Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammad may join hands. Here is why

Days after Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban, leaders of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) met with the Talibs in the 3rd week of August, reported ANI.

While quoting senior Intelligence officials, the news agency reported that JeM sought the help of the Islamist organisation in ‘India-centric operations. The forcible takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, coupled with its recent meeting with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists, has raised concerns about cross-border terrorism. The Indian intelligence agencies are expecting an influx of terrorists from Pakistan into the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

An official stated, “We have ordered intelligence agencies to keep watch on social media. On August 24, we received input regarding the movement of two terrorists from Pakistan who are planning a grenade attack in Srinagar. All agencies concerned have been alerted for coordination. All states have been alerted to conduct security drills and keep anti-terror units on high alert.” However, concerns about cross-border terrorism remain at an all-time high as Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid recently referred to Pakistan as a ‘second home’.

Not to forget, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Neelam Irshad Sheikh had claimed on live TV that the Taliban had vowed to help Pakistan in occupying Kashmir. Although the Taliban had recently stated that Jammu and Kashmir is an ‘internal issue’ of India and that issues with Pakistan must be sorted through bilateral talks, the words of the Islamist organisation cannot be taken at face value. At a time of such a geopolitical crisis, the meetup between the Talibs and JeM terrorists have brought back haunting memories of the past. The two had co-ordinated in the IC-814 hijacking and thus their alliance is not surprising at all.

The Story of IC-814 Hijack, Release of Masood Azhar And Formation of JeM

Twenty-one years ago, on December 24, 1999, the Indian Airlines IC 814 carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked by Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists. The airline was hijacked by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen with the active support and assistance of the Pakistan Army before landing at Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan. At that time, Kandahar was the base of the Taliban government and was headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

The hijackers demanded the release of 35 terrorists from Indian prisons, including the dreaded terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar in addition to $200mn in cash. However, Ajit Doval was able to bring the numbers down to 3. On December 31, 1999, after seven days, the hostage crisis came to an end as India agreed to release three of the top terrorists including Masood Azhar. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.

After his release, Maulana Masood Azhar regrouped his terror organisation, renamed his terror outfit ‘Harkat-ul-Ansar’ to ‘Harkat-ul-Mujahideen’ (HuM). A year later, Maulana Azhar, with a renewed vigour, started a new outfit – ‘Jaish-e-Mohammed’ (JeM). Azhar was actively backed up by Pakistan Army, who provided all the assistance. Even the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and multiple Sunni sectarian organisations based in Pakistan backed Azhar to set up his new terror organisation.

JeM And Its Terror Activities In India

Within a year of its inception, Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammed launched a series of deadly attacks that almost brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a full-scale war. On February 14, 2019, at least 40 CRPF men were killed in a ghastly act by a JeM suicide bomber in Lethpora in Pulwama. The terrorist, identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, rammed an SUV laden with over 300 kg of explosives into the CRPF bus that was carrying the CRPF personnel. The CRPF convoy of 70 vehicles carrying over 2000 personnel was on the way to Srinagar from Jammu after the highway opened for one way traffic after several days of closure due to heavy rainfall and subsequent landslides.

Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the suicide bomber (Fidayeen) as Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama, who had joined the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2018. They also released a recorded video message of the suicide bomber. India had exacted revenge by decimating the Jaish terrorist camps at a hilltop in Balakot, Pakistan, 13 days later in a precision airstrike carried out by Indian Air Force.

On 18th September 2016, the country woke up to one of the most dastardly attacks by Pakistan. In the wee hours of the morning, at 5:30 AM, 4 heavily armed terrorists believed to be from Jaish-e-Mohammed, attacked the Indian Army Brigade Headquarters in Uri, near the Line of Control. The terrorists lobbed 17 grenades in 3 minutes killing 17 army personnel. Within just 10 days, the Indian Army carried out unprecedented surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), annihilating at least 7 terror launchpads and inflicting heavy casualties on terrorists sheltered in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). JeM was also the mastermind behind the 2001 parliament attacks.