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Conspirator of Kandahar hijacking may have been arrested

New Delhi(IANS):Chilean authorities have arrested a Pakistani man suspected to be one of the masterminds of the Indian Airlines IC-814 hijacking in 1999 and a team of Indian investigators is travelling to the South American country to verify his identity.

Informed sources told IANS that police in Chile have informed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about the arrest of Abdul Rauf, against whom there is a pending Interpol Red Corner notice.

“The Chile police have detained a man — Abdul Rauf — and alerted the Interpol. We came to know through the Interpol about the arrest,” a CBI source said.

Chilean police have sent finger prints of the arrested person for verification, but the CBI neither has any picture nor finger print samples of the terrorist who conspired to hijack the Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu Dec 24, 1999.

The sources said the CBI team would be going to Chile to question the arrested person and ascertain his identity.

The CBI has been looking for Abdul Rauf, who is brother-in-law of Jaish-e-Mohammed commander Maulana Masood Azhar, who was one of the three terrorists released by India in exchange for more than 150 hostages aboard the hijacked plane that was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

The terrorists were exchanged after eight days of negotations. Four accomplices of Rauf — Mohammed Rehan and Mohammed Iqbal from Pakistan, Yusuf Nepali of Nepal and Abdul Latif of India — have already been arrested and are in jail.

Latif in his confession has admitted that Rauf and Yousuf Azhar, brother of Masood Azhar, had travelled to India and Nepal several times before the hijacking to hatch the plot.

Over the years, India had asked Pakistan several times for extradition of the hijackers as well as of their accomplices. Interpol through CBI had issued Red Corner notices for them and the two conspirators, including Rauf.

According to a recent revelation from WikiLeaks, India had also asked for assistance from the US to identify Rauf, by asking for his recent photographs.

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