Who is Abdul Rasheed Ghazi? Masood Azhar's trusted IED specialist who may have masterminded Pulwama attack?

In picture: Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar.
Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar. Reuters

A month before the Pulwama attack that led to the killing of 45 Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) personnel,there were credible intelligence inputs regarding the infiltration of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi into the Kashmir valley.

Ghazi, a war veteran and IED specialist is the commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and a trusted lieutenant of Masood Azhar. He is reportedly believed to be the mastermind behind the terror attack and also for training the suicide bomber, Adil Dar for the devastating attack. It is believed that a massive manhunt has begun for Gazi in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir.

According to sources, Ghazi's entry into the Kashmir valley has changed the style of militant operations from routine encounters to Taliban-style car bombings and this poses a great threat to the security forces. He was sent by the Jaish to the valley during mid-December to avenge the execution of Masood Azhar's nephews, Usman and Talha Rasheed, as well as to train the local youth in bomb-making and suicide attacks.

There are reports of Ghazi having infiltrated into Kashmir with a huge amount of explosives, a part of which was used in the Pulwama car bomb attack. The suicide attacker, Adil Dar used 350 kilograms of explosives to attack the CRPF convoy, leading to a lot of casualties.

Jaish planned a big strike after the group lost its top commanders in 2018?

Some of the top Jaish commanders were among the 230 militants killed by the security forces in 2018 -- the highest number of such casualties in a decade in Kashmir.

Majority of the executed commanders of the terror outfit were of Pakistani origin including Masood Azhar's nephew Usman, who also carried out sniper attacks on the security forces. He was killed in an encounter in Tral, South Kashmir in October, 2018. A United States manufactured gun was also recovered from Usman's posession which was not used by the militants till date in the valley.

Umer Khalid, another top JeM militant, who had helped set up the group's base in the region was also killed in North Kashmir last year. He was one among those in the top-most wanted list of J&K police.

In 2017, JeM chief Masood Azhar's other nephew, Talha Rasheed, was killed by the security forces. These killings were described as major achievements by the J&K Police and security forces. This reportedly prompted the Jaish top command to send Ghazi to the valley to train Adil Dar, who is believed to have infiltrated into Kashmir by foot and on public transport.