#IndiaStrikesBack: IAF airstrikes' target involved in 1999 IC-814 Kandahar Hijack
India on Tuesday carried out air strikes to destroy Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror modules in Pakistan's Balakot along the Line of Control (LoC) avenging the deadly Pulwama terror attack. However, the key target of India's aerial strikes was Azhar Yusuf, brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar, who was also involved in the 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814. Here's all you need to know.
Balakot terror camp was headed by Azhar Yusuf
The Balakot terror camp, headed by Azhar Yusuf alias Ustad Gauri, was targeted and destroyed by India today. Yusuf was involved in the hijacking of IC-814 in December 1999 from Nepal to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Masood Azhar, along with two other terrorists, was released by India upon hijackers' demands. He later floated JeM that carried out many attacks in India, including the 2001 Parliament attack.
Interpol lookout notice issued against Azhar Yusuf
Azhar Yusuf also had an Interpol lookout notice issued against him since 2000. The Interpol notice says that he was a Pakistani national who hailed from Karachi and could speak Urdu and Hindi.
Here's the Interpol lookout notice against Yusuf
12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets used to carry out strikes
As many as twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force had successfully carried out the airstrikes before dawn on Tuesday to destroy Jaish's camp in Balakot, Pakistan. The operation lasted for 19 minutes, and the jets dropped 1,000 kg of explosives with precision. All the jets returned unscratched, and the IAF managed to break the backbone of the terrorist organization.
It was a non-military, pre-emptive strike: Foreign Secretary
Following the IAF air strike, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told media, "There was very credible intelligence info that JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) was planning to carry out terror strikes across India, thereby making this strike absolutely necessary." He added, "It was a non-military, pre-emptive strike. India has decided to take action against any terror threat to it."
Large number of Jaish terrorists eliminated
Foreign Secretary Gokhale also said "a large number of Jaish terrorists", including the outfit's top commanders, trainers, and terrorists who were reportedly fidayeen (suicide attackers) have been eliminated by IAF. Today's casualties are estimated to be somewhere around 200-300.
Impossible to believe outfit's training facilities exist without Pakistan's knowledge
Gokhale pointed out that while Jaish-e-Mohammed has been active for over 20 years in Pakistan, the country's government instead of taking action has always denied the outfit's existence as well. He said "it was impossible to believe" that such facilities, where hundreds of terrorists are trained, could operate without Pakistani authorities' knowledge. He also pointed out that the United Nations has already proscribed JeM.
A little about the Pulwama terror attack
A convoy of CRPF, which had 70 buses, was attacked on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on 14 February. Terrorist Adil Ahmad Dar rammed a car laced with nearly 350kg of explosives into a bus, triggering a blast. In the dastardly attack, 40 jawans were killed and nearly 50 were seriously injured. Terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for worst terror attack since the 2016 Uri attack.