– MAULANA MASOOD AZHAR
Masood Azhar received his Islamic education at Jamia Uloom-i-Islami, near Karachi, which has a reputation as one of Pakistan’s leading religious universities. His education entitled him to be “Maulana”. which can be translated as “Our Teacher”.
After completing his education, Maulana Masood Azhar became a teacher at the institute for several years. In 1988, when his Principal, Mufti Ahmadur Rahman, suggested that Maulana Masood Azhar should also participate in the training course of Jihad in Afghanistan, he accepted the initiative and even participated in the last stage of the war against the Russians in Afghanistan.
Maulana Masood Azhar returned to Pakistan, probably in 1989, and went on to write several Islamic books. The most known of his books is “The Virtues of Jihad”.
In the early 90s’ he became editor of an Islamic religious magazine and the secretary of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a militant group commanded by Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, fighting in Kashmir, until his arrest in India in 1994. In India Maulana Masood Azhar was indicted of being a member in the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (the Muiahidin movement), one of the leading militant groups in Kashmir.
In 1995 an Islamic group in Kashmir kidnapped six Western tourists and called for Maulana Masood Azhar’s release. One of the hostages, a Norwegian was killed, one escaped and the remainder are missing but probably dead.
Maulana Masood Azhar was released from jail on 12/31/1999 as part of the Flight 814 hostage deal and provided safe passage to Pakistan. The ringleader of Flight 814 hijacking was his brother Ibrahim Athar. Shortly after his release Maulana Masood Azhar established, with the help of ISI, one of the most extreme Islamic groups in Pakistan – the Jaish-e-Mohammed, (Army of Muhammad). This group recruited young Muslims in India for Jihad against their own country. Jaish-e-Mohammed carried out its first suicide attack on 05/17/2000, just five months after Maulana Masood Azhar was released, at Srinagar Indian army headquarters in Badamibagh. Jaish-e-Mohammed, with Lashkar-e-Toiba, also carried out the attack on the Indian Parliament on 12/13/2001.
Maulana Masood Azhar was detained for a year by authorities in Pakistan in connection to the Indian Parliament attack, but never formally charged. The Lahore High Court ordered an end to his house arrest on 12/14/2002.
Today (08/2007) Maulana Masood Azhar is still living without any restrictions in Pakistan.
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