Key conspirator in IC-814 hijacking nabbed?

Key conspirator in IC-814 hijacking nabbed? New Delhi: A person suspected to be a key conspirator in the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane (IC-814) has been detained in Chile and the CBI will be dispatching a team to the South American nation soon to verify whether he is the same person wanted in this country.

Highly-placed sources in the Government and the probe agency said on Monday that the Chilean police informed the CBI that they had detained a person identified as Abdul Rauf and that there was also an Interpol Red Corner notice pending against him.

The sources said that the Chilean police had also sent his finger prints for verification but the CBI expressed its inability as neither Rauf's picture nor his finger prints was available with the investigation agency.

A team would be soon going to Chile to ascertain his identity as well as question him, the sources said, adding some help from western friendly intelligence agencies was likely to be taken in this connection.

Abdul Rauf wanted by the CBI is the brother-in-law of Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Maulana Masood Azhar and was among the main conspirators in the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu on December 24, 1999.

The Jaish chief was among the three terrorists exchanged for the plane and over 160 passenger after eight-days of negotiations carried out at Kandhahar, a city in Southern Afghanistan.

According to the confessional statement of Abdul Latif, one of the conspirators who is in jail at present, Abdul Rauf and Yusuf Azhar, brother of Azhar, criss-crossed India and Nepal several times.

It was is July 1999 that the hijack plot took concrete shape and the conspirators held several secret meetings in Dhaka and Mumbai.

In August, Ibrahim Attar (or Chief), the second brother of Maulana Masood Azhar, informed Abdul Latif about the plan and the forged passports and travel documents for the five hijackers were arranged.

Dilip Bhujel had already delivered the guns and grenades via the Kalingpong route. A crucial meeting between the gang took place in the Kathmandu Zoo on December 13, where Latif was told he would not be on the hijacked plane but should remain as the gang's point-man in Mumbai.

Thereafter, the hijackers moved to their base in Kathmandu but kept in touch with Abdul Latif, who, in turn, relayed the messages to Abdul Rauf in Karachi. On the fateful day too, the hijackers kept informing him when they cleared security for boarding IC-814 or when they were in the waiting lounge.

It was the telephone call made by Abdul Rauf to Abdul Latif, asking him to call up the BBC offices in London and give details of the hijacking, which were intercepted and the arrests were made.