A man suspected to be Pakistani national Abdul Rauf, accused of financing and coordinating the December 24, 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814, was detained in Chile last week for possessing a fake visa.
Alerted by Interpol, the CBI will send a team to Chile on Tuesday to verify whether the man is Rauf, alias Rauf Alvi. Interpol issued a red-corner notice against Rauf in 2000 and declared a cash award of Rs 10 lakh on information leading to his arrest.The Indian agencies, however, don’t have any photograph or fingerprints to identify Rauf, according to sources in the CBI.
A senior CBI official said on condition of anonymity: "Abdul Rauf, brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammed founder and one of the terrorists exchanged for the IC-814 passengers, was the financier of the Kandahar hijack."
Rauf allegedly sent Rs 78,000 twice to the hijackers through hawala — illegal money transfer channels. He also rented a flat in Subzi Mandi area of Dhaka for the would-be hijackers to stay and attended a few meetings to fine-tune the plan.
During the hijack, Rauf was constantly getting updates from co-accused Abdul Latif, the source said.
A resident of 6-B-1260/l08, Kauser Colony, Model Town, Bahawalpur in Pakistan, Rauf has two other addresses: house number 241, Gulshan Iqbal, plot number 2, Karachi and flat number 4, Dady Mansion, Sadar, Regal Chownk, Karachi.
IC-814, which left Kathmandu on December 24, 1999 at around 4.30pm for Delhi, was hijacked by five armed men between Varanasi and Lucknow and finally diverted to Kandahar after stopping in Amritsar and Lahore.
The aircraft and its 11-member crew and 179 passengers were released on December 31 in exchange for three high-profile terrorists — Azhar, Al Umar Mujahideen chief Mushtaq Zargar (a Kashmiri) and Ahmed Omar Sayeed Sheikh, who was later convicted of the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi.