Maulana Masood Azhar came on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies for the first time in 1993, when his name cropped up along with the Al-Itihaad Al-Islmiya, an al-Qaeda aligned Somali terror group that was seeking money and recruits from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). Azhar had at the time visited Somalia and facilitated recruitment of Yemeni mercenaries.
In 2000, he floated the Jaish-e-Mohammad with help from the al-Qaeda and Taliban, according to the United Nations sanctions committee on al-Qaeda.
In 2001, Pakistan placed Azhar under arrest for his role in the attack on Indian Parliament, but he was released a year later due to insufficient evidence.
In 2002, the Jaish was declared an unlawful organisation, following which the group made two bids to assassinate then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.
In July 2004, a red corner notice was issued by Interpol against Azhar based on an arrest warrant by a court for his involvement in the Parliament attack.
After the 2016 Pathankot attack, the NIA named him for his alleged role and Azhar was again placed under protective custody in Pakistan. Since then he has refrained from making public speeches.
India’s dossier to the UN seeking a ban on Azhar, accessed by The Sunday Express, describes him as “a Pakistan-based international terrorist and a leader of JeM, its chief financier, recruiter and motivator”. The description further says Azhar has been associated “with ISIL and al-Qaida for… financing, planning and perpetrating” terrorist attacks.
New Delhi has also been mounting pressure on Islamabad to dismantle the Jaish infrastructure and curb its finances. As per Indian agencies, the Jaish has upgraded its headquarters in Azhar’s hometown Bahawalpur and, with funds pouring in, revived its al-Rahmat trust to collect donations.