As usual, things are never as cut-and-dried as the press would like them to be. Most news reports – and this blog – stated that Belal Hosein, the jihadist captured in Bangladesh, was a key figure in the 1999 Indian Airlines hijacking. Today, Praveen Swami in The Hindu says that he was probably not involved in that particular plot. Although he claimed he was shortly after the incident and Dhaka was a staging post for the operation, no Bangladeshis were directly involved according to the intelligence report of 2000. Swami has excellent contacts in the intelligence services, so he’s a pretty good person to listen to.
He argues that the arrest is more important as evidence of the inter-linkages between militant groups across South Asia, and the continuing – perhaps growing – threat to India. Hosein is thought to be part of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) in Bangladesh, which has close ties to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan. Intelligence officers say the JMB were involved in the foiled plot to bomb US and Indian embassies in Dhaka late last year. According to Swami, the group was in the advanced stages of a plot to strike targets within India.
Also, the International Crisis Group has just released a pretty comprehensive report on the JMB.