Santiago: In what might come as major setback to India, reports on Friday claimed that Abdul Rauf - the man who was arrested by the Chilean authorities and lodged in a Santiago jail – may not be the real mastermind of the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane IC-814.
According to reports, a team of investigators from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are in Chile capital Santiago and have quizzed Rauf for his suspected role in the plane hijacking.
Rauf was quizzed by the investigators for about two hours, but no official word in this regard has come as yet.
The Chilean authorities had informed the CBI through Interpol on April 11 that they had arrested a Pakistani national, Abdul Rauf, who matched the description of the person charge-sheeted by the CBI in the hijacking of flight IC-814.
During investigation Chile police found an Interpol notice against him for the hijacking.
After getting information from the Chilean authorities, a team of CBI investigators was then dispatched to the country for Rauf’s questioning.
Rauf is the brother of Mualana Masood Azhar, who is amongst India’s most wanted terrorists. Azhar was among the three terrorists exchanged for 154 passengers after eight-days of negotiations carried out at Kandahar, a city in Southern Afghanistan.
Azhar is the founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and is said to be operating from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Rauf is said to have taken command of Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2007 after Maulana Masood Azhar went underground.
Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice for JeM leader Mufti Abdul Rauf in 2000 and a cash award of Rs 1 million was announced for information leading to his arrest.
According to the Interpol notice, Rauf allegedly sent Rs 78,000 twice to the hijackers of flight IC-814.
He rented a flat in Sabzi Mandi area of Dhaka for the hijackers to stay and attended a few meetings to fine-tune the operation.
During the hijacking, Rauf was constantly getting updates from co-accused Abdul Latif, an Indian national who has been arrested by the CBI.
Three other accomplices of Rauf who have been arrested are Pakistani nationals Mohammad Rehan and Mohammed Iqbal and Yusuf Nepali, a Nepalese national, and they are being tried in India.
According to the Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol, Rauf is a resident of 6-B-1260/l08, Kauser Colony, Model Town in Bahawalpur district. Rauf has two other addresses in Karachi.
First Published: Friday, April 15, 2011, 12:05