New Delhi: The deadly Pathankot air base attack early this year by Jaish-e-Mohammad has boosted the Pakistan-based terror outfit's profile, evident from the growing number of recruits in the organisation since the assault.
The JeM's popularity has soared in areas like Bahawalpur in the Pakistani province of Punjab, and with continuing state support, it has registered a substantial increase in its rank and file, a Brussels-based NGO has said.
According to TOI, the International Crisis Group (ICG) in its report titled “Pakistan's Jihadist Heartland: Southern Punjab”, claimed that the “protective custody” of Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar was an “eyewash.
The Pathankot strike was seen as attention grabbing and helped Jaish gain "stature", somewhat like in the case of Lashkar-e-Taiba after the 26/11 attacks, TOI said citing the report.
The report claimed that jihadi groups, which target India, are still very active in the border areas, and have been churning out fresh recruits with vigour.
Quoting security and counter-terrorism officials in Lahore, Bahawalpur and Islamabad,
The ICG said that Jaish members, including Azhar's brother Abdul Rauf, still remain in the military's "good books".
Jaish's financial arm, Al-Rehmat Trust, which reportedly funded the January 2 Pathankot attack, also figures in the ICG report.
“Jaish's expansion has been "enabled by social grids and charities, such as the Al-Rehmat Trust and Al-Rashid Trust that conduct major fundraising," the report said.