NEW DELHI: Interpol on Tuesday issued a red corner notice (RCN) against militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and his brother for their alleged involvement in the Pathankot air base attack earlier this year, Times of India reported.
At least 7 Indian troops were killed during an attack on the sprawling 2,000 acre installation in Pathankot. Gunmen besieged the air base for nearly a week before security forces were able to secure the installation.
The Indian National Investigation Agency sought the notice against Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf, Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif, the suspected handlers of the Pathankot attackers.
Masood Azhar was arrested in India in February 1994 but India was forced to release him and two others — Mushtaq Zargar and Umar Sheikh — in Dec 1999 in exchange for passengers and crews of an Indian flight that was hijacked by militants linked to Harkatul Mujahideen from Kathmandu and forced to land in Kandahar.
Abdul Rauf is believed to have masterminded the hijacking. After his return to Pakistan, Azhar split with Harkatul Mujahideen in 2000 and formed JeM.
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Interpol issues an RCN against any accused after it receives all information and evidence against him from the country in which the crime has been committed.
An RCN, however, is not an international arrest warrant and Interpol cannot force Pakistan to arrest Azhar. India had also managed to get an RCN issued against Azhar earlier, but it could not force Pakistan to take any tangible action against him.
Earlier this year, Pakistan investigators probing the Pathankot airbase attack across the border told Indian interlocutors that it had yet to find evidence linking Masood Azhar to the terror attack but India maintains JeM is responsible for the attack.
In April, China blocked India's call to ban Masood Azhar at the United Nations (UN). The UN banned Jaish in 2001 but India’s efforts to get restrictions imposed on Azhar after the Mumbai attacks did not bear fruit because China did not allow them to be imposed.