One of the five Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants, arrested in Dhaka on Saturday night, Nannu Mian alias Bilal Mandal alias Bilal has admitted that he planned and executed the Indian Airlines plane hijack from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999, reports a Bangladesh news portal.
Bilal Mandal returned to Bangladesh recently after serving 10 years in a prison in Guwahati in India.
The 35-year-old Jaish-e-Mohammed militant was convicted for involvement in the hijacking of the aircraft which was taken to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where one passenger was killed, the Daily Star reported Monday.
While talking to journalists, Billal admitted that he had a role in hijacking the Indian Airlines plane which was flying to Delhi from Kathmandu.
The hijackers forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar of the then Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The Indian authorities had to set free three militant leaders, including Harkat-ul-Mujaheedin's Maulana Masood Azhar, who after being freed in Kandahar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammed, in exchange for passengers taken hostage.
Billal, a Bangladeshi national, said he was born in Dharampur village in Sylhet. He is married to a woman hailing from Bashirhat of West Bengal in India.
He confessed that he had tried to enter India through Satkhira border on south-western border along West Bengal a few months back to appear before a Bashirhat court hearing a case against him.
Also caught Saturday-Sunday night was Pakistani national Rizwan Ahmed, 26.
During primary interrogation, Rizwan said he was trained to operate AK-47, machine-guns, sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and explosive devices.
He said his assignment in Bangladesh was to recruit local youths and prepare them to stage attacks in India.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that arrested the five militants said Rizwan is the son of Shafi Uddin, a resident of Delhi Colony in Karachi.
'The arrested Pakistani citizen, a member of Jaish-e-Mohammad, was involved in fuelling insurgencies in India using the soil of Bangladesh,' Colonel Motiur Rahman, additional director general of the battalion, told newsmen.
The RAB, however, could not establish if the detained were wanted or enlisted by Interpol, the US State Department or the Bangladesh government, New Age newspaper said.
The official said Rizwan had been recruiting members for the outfit and acting as its regional coordinator. 'He has been in Bangladesh for three and a half years.'
This is the first time that law enforcers here have captured suspected members of the JeM, one of the major terrorist outfits operating in South Asia.
In a pre-dawn raid on a flat in the Sukanya Tower in the national capital, the crime busters also seized three passports, two of them issued in Pakistan, one knife, one CPU, four national ID cards, five mobile phones and Indian currency worth RS.2,000.
The passports belong to Rizwan, Billal and another Pakistani named Jawad.