Jaish-e-Mohammed Building Giant New Terrorist Training Academy in Imran Khan's Pakistan
The expansion plans coincide with the rise in prospects of cricketer-turned-politician and now Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan, who emerged victorious in Wednesday’s general election.
File image of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. (Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed has been secretly building a 15-acre complex on the outskirts of the city of Bahawalpur in Punjab province to train thousands of young children to sacrifice them to the cause of Jihad, Firstpost reported.
Photographs of the complex show that it will be five times the size of the banned group’s existing headquarters in the city. Work at the site has been going on for the last three months.
It is no coincidence that the expansion plans coincide with the rise in prospects of cricketer-turned-politician and now Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan, who emerged victorious in Wednesday’s general election, with the aide of the JeM, whose primary aim is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan.
Now, it’s going to ask for the debt to be repaid.
The group had thrown its weight behind Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and campaigned extensively against his main rival, Nawaz Sharif, who it described as a traitor to Pakistan and Islam.
Although Pakistan is facing international sanctions for failing to act against terror groups on its soil, little action has been taken so far. The country has committed to a 26-point action plan to check financing of groups like the JeM. The sanctions could come into effect from September next year.
But the ground reality is that the banned outfit is operating freely. According to local government records, land for the new Bahwalpur complex was purchased directly by Masood Azhar, the group’s commander, who India holds responsible for many terrorist acts in India, including the December 2001 attack on Parliament as well the January 2016 attack on the Pathankot airbase.
Work underway at new Jaish-e-Mohammed seminary in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. (Image courtesy: Firstpost)
The Indian government has been trying to get him declared as a United Nations-designated terrorist, but the move has been blocked numerous times by China.
Market rates in the area where the complex is being built range around Pakistani rupees 80 to 90 lakh per acre. Sources who have visited the place say that the seminary already includes kitchens, medical facilities and classrooms and a large underground facility, possibly for use as secure housing or indoor firing range.
There are also plans for a swimming pool, archery range and sports fields, Firstpost reported. The JeM hopes that in time this complex would emerge as the centre of all its Jihadi operations.
Fundraising for this quest is being done in the form of cash donations from pilgrims who are heading to Haj. In 2017, landowners were also called upon to gift their ushr, a religious tithe levied on the harvest, to help “martyrs, prisoners detained for Islam, the families of religious warriors, seminaries, offices and needy individuals”.
The call was issued in the name of the Al-Rehmat Trust—an internationally-proscribed organisation which the United States Treasury says raises funds for jihadist operations.
Former PM Nawaz Sharif had tied to stop the JeM and ordered the arrest of Azhar, but now that he is sidelined and Khan is in the hot seat, the operations are expected to go in overdrive, sources said.
Local leaders of the Jaish have fanned out across rural Punjab, addressing mosque congregations to raise funds, Firstpost reported. In a sermon delivered at the Farooq-e-Azam mosque in Pattoki, not far from Nawaz Sharif’s home town of Raiwind, a Jaish leader, identified by the name “Maulana Ammar,” urged an audience of hundreds to make cash donations, asserting that “jihad was a mandate of the Shari’a”.
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