Jaish suffers setback as last of its major commander in Kashmir is killed

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Police on Saturday dealt a major blow against Jaish-e-Mohammad when it killed a near seven-feet tall Mohammad Ismail Alvi, the last of the major commanders of the outfit who had guided its resurgence in recent years.

Alvi, believed to be a relative of Jaish-e-Mohammad’s founder Masood Azhar, operated under aliases Adnan and Lamboo; the latter a reference to his extraordinary height. 

In one of the pictures that was shared on social media, Alvi stood next to Umar Farooq, the nephew of Azhar who had prepared the massive bomb used in February 2019 Pulwama attack who was then killed in a gunfight month later, and another unidentified militant. 

The picture gives out Alvi’s height as Farooq and another unidentified militant appeared diminutive before him and were more than a foot short of him.

Alvi was killed on Saturday morning in Dachigam forest belt at a remote place called Hangalpora, a spot near Namibian and the mountainous Marsar lake.

The killing of Alvi, who was armed with an M4 assault rifle – a signature of his status within the Jaish-e-Mohammad, is a major setback to the militant group that has lost a crop of all its major commanders who had led its resurgence during the last decade.

Jaish-e-Mohammad was founded by Azhar immediately after his release – in exchange for release of passengers aboard the hijacked IC814 Indian Airlines plane – in 2000. The group then mounted a series of attacks in Kashmir and also introduced the first suicide bombers to the region’s conflict.

The group, however, degraded in its capacity as Pakistan cracked down on it in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks on United States and as its members were found involved in suicide attacks against Pervez Musharaf. Jaish-e-Mohammad then made a comeback into Kashmir valley in December 2014 when its militants attacked an army camp at Mohra in north Kashmir. Several major attacks followed and were claimed by Afzal Guru Squad.

Most of the Jaish commanders who had masterminded the attacks in the last decade have now been killed including Mufti Waqas, Qari Yasir, Kamran and Abdullah Hanan alias Fauji, who was killed last year.

Alvi, according to police sources, had infiltrated into Kashmir in 2017 or 2018 and was operating in parts of southern Kashmir including in Tral area. The police had previously described Alvi as an expert in manufacturing Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The police said that Alvi was also involved in the preparation of the IED for the February 2019 suicide attack in Lethpora Pulwama in which at least 40 paramilitary personnel were killed.

The attack became a watershed moment for relations between India and Pakistan as the two neighbours engaged in a rare military confrontation not seen since the 1999 Kargil war.

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