NEW DELHI: The Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training complex in Balakot, which was struck by the Air Force on Tuesday, is where the February 14 Pulwama terror attack was planned.
According to intelligence sources, JeM recruits were planning more suicide attacks from this facility. The terror complex, home to 200-300 terror recruits at any given time and said to be the biggest training camp of JeM, had six barracks with further construction underway to strengthen it.
Rasheed Ghazi, the mastermind behind the Pulwama attack, who was killed in an encounter four days after the attack, was also trained at this complex, sources said.
Suicide bomber Adil Dar, who rammed his explosive laden vehicle into the CRPF convoy in the Pulwama attack, was trained by Ghazi.
Located about 20 km from the Balakot town, the terror complex has existed for more than three decades and has been a training ground for not just JeM terrorists but also operatives belonging to other terror outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen. The complex had several structures to accommodate terrorist trainees and facilities to train them, sources said.
They added that the complex had even more than the usual number of operatives on Tuesday as many terrorists from camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) were shifted to Balakot, fearing retaliation from India in PoK areas.
Beginning November 17, last year, 60 JeM recruits underwent three-month advance training, including training for suicide attacks.
The terror complex was being run by fugitive Yusuf Azhar, who is one of the terrorists involved in the hijack of Indian Airline flight IC 814 in 1999, and also happens to be the brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar.
In December 2017, Abdullah, the son of JeM founder, underwent advanced training here. Later, he did a 10-day refresher training at the camp, sources said. Sources in government said that the terror complex was used for “battle inoculation” and its trainers were retired officers of the Pakistan Army.
The Balakot complex is one of the camps where Border Action Teams (BAT) conducts cross-border operations and raids across the LoC.
The BATs include commandos from the Pakistan Army and terrorists. It’s these teams that have carried out the beheading of Indian soldiers along the Line of Control in the past.