By Zia Ur Rehman
January 15, 2016
In the ongoing countrywide crackdown against the Jaish-e-Muhammad, a banned Jihadi group, law enforcement agencies have arrested a number of its members and sympathisers in different parts of Karachi, The News learnt on Thursday.
Law enforcement agencies reportedly arrested JeM chief Maulana Masood Azahar on Wednesday in the Bahawalpur district of Punjab in connection with an attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot, besides detaining dozens of members of the group, according to media reports.
Interviews with members of various religious and Jihadi groups and seminaries’ officials in Karachi suggest that law enforcement agencies have picked up a number of people associated, currently or previously, with the JeM and its charity front, the Al-Rehmat Trust, from different parts of the city.
The crackdown on the JeM also forced a number of its members to go underground, because of fear of arrests, said an administrator in a seminary in Karachi. “A large number of the JeM members have joined other religio-political parties and Jihadi groups, such as the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl and the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat because of the JeM’s long hibernation.”
The JeM, on its official Facebook page, Maktab-ul-Ameer, said in its brief message that the law enforcement agencies’ arresting its member cannot affect the activities and cause of the organisation, the BBC Urdu reported.
However, officials of the police and other law enforcement agencies refused to confirm the arrests. “In their regular policing, law enforcement agencies pick up suspects affiliated with banned militant outfits. We don’t know which specific law enforcement agency is behind arresting the JeM members in the city,” said a senior police official, requesting anonymity.
In Karachi, the JeM had an active and strong organisational set-up. After the government’s imposition of a ban on the JeM in 2002, the group started working under new names – the Tehreek-ul-Furqan and then the Khuddam ul-Islam. However, in 2003, the group split after Azhar expelled its 12 leaders, including the group’s Karachi head, Abdullah Shah Mazhar, who, along with commander Abdul Jabbar, later took the name of the Tehreek-ul-Furqan.
The split led to violent clashes between the groups over the control of assets and funds. “The most violent clash between the two groups was over control of Masjid Bataha in the Sakhi Hasan neighborhood, in which a number of their members were injured,” said a seminary teacher, who is aware of the differences. Abdullah Mazhar, who is now part of the JUI-F, had also escaped an assassination attempt in the Bahadurabad area.