Jaish On Verge Of Extinction In Kashmir

Jaish On Verge Of Extinction In Kashmir

25 July 2013
Free Press Kashmir
Azad Qadri

Srinagar: Two of the three last surviving commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group which attacked the Parliament in 2001, have been killed this year leaving the once formidable outfit with a total cadre capacity of eight militants in Kashmir, the lowest figure since it was formed 13 years ago. Qari Yasir, the chief operational commander of the outfit in Kashmir valley, was killed on Tuesday morning at a village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. A police official said Yasir, resident of Swat valley of Pakistan, had been wounded and had come down to the village for treatment. “It was a mix of human intelligence and technical input which led us to him. He was in the village for two days to get his wound treated when he got trapped,” the official said. Yasir had succeeded Qari Hamaad, alias Sajad Afghani, in 2011 when the latter was killed along with his bodyguard at the Foreshore road in the city here. After infiltrating into Kashmir in 2006, Yasir grew quickly within the ranks of the outfits. He quickly gained his order in the outfit from a platoon commander to Chief Commander within a span of five years, the official said. Yasir is the second senior commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad who has been killed this year. Last month, the outfit’s Divisional Commander Altaf Ahmad Baba was killed along with another Jaish-e-Mohammad militant Mohammad Abbas in a gunbattle in south Kashmir. Both were resident of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Its number in Kashmir is now believed to be at 8, which includes three local and five Pakistani militants, police sources said. The group’s only surviving commander in Kashmir, a Pakistani national, operates from hideouts in the jungles of Kupwara. Jaish-e-Mohammad was formed in January 2000 by Maulana Masood Azhar, days after he along with two others were released in Kandahar in exchange for release of passengers aboard the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814. Azhar was a former Harkat-ul-Ansar commander who had spent six years in Indian jails before his release in December 1999. The group emerged on the militant scene in Kashmir within months after its formation and marked a dramatic escalation in the conflict. The first attack, which signaled the arrival of the new outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad, targeted the Army’s 15 Corps headquarter in the city here when an 18-year-old Srinagar boy detonated a car-bomb outside its main entrance in April 2000. It was for the first time that a human bomber was introduced in the then decade-old Kashmir conflict. A few months later, in December, the Army’s 15 Corps headquarter was again under attack by a suicide bomber – who was later identified as Jaish-e-Mohammad militant Mohammad Bilal (24) from Birmingham, England. The group was also involved in several high profile attacks inside and outside Kashmir including the attack on Parliament in New Delhi and the state Legislative Assembly in the city here. However, after the 9-11 Al Qaeda attack on US and the subsequent u-turn of Pakistan government against its former Islamist allies, several key militant commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad shifted their bases and allegiances closer to Taliban and Al Qaeda. Adnan Rasheed, the militant commander who recently wrote an open letter to Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai and had earlier been sentenced to death for attempting to assassinate Pakistan dictator Parvez Musharaf, was formerly associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad. Rasheed, once an officer with Pakistan Air Force, is now the Taliban. Maulana Asmatullah Moavia, a former Jaish-e-Mohammad militant, is now the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab which is affiliated to Al Qaeda. In the aftermath of 9-11, Jaish-e-Muhammad also split into two factions – Masood Azhar’s Khuddam-ul-Islam and Haji Abdul Jabbar’s Jama’at-e-Furqan.