JeM Chief Had Said He Wanted To Liberate Kashmir

10 December 2008
The Times of India


New Delhi: 'We fight for religion and do not believe in the concept of nation-state.' That's what JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar told interrogators after he was caught by an Army major in Anantnag in Kashmir Valley in 1994. The dreaded terrorist, also known as 'Baby Elephant' for bulky built has been in the news for links with terror attacks in India ever since he was released in 1999 as part of the Kandahar hijack hostage swap. The major, who was later posted at Bihar's Danapur cantonment till 2004 and has since retired to settle in Delhi, recalled he caught the JeM chief in course of patrolling in Anantnag on February 11, 1994. He did not want to be quoted by name. 'We took it as a run-of-the-mill catch and it was only later that we came to know about the man's secret links with Osama bin Laden,' he said and added Azhar's close associate Sajjid Afghani was also caught along with him. Giving details of how Azhar was arrested, the retired officer said an Army patrol which was being headed by him saw an autorickshaw standing at a secluded place in Anantnag. As the party came close to them, the four occupants tried to flee. Since Azhar wasa knock kneed he could not run fast and was overpowered. Soon Afghani too was caught. However, two others managed to escape, he said. Initially the Army did not realise Masood was a prime catch. But in the next four days officers intercepted calls from Pakistan-based terrorists on higher frequecies revealing that Azhar was a 'big terrorist'. During the course of intense interrogation, Azhar admitted that he was the same person. The Army also seized $70,000 from Azhar. The JeM chief reportedly admitted that the outfit was getting financial aid from Islamic countries and the United Knigdom. Azhar talked tall during interrogation. 'Soldiers of Islam, belonging to 12 countries, have infiltrated into India to liberate Kashmir. We fight for religion and do not believe in the concept of nation-states. We want Islam to rule the world,' the terrorist was quoted as telling interrogators. Azhar had then entered India on a fake passport made in Gujarat via Bangladesh with an aim to set up an advanced arms training camp in Doda district in J&K, Army sources said.