1,614. 12/24/1999

An Air India plane, “with more than 150 passengers and crew on board, was hijacked after departing Nepal on December 24 [1999]; it touched down in India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Kandahar [Afghanistan] on Christmas Day. The hijackers demanded freedom for three Kashmiri separatists in Indian jails, among them Maulana Muhammad Masood Azhar, a Pakistani-born cleric accused by India of belonging to HUM [Harkat-ul-Mujahideen], which was on the U.S. list of global terror organizations. Azhar had been held in an Indian jail since 1994. The other two men–Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar and Omar Saeed Sheikh–had been held since 1992 and 1994, respectively. According to reporter Peter Bergen, who covered the crisis, bin Laden played a key behind-the-scenes role between HUM and the Taliban, urging the hijackers to ‘cut the best possible deal’ for themselves. After a week of negotiations, India released the three men and flew them to Kandahar. Along with the five hijackers, they disappeared into the dust in Afghanistan.”

 РRoy Gutman, How We Missed the Story, Page 192

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