Thursday 26 May 2022
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Another IC-814 hijacker killed: Zafarullah Jamali after Zahoor Mistry

Speculations are rife since the killing of Zahoor Mistry by unknown assailants — as in the case of Zafarullah Jamali — that these are operations of the R&AW, the overseas intelligence agency of India

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Another hijacker of Indian plane IC 814, Zafarullah Jamali, has been killed in Karachi, by some unknown people. Unidentified men riding a motorcycle had killed his fellow-hijacker Zahoor Mistry last week. Mistry had killed Indian passenger, the then newly married Rupin Katyal, when the plane was in Dubai, where the terrorists had forced the plane to land in December 1999. Zafarullah Jamali was the head of the gang of terrorists who had hijacked the Indian Airlines plane.

Two more of the five hijackers are still alive: Ibrahim Azhar (brother of Maulana Masood Azhar) and Rauf Asghar. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, after consultation with all political parties in India, had released the maulana, a terrorist locked in an Indian jail, to rescue the passengers of the plane that had been diverted from Kathmandu to Kandahar in Afghanistan via Amritsar where the government had failed to stop the aircraft from leaving.

Two bike-borne assailants had shot Mistry dead in Karachi’s Akhtar colony. Pakistan’s Geo TV, which identified him as a “businessman” from Karachi, confirmed the killing of the terrorist. Mistry had been living in Karachi under the identity of Zahid Akhund. He operated a furniture business by the name of Crescent Furniture.

IC-814 hijacker Zahoor Mistry along with Maulana Masood Azhar
Zahoor Mistry (left) dead; Maulana Masood Azhar, still at large, heads Jaish-e-Mohammed. The maulana was released in exchange for the passengers of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814.

The IC-814 flight — with 191 occupants (176 passengers including five hijackers and 15 crew members), of whom 190 survived — was hijacked by five masked terrorists shortly after it entered Indian airspace at about 17:30 IST. The hijackers ordered the aircraft to be flown to a series of locations: Amritsar, Lahore and across the Persian Gulf to Dubai. The hijackers finally forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which at the time was controlled by the Taliban. The hijackers released 27 of 176 passengers in Dubai but fatally stabbed one — Rupin Katyal — and wounded several others.

At the time, most of Afghanistan, including the Kandahar airport where the hijacked plane landed, was under Taliban control. Taliban terrorists encircled the aircraft to prevent any Indian military intervention, which was found by current National Security Advisor when he landed there. They also found two ISI officers were on the apron and others soon joined them; one was a lieutenant colonel and the other a major. Doval said that if the Taliban hijackers did not have ISI support, India could have resolved the crisis.

The motive for the hijacking apparently was to secure the release of Islamist terrorists held in prison in India. The hostage crisis lasted for seven days and ended after India agreed to release three terrorists — Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Masood Azhar. The three have since been implicated in other terrorist actions, such as the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl and the 2008 terror attacks.

The hijacking has been seen as one of the millennium attack plots in late December 1999 and early January 2000 by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

There have been speculations since the killing of Mistry that the Research & Analysis Wing, India’s overseas intelligence agency, is on a mission to eliminate the hijackers of the flight IC-814 one by one.

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