December 2001 News

Ghazi Baba, the brain behind Jaish

19 December 2001
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Ghazi Baba stands next to Maulana Masood Azhar in the Jaish hierarchy. He is in Kashmir at the behest of Maulana and his Pakistani mentors to pursue the aim of dismembering India. Speaking chaste Urdu, thirty-nine plus Ghazi Baba was the mastermind behind the attack on Parliament. Known as ''brain'' among the organisational cadres of Jaish-e-Mohammed, he is not only well conversant with mountain guerrilla warfare tactics but also an expert in taking hostages. His real name is Shah Nawaz Khan and he hails from Bhawalpur in Pakistan. Operating from his hideouts in Kashmir, he is regarded as the best strategist in the outfit, intelligence sources told the Hindustan Times. Earlier, he used to operate from Bandipore and then shifted to Ganderbal. Repo-rts suggest he is now either in Tral or Pahalgam. Shah Nawaz received his schooling in Bhawalpur. In the 80s he went to Afghan-istan where he fought along with the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. After the Russians withdrew and the Najibullah regime collapsed, Khan came back to Pakistan. There, he was impressed by Maulana Masood Azhar, the then general secretary of Harkat-ul-Ansar, which was preparing an offensive against India. After Maulana Azhar was arrested near Anantnag in February 1994, Shah Nawaz Khan was entrusted the task of getting him released at any cost. Khan travelled from Pak-occupied Kashmir to the Valley and started organising his group. Sources said he organised the abduction of two Britishers in 1994, but they had to be freed due to international pressure. Khan then gave a front name of Al-Faran to the Harkat in July 1995 and took six foreigners hostage in Pahalgam. One escaped while another was murdered. He was the brain behind the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu in 1999 following which Maulana Azhar was released, the sources said. Ghazi was then asked to stay on and work on future strategies to strike at spectacular targets across India— one of them being the attack on Parliament.


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