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Pak used India's most wanted in Masjid talks
July 11, 2007 03:03 IST
Fazalur Rehman Khalil, a militant leader who figures in India's list of most wanted terrorists, was roped in by Pakistani authorities to persuade radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi of Lal Masjid to give in before security forces launched a crackdown on the mosque.
Journalists covering the stand-off between security forces and militants holed up in the Lal Masjid were surprised last night to see Khalil, the head of the outlawed Harkat-ul- Mujahideen, driving into the mosque complex in the same car as the leader of the negotiating team, former prime minister Shujaat Hussain.
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Ghazi was killed in the military operation.
Khalil was reportedly roped in for the parleys because he knew Ghazi well and had links with his family.
Khalil, a fierce militant and an extremist who was shunned till recently for his links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, smiled when the media noticed him sitting in Shujaat Hussain's vehicle.
Along with Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Lashker-e-Taiba founder Hafeez Mohammed Sayed, Khalil is in the list of most wanted terrorists that India has handed over to Pakistan.
Khalil was patronised by the Pakistani establishment when he was involved in militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir [Images] but became a hot potato after 9/11.
He was also one of the five signatories of Osama bin Laden's fatwa in 1998 asking Muslims across the world to kill American citizens.
He was arrested in May 2004 by the Pakistan government after he continued to defy the government and send militants into Afghanistan to fight along with the Taliban.
He was released subsequently for lack of evidence.