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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Security Expert: Aeroflot Hijacking Plot Foiled

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah plotted to hijack an Aeroflot plane from Bangkok and crash it into Singapore's airport to show support for the Chechen cause, a security expert said Monday.

Many Jemaah Islamiyah members sympathize with the Chechen cause, notably the captured suspected commander of the network's Singapore arm, Mas Selamat Kastari, who allegedly plotted the hijacking, Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told reporters at an anti-terrorism seminar.

Gunaratna said Kastari told authorities the reason his militant network wanted to use a Russian plane was to "show the Russians that what they're doing in Chechnya is wrong."

He said authorities foiled the plot, but did not say when it was supposed to have been carried out.

Gunaratna also said al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah might seek to cooperate with Chechen separatists to safeguard its survival amid a mounting regional crackdown.

Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov met suspected Southeast Asian terror mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, when Maskhadov visited the region in the late 1990s, but their discussions have not been revealed, Gunaratna said.

Hambali is believed to be the operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been blamed for the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 people, and a suicide blast at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta this month that left nine dead. He was arrested in Thailand last year.