Masood Azhar, the key conspirator behind the 14 February Pulwama terrorist attack, if not “tackled” soon, will carry out more such “spectacular” attacks targeting not just security personnel but also civilians, say top intelligence officials.

They say that Azhar and his henchmen have been emboldened by the “success” of the Pulwama attack, which killed over 40 paramilitary personnel from the CRPF, and going by his past record and his extreme hatred for India, it is only a matter of time before his terror organization, Jaish e Mohammed carries out more such attacks in the near future.

“Within days of being released during the IC-814 hostage swap, Masood had established himself as a revered leader in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur. We had interrogated terrorists who were caught during the time. They had told us that most of the new recruits were joining Jaish due to Masood and also because of the money that they were getting to join his group was more than what they were getting to join other groups,” said an official working with an intelligence agency.

Sources said that unlike the other groups, Azhar and Jaish take time and give a lot of thought before attempting an attack as they believe in carrying out “spectacular” operations. “Look at the Parliament attack, Pathankot and now Pulwama. They were all ‘high-decibel, high-impact’ attacks that jolted us,” he explained.

“The Pulwama attack is a huge wake-up call for us as it has opened up so many disturbing possibilities. This recent attack will encourage him to attempt more such ‘spectacular’ attacks and hence, not just India, the entire world needs to come together to stop Masood and take him out,” the official added.

According to him, it is also a foregone conclusion that sooner than later, Pakistan too will have to face the damaging consequences of harbouring someone like Azhar.

“He is extremely radicalised and does not care about any rule of law. One has to remember that he had even tried to assassinate then Pakistan Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf in 2003. It is not long before he strikes at the Pakistan’s civil government if tried to be controlled,” said the official, who has expertise on Pakistan.

The “success” of the Pulwama attack and the “reactions” that it has generated, coupled with the withdrawal of American troops from neighbouring Afghanistan, has made more and more indoctrinated youths in Pakistan to gravitate towards Azhar, who in his fiery speeches calls for establishing Islamic rule in India, starting with Kashmir.

“His outfit is getting a lot of recruits nowadays and they are being more selective with whom to recruit. If he is not eliminated, the repercussions will be very deadly,” the official said.

 

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