Pakistan Arrest Head of Muslim Militant Group

Agence France Presse
December 25, 2001


Pakistani police have arrested Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Muslim militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, a senior government official said Tuesday.

"He has been arrested for violating a ban on making provocative speeches and inciting people to create law and order," said the official who did not want to be identified. The official said Azhar, who was detained over the weekend, had not been formally charged.

"There are certain rules and Azhar has violated them."

Jaish-e-Mohammad is one of two militant organizations accused by India of carrying out the December 13 attack on the parliament building in New Delhi in which 14 people, including the five gunmen, were killed.

Official sources however stressed that his arrest was linked to speeches he had made against Pakistan's support of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan and not as a result of Indian pressure.

Jaish-e-Mohammad, which means Army of Mohammad, is a hardline militant outfit fighting to drive Indian forces from the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The organization was formed last year by Azhar, a leading Pakistani Islamist who was released from jail in India as part of a deal to end an Indian airlines hijacking in December 1999.

It was named on a US terrorist watchlist in October. The group though has repeatedly denied any involvement in terrorism.


Copyright 2001 Agence France Presse

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