Al-Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group has claimed responsibility for abduction of the son-in-law of a former top Pakistani General and demanded Rs 130 million and release of 153 arrested terrorists for setting him free, more than five months after the kidnapping.
Authorities have received a video message from Amir Aftab Malik, the 35-year-old son-in-law of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman Gen Tariq Majid, in which he states he is in the custody of militants belonging to the banned LeJ.
Malik, a jeweller from Lahore, was kidnapped by armed men in August last year.
In the video message, a visibly shaken and bearded Amir states that his kidnappers want the payment of Rs 130 million as ransom and the release of 153 militants being held in prisons across the country, 'The News' daily reported today.
The video shows masked militants carrying Kalashnikovs in the background.
Security officials investigating the first incident involving the abduction of a close relative of an army general said the video did not give a deadline for the acceptance of LeJ's demands.
They said Malik is being held in North Waziristan tribal region by Punjabi Taliban militants led by Matiur Rehman, the chief operational commander of LeJ and one of FBI's most wanted al-Qaeda-linked militant commanders.
Among the 153 terrorists whose release has been sought by the kidnappers are Malik Mohammad Ishaq, a founding member of LeJ currently being held in a Lahore jail; Akram Lahori, another top LeJ leader being held in a Karachi jail; and Mohammad Aqeel alias Dr Usman, who was captured after a terrorist attack on the army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on October 10, 2009.
Investigators said the main motive behind Malik's abduction could be the role played by his father-in-law, Gen Majid, in the 2007 military operation against radical elements holed up in the Lal Masjid in Islamabad.
Majid, who retired in October 2010, was the commander of the Rawalpindi-based 10 Corps at the time of the Lal Masjid operation. He was in-charge of troops who stormed the Lal Masjid.
Soon after the operation, Majid was promoted by thenmilitary ruler Pervez Musharraf to the post of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The officials said a copy of Malik's video message had been provided to his family, which also received a phone call from the kidnappers.
The abductors allowed the family to have a brief conversation with Malik.