Two previous sightings of Abdul Rauf, in South Korea and in Lebanon, turned out to be false alarms, but if the Pakistani man detained in Chile is indeed the alleged coordinator and financier of the December 24, 1999 IC-814 hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814, it could be bad news for Pakistan.
Rauf could spill beans on the role played by the Pakistan spy agency ISI in the hijacking.
The hijacking was an ISI operation and security sources say there is overwhelming evidence to suggest Pakistan’s complicity in the crime. Intercepted communication showed the hijackers were in constant touch with the ISI officials at every stage of the operation.
The hijackers were provided with a sophisticated satellite equipment to communicate with the ISI officials. The hijackers proceeded to Kandahar even when authorities in Kabul refused to allow the plane to land, on the instructions of their ISI masters. When then foreign minister Jaswant Singh landed in Kandahar to negotiate with hijackers they were constantly in touch with ISI officials.
After 9/11, when American forces flushed out the Taliban from Afghanistan, a CBI team visited Kabul and it was provided access to former Taliban foreign minister Mulla Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil who told the investigators that the hijacking was an ISI operation. The Indian security establishment is not pinning hopes on the detention of the ‘real Rauf’ in Chile, but are withholding their final judgment for now.
“The similarities, as per the Chilean claims, include the detainee’s age-profile with Rauf alias Rauf Alvi, who was born in 1974 in Pakistan,” said the source. “The detainee is said to bear physical characteristics that could be similar to Rauf’s.”
There are key dissimilarities too. The source said, “The detainee’s parents’ names, according to his version, do not match with those of Rauf. The detainee told the Chilean authorities he was a resident of Karachi, though Rauf was from Bahawalpur.”
(Inputs from Abhishek Sharan)