Al-Qaeda operative admits link with Kandahar hijack terrorists

BHUBANESWAR: Al-Qaeda Indian sub-continent (AQIS) operative Mohammed Abdur Rehman has admitted his links with the terrorists involved in the 1999 Kandahar plane hijack and 2002 American Centre blast incident in Kolkata, a senior police official said on Thursday.

Al-Qaeda operative admits link with Kandahar hijack terrorists

The Air India plane was hijacked in 1999. File photo

rchopra@tribunemail.com

Bhubaneswar, June 23

Al-Qaeda Indian sub-continent (AQIS) operative Mohammed Abdur Rehman has admitted his links with the terrorists involved in the 1999 Kandahar plane hijack and 2002 American Centre blast incident in Kolkata, a senior police official said on Thursday.

Rehman had provided safe shelter in Cuttack to a Pakistani terrorist involved in the Kandahar plane hijack. The said terrorist belonged to Pak-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen group that hijacked the Delhi-bound Air India flight IC-184 from Kathamandu to Kandahar, said an official of the Special Task Force of Crime Branch of Odisha Police.

The hijackers had demanded release of Azhar Masood in order to release the passengers of the plane.

“As one of the terrorists involved in the hijack was close to Rehman, he brought him to Cuttack and kept him in a secret location,” the officer said quoting the AQIS operative, who is being interrogated by the STF.

Though Rehman, who has been brought on a 10-day remand by Odisha Police, initially refused to admit his links with terror outfits, he opened up as soon as evidence collected by NIA and IB were placed before him, the officer said.

He added that police had been probing into the truth behind Rehman’s statements.

“We have been locating the places where Rehman actually sheltered the Pakistani terrorist,” the officer said, adding that the operative’s brother was also one of the accused persons in the 2002 American Centre blast.

Though Rehman’s brother got acquitted in the case, police said that now his younger brother (Rehman) had revealed that one of the terrorists was brought to Cuttack where he got safe shelter.

“We will verify both statements before coming to any conclusion,” the officer said, adding the STF had been investigating into the Odisha link of Rehman.

The operative, who was running a madrassa at Tangi near Cuttack, was arrested during a joint operation of Delhi Police and Odisha Police on December 16, 2015. He was brought from Delhi to the state on remand.

As a cleric, Rehman was addressing a number of ‘Jalsa’ functions both in Odisha and Jharkhand, where he allegedly delivered provocative speeches.

Sources said Rehman would be questioned about his links in Odisha and the source of the funds he received to run the madrassa.

He was booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. PTI

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