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Kandahar ‘chief’ hijacker behind plot to abduct Rahul Gandhi
The Indian Express ^ | 11/19/2007 | Pranab Dhal Samanta

Posted on 11/19/2007 4:51:26 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki

Kandahar ‘chief’ hijacker behind plot to abduct Rahul Gandhi

Pranab Dhal Samanta

Terror: Three held in UP say they got ‘personal guidance’ in Pak from Ibrahim Athar, Jaish boss Masood Azhar’s brother

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 18: Eight years after he had India on tenterhooks for a week, IC-814 principal hijacker Ibrahim Athar, referred to as “chief” during the hijack, has reappeared on the Indian terror scene as the mastermind, facilitator and trainer of the foiled Jaish-e-Mohammed operation to abduct Rahul Gandhi.

Younger brother of Jaish head Maulana Masood Azhar, the dangerous Athar is learnt to have imparted training to the three militants — Mohammed Abid, Yusuf and Mirza Rashid — nabbed by UP police. While Rahul Gandhi was the main target, the other two high profile politicians on the list were former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Leader of Opposition L K Advani.

It’s learnt that the three operatives have revealed that they were imparted training for close to three months under personal guidance of Athar at a camp near Sialkot in Pakistan. They were shown videos of these leaders and some other lower profile politicians as part of their training programme.

Security agencies have been receiving inputs on groups like Jaish working on such a plot since last year. As reported in The Sunday Express on October 8 last year, the Centre had ordered a complete security review of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul after such inputs. This was around the time when the UP poll campaign was set to pick up pace and the two had hectic travel schedules planned for them.

While the UP campaign went off incident-free with the Special Protection Group stepping up security to unprecedented levels, alarm bells rang again when reliable information came early this year that a secret meeting had happened in Berlin between Sikh militant groups and the Lashkar-e-Toiba at the behest of Pakistan-based handlers.

That meeting, sources said, is said to have again focused on abduction as a strategy to obtain release of key militants, including Parliament attack accused Mohammed Afzal. This was also the first time that Robert Vadra’s name appeared on the list.

However, sources indicate that Jaish plans were separate from these efforts and, perhaps, more concrete. As it now emerges, sufficient groundwork was done in India like preparing videos and doing surveys, all of which could then be used for training purposes.

As for Athar, he is now in his early 40s and has largely been involved in behind-the-scenes preparations, carrying forward Jaish’s terror operations. He led the IC-814 hijack, then affiliated to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and was referred to as “chief” during the hijack, and along with four other accomplices hijacked this Indian Airlines plane mid-air from Kathmandu to Kandahar with stops at Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai.

In a week long drama, he was successful in obtaining the release of three dreaded terrorists — brother Masood Azhar, Syed Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar. He was responsible for the killing of Rippan Katyal, one of the IC-814 passengers.

His identity as a Pakistan national was verified on the basis of an application form for a Nepalese visa in Karachi in November 1999, a month before the hijack, where he applied under the name of Farooq Siddiqi and showed a Sindh address. The photographs matched that of Athar.

Athar was also on the list of 20 most wanted terrorists based in Pakistan that New Delhi handed over to Islamabad five years back. An Interpol notice exists against him and he remains on every terror list India has made after that to make its case against Pakistan.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 19991224; abduction; flight814; flt814; gandhi; harkatulmujahideen; hijack; hum; ic814; india; indianairlines; kidnapping; lashkaretoiba; let; pakistan; rahulgandhi

1 posted on 11/19/2007 4:51:27 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki,curpg-2.cms

IC-814 hijackers free birds in Pak

19 Apr 2005, 2325 hrs IST,Amit Mukherjee,TNN

NEW DELHI: Even as President Pervez Musharraf made tall claims about curbing terrorism as part of confidence-building measures, some serious irritants persist. Trial of the IC-814 hijacking case is drawing to a close, but the seven key accused, including the five hijackers - all Pak nationals - are still moving around scot-free in Pakistan.

“The prosecution’s evidence was completed this week and the verdict will be out in a couple of months time. But despite red-corner notices issued by Interpol to the authorities in Islamabad way back in December 2000, Pakistan has not deported or arrested or even provided any information on any of the accused,” said senior officials here.

After a thorough investigation, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in June 2000 naming 10 accused. Only three of these could be arrested. The court took cognizance and trial was initiated in May 2001, with the other seven absconding.

The five hijackers, all Pakistan nationals - Ibrahim Athar alias Chief, Sunny Ahmed Qazi alias Burger, Shahid Sayeed Akhtar alias Doctor, Zahoor Ibrahim Mistry alias Bhola and Shakir alias Shankar - boarded IC-814 at Tribhuvan international airport in Kathmandu on December 24, 1999.

On its way to Delhi, the flight carrying 174 passengers was hijacked and taken to Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai, before it landed at Kandahar, in Afghanistan. The passengers were released after...

...six days on the aircraft, only after the Indian government struck a deal and released Maulana Masood Azhar, a terrorist involved in several terror strikes in India.

The bulk of the trial proceedings - conducted at the high security special court in Patiala Central prison - are now over. Almost all witnessess out of a list of 323, which included foreign nationals as well, have deposed, the evidence and documents have been placed before the judge and the witnesses have been examined. The investigating officer, DIG M Narayanan has also made his submissions over the last one year.

The investigation revealed that the conspiracy to hijack the airliner was hatched in the beginning of 1999, after meetings among the 10 accused in Mumbai, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Karachi, Dhaka and Kathmandu. The CBI managed to arrest Dilip Kumar Bhujail of Kalimpong, Abdul Latif a native of Gujarat and Bhupalman Damai alias Yusuf Nepali from Mumbai. Abdul Rauf and Yusuf Azhar, also Pak nationals are absconding.

Meanwhile, the US had also launched a parallel investigation since its own nationals were among the hostages. Federal agents had come to Mumbai in quest for evidence around February this year. But nothing much has come up so far.

2 posted on 11/19/2007 4:53:20 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: RedStateRocker; gonzo; DeaconBenjamin; indcons; sukhoi-30mki; Eyes Unclouded; ECM; SE Mom; ...
Pakistan ۋﮧ۱م

FReepmail if you want on or off
3 posted on 11/19/2007 6:37:37 AM PST by G8 Diplomat (Creatures are divided into 6 kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Monera, Protista, & Saudi Arabia)
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To: sukhoi-30mki
India must have seriously tightened up its intelligence network ever since Kargill war.
4 posted on 11/19/2007 4:36:26 PM PST by Gengis Khan
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To: Gengis Khan

India has always had a good “passive” intelligence capability in Pakiland since Mrs.G’s time.The IK Gujral govt supposedly stopped all covert operations to hit Pakistan’s back in the same coin as per his stupid Gujral doctrine.I’m sure the ABV government must has restarted it,though such things take lots of time & effort.Since the precious baby of the Congress was a target rather than some ordinary Indian citizens,the Intell agencies must be working in overdrive mode.

5 posted on 11/20/2007 7:15:38 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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