‘Banned’ JeM holding sermons in Karachi mosque

The JeM was banned by Pakistan in 2002 following the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

Updated: May 10, 2010, 13:24 PM IST

Los Angeles: Despite being banned, the Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM), the terror group with which Faisal Shahzad - the confessed Times Square bomber - is said to have close links, is operating freely in Pakistan with its leaders holding rallies and delivering inciting lectures and sermons without any check.

The JeM, which was banned by Pakistan in 2002 under an intense international pressure following the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, has made Karachi’s Batha mosque its coordination centre from where it carries on its covert activities.

Several leaders of this hardcore Islamic terrorist group often visit the mosque to deliver sermons, a Los Angeles Times report said.

According to the report, recently hundreds of ‘worshipers’ had gathered to hear the JeM’s ‘jihad’ leader Maulana Masood Azhar in the mosque, where the theme of speeches and sermons often covers the same topic- “holy war against the West”.

Amazingly, police officers were seen providing security during Azhar’s rally, which clearly summons up the Pakistan government’s efforts against these terror organisations.

Though security officials had put up metal detectors for people entering the mosque for the rally, there were hardly any restrictions on the speech made by the terror commanders.

“They had metal detectors checking people going in. The people in this mosque, their main focus is jihad,” the newspaper quoted Ali Khan, who runs a barber shop just 50 yards away from the Batha mosque, as saying.

Observers and analysts noted that Karachi was fast becoming a terror coordination centre, where banned militant groups routinely dispatch their cadets.

Raza Hasan, a Karachi-based crime reporter of a leading English newspaper, said terror groups often send their recruits to city-based mosques to pass out jihad pamphlets and compact discs among masses to attract young people towards ‘jihad’

“Authorities have not come down hard on Jaish-e-Muhammad or any of these banned outfits. They seem to lack a policy,” Hasan said.

Yusuf Khan, a Karachi-based analyst, described the modus operandi of these jihad groups.

“Usually when the government bans these militant groups, they suddenly start welfare work. During the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005, Jaish-e-Muhammad began helping people and rebuilding. That`s their technique: to become philanthropic and get sympathy,” Khan said.

While the US is piling up pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the JeM and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), another banned terror group which mainly focussed on India in the past, experts are sceptical over any action on these ‘jihadi’ organisations, as they still enjoy support and sympathy of many in the country.

“I`m afraid it will be life as normal. There is a lot of sympathy among many in law enforcement for these people. You cannot wipe this out,” Khan said.