Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Where are the 3 terrorists who were swapped for 170 passengers of hijacked IC-814?

New Delhi: Tuesday, 24 December, marks 20 years since the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 by five Pakistani terrorists. Their aim was the release of terrorists Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar.

The hijack and subsequent hostage-release situation lasted a week until India agreed to release the three terrorists for about 170 passengers who were onboard.
The IC-814 was hijacked on 24 December 1999, when it was on its way to Delhi from Kathmandu. The flight, which made stops at Amritsar and Lahore, ultimately stationed itself in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The CBI had charged 10 people, out of which seven, including the five hijackers, are believed to be in Pakistan.
On the 20th anniversary of the Kandahar hijack, ThePrint traces the activities of the three terrorists released — Azhar, Sheikh and Zargar — and how they still are a challenge for the security establishment in India.

After his release, Masood Azhar regrouped his terror organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and launched a series of deadly attacks, including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and the Pathankot airbase attack in January 2016.

The most recent terror attack by the Jaish was in February 2019, when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama killing 40 personnel.
Azhar, who was arrested from Kashmir in 1994, is also believed to be supported by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, and was so important that multiple attempts were made to get him released, even before the Kandahar hijack. In July 1995, Al-Faran, a Kashmiri Islamist militant group, kidnapped six foreign tourists from Pahalgam in Kashmir and demanded Azhar’s release in exchange for the tourists.

This year, after much persuasion, the United Nations declared Azhar a global terrorist. At present, he is believed to be suffering from severe renal illness and is undergoing treatment at a military hospital in Pakistan.

Omar Sheikh is, perhaps, most infamous for the 2002 beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was investigating the financing of al-Qaeda.

It is alleged that Sheikh lured Pearl into a trap by promising to arrange an interview with an Islamic cleric, and kidnapped him. Pearl was accused of being an American spy, and Sheikh demanded the release of a halted US shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government to let Pearl go.

Sheikh, along with his associates, kept Pearl captive for nine days before releasing a videotape which showed Pearl’s severed head.

At present, Sheikh, who was arrested on 12 February 2002 in Lahore, is in a Pakistani jail for his role in Pearl’s death. He has been sentenced to death.

Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, who belonged to the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was in jail since 1992.

Intelligence sources said after his release in 1999, Zargar is believed to have renewed the activity of Al-Umar Mujahideen in Muzaffarabad, close to the LoC. Sources also said that Zargar has recruited and trained youngsters for “war” in Kashmir and is believed to have been working to renew the sleeper cells.

Zargar is suspected to be the man behind the June 2019 terror attack in Kashmir’s Anantnag, in which five CRPF personnel were killed and three others were injured after their patrolling party was attacked with grenades.

Also, in 2017, Zargar claimed responsibility for many of the grenade attacks on the security forces in the Kashmir valley.
24/12/19 Ananya Bhardwaj/The Print
To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment