Thursday, August 27, 2020

The IC 814 hijacking and the Pulwama attack - a story of two terror incidents

In December 1999, an Indian Airlines flight travelling from Nepal to India was hijacked and eventually flown to Afghanistan. Having left from Katmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, Flight 814 first landed in Amritsar airport and then Lahore Airport for refueling, then Dubai Airport before reaching Kandahar.

The hijackers had demanded the release of several individuals, including Maulana Masood Azhar who would soon found the JeM. Eventually, the CBI would go on to charge 10 people, including Ibrahim Athar - one of the hijackers. At the time, it was reported that seven of these individuals, including the five hijackers were absconding and believed to be in Pakistan. An interpol notice puts Athar's nationality and place of birth as Pakistan, and adds that he is wanted for "hijacking, kidnapping and murder".
We mention this because there is a strange connection between this attack and the Pulwama attack of February 2019. The National Investigation Agency recently named Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as the number one accused in their chargesheet for the Pulwama terror attack.
But what is even more interesting to note, in context with this article, is the identity of one of the 19 individuals named in the NIA's 13,800-page chargesheet-- the now deceased mastermind behind the attack.
Mohammad Umar Farooq, who is believed to have masterminded the Pulwama attack is the son of Ibrahim Athar.
According to reports, JeM terrorists and their commanders in Pakistan had deposited Rs 10 lakh in Pakistani currency in Mohammad Umar Farooq's bank account for carrying out the 2019 attack.
The chargesheet said that the main accused Farooq, also visited Afghanistan for explosives training in 2016-17. "In lieu of the lives of the 155 passengers, Azhar was released from an Indian prison," the official said referring to the 1999 hijack of the Indian Airlines jetliner.
27/08/20 Anwesha Mitra/Free Press Journal
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