|When terrorists fall
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Sakhi Hassan, situated in the Central district
of Karachi, is known as a breeding place for militants
belonging to different ethnic groups, jihadis and
sectarian diehards. On June 22, the area echoed with
gunfire and police sirens. The fighting, in which
several people were injured, erupted at Battha Mosque
and seminary, owned by the outlawed Jaish-I-Mohammed.
Some people believe the fight was the climax of
prolonged tension between rival groups within Jaish, the
most controversial militant organization in Asia.
Dozens of armed activists belonging to two
groups of Jaish-I-Mohammed surrounded the Battha
seminary and exchanged fire over their rival claims to
ownership of the property, which was owned by
Jaish-I-Mohammed before it split into several groups.
Jaish-I-Mohammed insiders tell a long story
about the division of the organization, and the vested
interests, corruption and greed, and deep conflict on
strategic affairs behind the split.
Jaish-I-Mohammed, which was renamed Khudamul Islam after it
was banned by the government of President General Pervez
Musharraf, emerged from Harkatul Mujahadin when its
founder, Maulana Masood Azhar, was released by India after
a dramatic hijack of an Air India plane. As soon as
Masood reached Karachi, he announced his parting of ways
with Harkatul Mujahadeen and the establishment of his
own militant group, Jaish-I-Mohammed. The organization
was widely supported by the country's top Islamic
scholars. Its dramatic emergence was seen as a ploy by
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence to keep the network of
jihadi organizations divided so that they could easily
affairs have long been controversial, with several
members of the organization accusing the chief of the
organization and his "kitchen cabinet" of using Jaish
resources to enrich themselves.
Jaish-I-Mohammed and al-Rasheed Trust (which is also
blacklisted by the US State Department) are
close. When Jaish-I-Mohammed was founded, al-Rasheed Trust donated
Rs20 million ($360,000) as seed money. Later, thousands of
people joined Jaish and helped raise funds, to the
estimated tune of Rs1 million a day.
A large chunk of
this money was spent on building training camps and such
things as the medical bills of wounded fighters.
However, at the same time, the lifestyles of the Jaish
leaders took a sharp turn for the better.
Maulana Masood Azhar, who came from a
lower-class family background and used to live in a
destitute area of Bahawalpur, moved to a posh area
called Model Colony Bahawalpur. Jaish's mushrooming
assets, including publications, seminaries, offices, and
bunglows, were given to Masood Azhar's relatives to
supervise, and they too experienced a sudden upturn in
the quality of life.
This, and other things such as
their traveling in expensive sport-utility vehicles and
their large entourages of gunmen, irked many sincere
Jaish members who had spent years on the grim fronts of
Afghanistan and Kashmir.
However, the funds kept
pouring in and the and mesmerizing speeches of Masood
kept pouring out, and Jaish kept rolling on.
Unlike other militant organizations, Jaish
adopted a strange strategy of suicidal attacks on both
civilian and military Indian targets. This raised the
eyebrows of many, including those associated with other
militant organizations who saw it as a move to malign
the Kashmiri freedom movement.
September 11, 2001,
precipitated a turnaround in Jaish’s affairs. Masood
kept a mysterious silence on the US attack on Afghanistan,
while many Jaish members advocated retaliatory
attacks within Pakistan to force the government
not to cooperate with the United States. Masood’s
deafening silence caused the organization to spilt.
Many Jaish operators quietly moved to
Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. Many brought
Arab fighters back to Pakistan and provided them safe
shelter. Although these activists had not announced
their separation from Jaish, it was understood very well
that they intended to build their own strategy of taking
on the country's establishment. A cold war began between
those who were running the affairs of Jaish and those
who were parting ways.
incidents occurred, including the killing of Christians in
a Bahawalpur church. Many of the activists
allegedly involved in these incidents were arrested, and
it is believed they were fingered by those who ruled the
Jaish roost. Similarly, the arrest of several key
al-Qaeda operators, including Abu Zubaida, was the
result of the same rift within Jaish.
in Jaish's coffin was the removal of its chief supreme
commander, Maualana Jabbar, and his replacement by
Masood's brother, Ibrahim. This caused a major rift and
the organization, renamed Khudamul Islam, was officially
divided into factions.
The clerics at Binori
Mosque in Karachi - Jaish's mentors - withdrew their
support and demanded reform of the organization's
financial setup and strategic matters.
The breaking-up of Jaish is supposed to be a bad news for
the US, India and Pakistan's ruling establishment, as
Maulana Masood Azhar is now free to go anywhere in the
country and once again call for jihad.
the fact is that Jaish-I-Mohammed was an organization of
more than 50,000 organized youths, of whom 10,000 were
active fighters. At present, the organization has been
split into at least 10 groups. Two groups, led
respectively by Maulana Azhar and Umer Farooq, are
known, while the rest are hiding underground and have
chosen a path of no compromise with the Pakistani
establishment, the West, and India.
unknown and uncontrollable warriors are the actual
threat. They are spread all over the region, and are
desperate to avenge the Taliban's fall and the arrest of
al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.
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