru.
Since then, Azhar has threatened to also kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has also made claims to dispatching its fidayeens to attack India.
In December 2014, Indian securities had issued two airport security alerts, due to possibility of a plane hijacking by the members of JeM.
In January 2015, the Sunday Guardian also reported, a unit of Pakistan army’s Special Services Group had been deployed “near the International Border to help terrorists belonging to Lashkhar-E-Taiba and Jaish-E-Mohammed to infiltrate into India”
In January 2016, JeMcarried the Pathankot attack.
In September 2016, the group was also involved in an attack on an army camp at Uri, Kashmir.
On 14 February 2019, a JeM fidayeen called Adil Ahmad Dar, was responsible for a suicide bombing on a convoy of security vehicles near Pulwama, which ended the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
With the new evidence of JeM modules and sleeper cells being caught in Kashmir, it is expected that the Indian authorities will continue a serious Crack down on the terrorist groups. It is vital that a surveillance be carried on various institutions, groups and madrasas where one could expect anti India jihadist entities to infiltrate and influence the Kashmiri youth.
Over the years, the jihadist networks have spread their roots into Kashmir and various parts of India through their religious propaganda and through their active recruitments under the name of false charities and NGOs. It would be imperative to observe and increase the protocols for registering and acknowledging the legitimacy of various organizations and charitieswhilemonitoring the over seas funding which may be received by them through ISI channels in form of zakat.
It remains yet to be seen, to what extent Pakistan may weave its asinine narrative against India while continuing its Tom foolery by nurturing monsters like the JeM.