Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar was born in 1967 and grew up in the Jama Masjid area of Srinagar in Kashmir Valley. His father was a postman. Zargar was motivated to militancy at the age of 17 in 1984 and became a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) when he was arrested for the first time.
Zargar was arrested on May 15, 1992. He was released from jail on December 31, 1999 as part of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hostage deal and provided safe passage to Pakistan. Immediately after his release, Zargar renewed the activity of Al-Umar Mujahideen in Muzaffarabad, close to the LOC , in recruiting and training of young Muslims in Indian part of Kashmir.