JeM founder Masood Azhar denies arrest

JeM founder Masood Azhar denies arrest

JeM founder Masood Azhar denies arrest

The founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Moulana Masood Azhar, on Thursday dismissed media reports about his arrest in Pakistan for the terror organisation’s alleged role in the attack on the airbase at Pathankot in India.

The radical cleric also targeted Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif in a post on Facebook. He sought to draw a parallel between activities of his terror organisation with that of Pakistan Army during wars against India.

“Non-believers around the world are celebrating my arrest – the arrest, which never happened,” Azhar said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of Al-Rehmat Trust, a front of the JeM, which was outlawed by Pakistan Government in 2002.

Azhar’s statement came a day after Geo TV of Pakistan quoted the country’s minister for frontier regions, Abdul Qadir Baloch, to report that the JeM founder and his brother Abdul Rehman Rauf had been arrested in connection with the investigation into January 3-5 terror strike on Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab.

The Pakistan government did not officially confirm the arrest of Azhar, although it claimed on Wednesday that several members of the JeM had been taken into custody during the investigation into the outfit’s role in the recent terror attack in India.

“Even if I am arrested, that will hardly make any difference. Nothing will happen, nothing. Yes, it will only fill us with more energy to pursue Jihad and our goals,” said Azhar, who set up the JeM in March 2000 following a split within Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).

Azhar was arrested in Kashmir in 1994, but New Delhi had to release him in 1999 in exchange of the passengers of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814, which was hijacked by the terrorists and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The JeM, based at Bahawalpur in Pakistan, was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US State Department in 2001.

Without naming Sharif, Azhar on Thursday referred to people in power in Pakistan as a “friend of Modi, Vajpayee and Advani (Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and Bharatiya Janata Party veteran L K Advani).

In an indirect reference to raids on JeM offices and detention of its members, Azhar questioned if the Sharif government in Islamabad would also arrest Pakistan Army personnel, who had been awarded bravery medals for fighting against India. “Those who feel Mujahideen are orphaned are living in fool’s paradise. You made Afzal Guru’s child to cry one day, and your children are crying every day,” Azhar stated on Thursday. He was obviously referring to execution of 2001 Indian Parliament attack conspirator Afzal Guru.

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