Hijack alert before I-Day
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India's aviation security regulator has issued an alert for a possible attempt to hijack a passenger aircraft by a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist of Yemeni origin before Independence Day. The man, Yasmin al-Bashir, is reportedly already in India with 10 associates including women, and is believed to be somewhere in Rajasthan now.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issued the hijack alert a week before Independence Day on the basis of intelligence input from India's external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Top sources in RAW confirmed that specific intelligence had been passed on to other agencies.
According to the alert, Al-Bashir is a trained pilot, and might make his hijack attempt between August 12 and 14. The alert circular says that at least four members of the 14-strong Lashkar team have secured fake identity cards, and may have done a recce of at least four airports: Jammu, Srinagar, Jaipur and Chandigarh.
Two of the four terrorists are women, the circular, citing the intelligence input, says. It names them as Rukhsana Sultana Amin and Suriya Begum — both 22 years old, and pretending to be couples with the two men, Ziauddin Masud and Mudassar Hussain Beig.
According to the alert, some of the terrorists could be hiding out in Visakhapatnam. The alert also says that along with the hijacking, an attempt could be made to carry out a blast around the airport in Delhi.
BCAS has issued 13 precautionary directions, including a review of counter-terrorism measures. Airline security wings and state and central security agencies have been put on high alert, and airport authorities have been asked to conduct co-ordination meetings. Security at and around Delhi airport has been stepped up. BCAS is closely monitoring security arrangements.
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