Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM)

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Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM)

LEADER: Maulana Masood Azhar


USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Jammu & Kashmir, India


Jaish-E-Mohammed (JEM) is a Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group formed by Maulana Masood Azhar, in 2000. Though it is relatively a newer terrorist outfit, it is rapidly gaining momentum in the terrorist activities arena in the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) region of India. JEM is known by numerous other names, including Army of Mohammed, Army of the Prophet Mohammed, Jaish-e-Mohammad (Muhammed), Jaish-e-Mohammed Mujahideen E-Tanzeem, Jaish-i-Mohammed (Mohammed, Muhammad, Muhammed), Jeish-e-Mahammed, Khuddam-ul-Islam, Mohammed's Army, National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty and Army of the Prophet, and Tehrik Ul-Furqaan.

In 2001, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell designated JEM as a foreign terrorist organization. In 2003, the JEM was re-designated as a foreign terrorist organization. Subsequently, Pakistani authorities banned the organization and froze its assets. However, the group allegedly continues to operate and is held responsible by Indian intelligence officials for various terrorist strikes against India.


In 1994, Maulana Masood Azhar, a prominent member of a terrorist group known as the Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), was arrested by the Indian authorities. Masood Azhar was allegedly involved with al-Qaeda and fought against the U.S. troops in Somalia. Several unsuccessful attempts were reportedly made by HUA to free Masood Azhar. In 1994, HUA kidnapped several American and British nationals in New Delhi, and in 1995 more Western tourists were kidnapped in Kashmir, to demand Masood Azhar's release from Indian authorities. The Indian government refused to give in to their demands. However, the authorities were forced to release him in 1999, when several HUA terrorists allegedly hijacked an Indian Airlines aircraft carrying 155 passengers and flew it to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Soon after his release from jail, Azhar reportedly met with Osama bin Laden and obtained financial and tactical support from him to form his own militant organization, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, or Army of the Prophet (Mohammed). Meanwhile, the HUA was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State. According to published reports in the Indian media, the HUA changed its name to Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) to avoid ramifications of the ban.

JEM was floated, in Pakistan, allegedly with the approval of three prominent scholars of religious schools (in Pakistan): Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai of the Majlis-e-Tawan-e-Islami (MT), Maulana Mufti Rashid Ahmed of the Dar-ul Ifta-e-wal-Irshad, and Maulana Sher Ali of the Sheikh-ul-Hadith Dar-ul Haqqania. Analysts state that Masood Azhar had garnered huge popularity and earned the respect of his colleagues after his coerced freedom from the Indian authorities. The Indian intelligence authority alleges that JEM was formed with the help of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Osama bin Laden, the Taliban government of Afghanistan (at the time), and several Islamic extremists based in Pakistan. Analysts assert that when Masood Azhar formed JEM, he was planning on naming the group Lashkar-e-Mohammed, but decided against it as it could be easily confused with another existing Islamic extremist organization known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Some of the eminent HUM members were reportedly not too happy with Azhar's decision to form a new organization. The groups continued to coexist in spite of the fact that several top members from the HUM left the organization to join JEM. Even though the groups had similar ideologies, there were reportedly frequent clashes between them over matters such as financial allotments and other assets. Intelligence agencies and monitor groups claim that the HUM's operations were severely affected after most of its members joined the JEM, in 2000.

JEM members, since 2000, have organized a series of recruitment rallies all over Pakistan, allegedly motivating Islamic youths to wage jihad (a holy war against those who do not believe in Islamist fundamentalism). As thought by Indian intelligence, the outfit has grown significantly since its inception. According to published U.S. State Department reports, its cadre strength is estimated to be in the hundreds. The organization allegedly has members based in Pakistan, Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or PoK), and several Indian towns and villages in the Jammu and Kashmir (administered by India) region. According to analysts, most members of JEM are either Kashmiris or Pakistanis. However, a few Afghan war veterans, of Afghan and Arab descent, are also active members. The group is thought to recruit local people to act as guides or to partake in suicide bombing activities. The organization, allegedly, has centers in a few cities in Pakistan. Prior to the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in 2001, the outfit also reportedly maintained terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

The Indian Government claims that JEM has been involved in several terrorist operations against Indian civilians and armed forces in Kashmir, killing hundreds. The government also claims that the group is responsible for a few terrorist attacks in other parts of the country—the most prominent being the attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, in 2001. This, as alleged by the government, was a joint operation conducted by the JEM and another Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT), though both groups have denied responsibility for the operation. The Indian authorities, in the past, have also arrested or killed several terrorists who were allegedly working for the JEM in other states of India, apart from Jammu and Kashmir.

Because of pressure from India and other foreign countries after the Indian Parliament attack, Masood Azhar was arrested by Pakistani security forces on December 29, 2001. However, the Lahore High Court passed an order on December 14, 2002, to release Azhar, citing unlawful arrest.

There reportedly have been numerous other terrorist activities carried out by the JEM. In October 2001, four JEM terrorists attacked the J&K Legislative building in Srinagar, India, killing more than thirty people. Following the reports that the United States considered declaring JEM as a foreign terrorist organization, JEM reportedly renamed itself as Tehrik-al-Furqan. Experts claim that JEM also transferred money from bank accounts to the names of their low-profile supporters. Indian intelligence officials as well as monitor groups assert that most of the money was invested in commodity trading, real estate, and production of consumer goods—in a bid to legalize the funds.

In late 2001, the U.S. Department of State announced the addition of JEM to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) list. This list includes organizations that allegedly support terrorist groups and have assets in U.S. jurisdiction that can be frozen or controlled. Toward the end of 2001, the U.S. Department of State did place JEM on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Eventually, the Pakistan government banned a number of Islamic terrorist organizations, including JEM, and detained several of its members. Their assets were also reportedly frozen.

Another leading JEM member (also a close associate of Masood Azhar), Sheikh Omar Saeed, was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in 2002. Omar Saeed and his accomplices were later arrested by Pakistani police and found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Daniel Pearl. Around the same time, Pakistani authorities claimed that JEM terrorists were involved in fierce anti-Christian attacks in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Murree, and Taxila.

In 2003, reports indicated that the JEM was renamed as Khuddam-ul-Islam, and was divided after Azhar expelled the outfit's Karachi unit chief, Abdullah Shah Mazhar. Other members were also expelled. It is thought by many experts that the expelled members formed their own organizations.

The group, as thought by intelligence agencies and monitor groups, during this time, started claiming to propagate religion and undertake social welfare. In the same year, Jaish-e-Mohammed reportedly split into two factions; the splinter group was known as Jamaat ul-Furqaan.


Terrorism experts are of the opinion that Jaish-e-Mohammed is ideologically and organizationally an extension of the militant group Harakat ul-Mujahideen, also based in Pakistan. The primary goal of JEM is to establish the independent state of Kashmir by forcing a withdrawal of Indian military from the region. Analysts and intelligence officials state that, like other leading Islamic terrorist organizations, JEM has a goal of "freeing" Kashmir by using violence and spreading terror in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and other parts of India. It is allegedly politically associated with the radical political party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazlur Rehman faction.

JEM claims that each of its offices in Pakistan serves as training centers of jihad. During his period of detainment in the Indian jail (1994–1999), Masood Azhar allegedly wrote for a pro-Taliban journal commending the antiminorities acts committed by Islamic fundamentalists in J&K.

Jaish-e-Mohammed employs suicide bombing as its main technique of attack. Additionally published reports suggest that rocket grenades, kidnappings, bombings, and shoot outs are also extensively used for targeted acts of terrorism against the Indian security forces and civilians. As thought by Western intelligence and monitor groups, the JEM borrows much of its ideology from al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The exchange of knowledge as well as personnel among JEM and some of the other militant groups is common practice.

Intelligence analysts and terrorism experts have described most Jaish-e-Mohammed attacks as fidayeen (an Arabic word meaning "one who is ready to sacrifice his life for the cause"—more commonly known as suicide fighters) attacks. In simpler terms, fidayeen attacks refer to the strategy of the terrorists to storm a high-security target, including army bases, camps, and public places, and kill as many military personnel/civilians as possible before getting killed in the attack.

Analysts claim that one such major attack was carried out purportedly by JEM terrorists, in 2000, when a teenage operative of JEM drove a car laden with explosives into the gates of the Badamibagh Army headquarters in J&K. This was allegedly the first known suicide attack carried out by the JEM.



Maulana Masood Azhar was born in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, on July 10, 1968. He joined the Jamia Islamia madrassa (Islamic religious school) at the Binori Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, and learned about the jihadi movement. Leaders of several radical Islamic organizations, including Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA), had an influence over the operations of the madrassa and recruited several students to join the Afghan war. Azhar reportedly participated in the Afghan war and also developed close contacts with other prominent members of the Harakat, as well as the head of another militant group, Jamiat-e-Ulemai Islam organization, Maulana Fuzlur Rahman. Analysts state that he eventually rose to power in HUA, and was appointed the general secretary.

Azhar traveled extensively to propagate Islamism and to allegedly encourage Muslims to join the jihad movement. In 1994, while on a mission to meet top HUA commanders in Kashmir, he was arrested by the Indian authorities. HUA reportedly made numerous unsuccessful attempts to get Masood Azhar released from the Indian authorities. On December 24, 1999, an Indian Airlines aircraft flying from Kathmandu, Nepal, to New Delhi, India, was hijacked by five Pakistani nationals purportedly belonging to HUA and taken off to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The crisis ended after eight days when the Indian authorities agreed to meet with the hijackers' demand of releasing the hostages in exchange for the release of three top Pakistani militant leaders, including Maulana Masood Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar. Soon after his release from jail, Masood Azhar and his accomplices reportedly formed Jaish-e-Mohammed.

JEM is based in the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Muzaffarabad, and reportedly maintains terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Terrorism analysts generally agree that JEM, like other Islamic terrorist organizations operating in the Kashmir valley region, has received assistance from the madrassas in Pakistan. The Indian government has also repeatedly claimed that JEM and other terrorist outfits receive financial and operational help from Pakistan's ISI. The outfit reportedly has a close association with the Binoria Mosque in Karachi, Pakistan. According to analysts, it is through the mosque that the group is also closely associated with the Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

Indian and Pakistani authorities state that Masood Azhar has met with top al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden and Mullah Omar on several occasions. Most members of JEM are also thought to be deeply influenced by the ideology of Sipah-e-Sahaba organization founder Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, another prominent religious leader. In fact, Masood Azhar has reportedly declared in public that the Sipah-e-Sahaba and JEM have common goals of waging jihad in Kashmir. The JEM is also reported to have close ties with Sunni sectarian outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

The JEM is thought to receive funding from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban (in addition to the madrassas). News reports suggest that the outfit raises funds for its operations by using various other means. This includes donation from businessmen and others through newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets. The group, allegedly, also propagates their ideology and collects donation through the Internet.


According to a report published in The Guardian, after his release from an Indian jail in 1999, Maulana Masood Azhar addressed a rally of more than 10,000 followers and declared, "I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India." He went on to say that he will not rest until Kashmir is "liberated."

The government of India has often spoken about the terrorist activities conducted by Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the support it allegedly receives from the ISI of Pakistan. The Hindu, a national daily in India, in one of its reports stated that JEM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar (capital of J&K) on October 1, 2000, that killed at least thirty-one persons—a claim the group denied after a few days. Reacting to the incident, the then-Union Home Minister of India, L.K. Advani, while visiting Srinagar, said, "Pakistan cannot deny that Maulana Azhar is there (in Pakistan). If they (Pakistan) are honest about fighting terrorism, let them hand over the JEM leader to India so that he is brought to justice." Mr. Advani further stated, "We believe that international terrorism is a global menace … It needs a global response and we have endorsed the stand taken by the U.S. in this regard."


Maulana Masood Azhar and two other terrorists released by the Indian government in exchange for hostages aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft.
A JEM operative drives an explosive-laden car onto an army base in Kashmir, killing himself and several others.
Four terrorists attack the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar, India, killing more than 30 people. The JEM claims responsibility for the attack, but later denies the claim.
The Indian government publicly implicates the JEM and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba for the December 13, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament that kills nine and injures eighteen.
Top JEM operative, Omar Saeed Sheikh, claims to be involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Saeed and his accomplices are later charged and sentenced.

According to the Indian Ministry of External Affair, after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on December 13, 2001, L. K. Advani in a statement from the government of India said, "It is now evident that the terrorist assault on the Parliament House was executed jointly by Pakistan based and supported terrorist outfits, namely, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. These two organizations are known to derive their support and patronage from Pak ISI." He went on to say that during interrogation, one of the accomplices revealed that the attack was masterminded by Gazi Baba, a top leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed organization. He further said that "Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in particular have been in the forefront in organizing terrorist violence in our country."

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) a.k.a. Army of Mohammed Tehrik ul-Furqaan, Khuddam-ul-Islam


The Jaish-e-Mohammed is an Islamic extremist group based in Pakistan that was formed in early 2000 by Masood Azhar upon his release from prison in India. The group's aim is to unite Kashmir with Pakistan. It is politically aligned with the radical political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam's Fazlur Rehman faction (JUI-F). By 2003, JEM had splintered into Khuddam ul-Islam (KUI), headed by Azhar, and Jamaat ul-Furqan (JUF), led by Abdul Jabbar, who was released in August 2004 from Pakistani custody after being detained for suspected involvement in the December 2003 assassination attempts against President Musharraf. Pakistan banned KUI and JUF in November 2003. Elements of JEM and Lashkar e-Tayyiba combined with other groups to mount attacks as "The Save Kashmir Movement."


The JEM's leader, Masood Azhar, was released from Indian imprisonment in December 1999 in exchange for 155 hijacked Indian Airlines hostages. The Harakat-ul-Ansar (HUA) kidnappings in 1994 of US and British nationals by Omar Sheik in New Delhi and the HUA/al-Faran kidnappings in July 1995 of Westerners in Kashmir were two of several previous HUA efforts to free Azhar. On October 1, 2001, JEM claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building in Srinagar that killed at least thirty-one persons but later denied the claim. The Indian Government has publicly implicated JEM, along with Lashkar e-Tayyiba, for the December 13, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament that killed nine and injured eighteen. Pakistani authorities suspect that perpetrators of fatal anti-Christian attacks in Islamabad, Murree, and Taxila during 2002 were affiliated with JEM. The Pakistanis have implicated elements of JEM in the assassination attempts against President Musharraf in December 2003.


Has several hundred armed supporters located in Pakistan and in India's southern Kashmir and Doda regions and in the Kashmir valley, including a large cadre of former HUM members. Supporters are mostly Pakistanis and Kashmiris and also include Afghans and Arab veterans of the Afghan war.


Pakistan. JEM maintained training camps in Afghanistan until the fall of 2001.


Most of JEM's cadre and material resources have been drawn from the militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI) and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM). JEM had close ties to Afghan Arabs and the Taliban. Usama bin Ladin is suspected of giving funding to JEM. JEM also collects funds through donation requests in magazines and pamphlets. In anticipation of asset seizures by the Pakistani Government, JEM withdrew funds from bank accounts and invested in legal businesses, such as commodity trading, real estate, and production of consumer goods.

Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.

At the time, the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf reportedly denied the presence of JEM in Pakistan. However, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States, there was reportedly mounting pressure (from the United States and other countries) on his government to ban several militant outfits, including Jaish-e-Mohammed.

In a nation-wide televised speech, in 2002, President Musharraf asserted that his government intends to impart severe punishment to those responsible for extremism in Indianadministered region of Jammu and Kashmir or anyone who is involved in anti-minorities activities inside Pakistan. The President mentioned that the two militant groups Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that were implicated by the Indian government, to be involved in the attacks on the legislative building in Kashmir, and on the Indian Parliament were banned. According to a report published by the Center for Contemporary Conflict, this move of President Musharraf was commended by world leaders.


The Indian government, until the early 2000s, had a long-standing ban on militant outfits operating in the Jammu & Kashmir region. These militant outfits have been accused (by the government) of performing targeted acts of terror against innocent civilians in J&K and other places in the country. Jaish-e-Mohammed is one of the more prominent militant outfits held responsible by the government for numerous acts of terror.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed, since 2001, has been recognized as a terrorist organization by most governments worldwide. Following the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government froze the assets of several militant organizations, including JEM, allegedly for their links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Soon after the terror strikes on the Kashmir Legislative Assembly building in Srinagar, India, and the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, the U.S. Department of State formally designated Jaish as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Subsequently, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan banned JEM, and reportedly launched an operation against the organization by arresting members and conducting interrogations. It has been alleged that JEM has stated publicly that they will not succumb to the pressure of the ban imposed on them and will continue with their jihad in Kashmir.

Most analysts argue that the lack of comprehensive ceasefire (in the Kashmir region) implies that neither the JEM militants nor the government authorities would lower their guard. As of 2005, the JEM allegedly continues to carry out terrorist operations in J&K.


Web sites

GlobalSecurity.org. "Jaish-e-Mohammed." 〈http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/jem.htm〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

Kashmir Herald. "Jaish-e-Mohammed." 〈http://www.kashmirherald.com/profiles/jaisheMohammed.html〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

Ministry of External Affairs, India. "L.K. Advani's Speech after Terrorist Attack on Indian Parliament." 〈http://meaindia.nic.in/speech/2001/12/18spc01.htm〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

South Asia Terrorism Portal. "Jaish-e-Mohammed Mujahideen e Tanzim." 〈http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/jaish_e_Mohammed_mujahideen_e_tanzeem.htm〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).

South Asia Analysis Group. "Paper No. 376 Jaish-e-Mohammed." 〈http://saag.org/papers4/papers376.html〉 (accessed October 20, 2005).


Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)