I worked as arms dealer for Taliban, claims Sobhraj

NEW DELHI : Serial killer Charles Sobhraj, a Frenchman of Indian and Vietnamese parentage, who has served charlslong jail terms in India and other countries, claimed that he worked as an arms dealer for Taliban after befriending JeM chief Masood Azhar in Tihar prison and was even associated with American spy agency CIA
70-year-old Sobhraj, lodged in central jail of Kathmandu since 2003, said the Taliban needed to sell heroin to buy arms and he had helped the terror group with his contacts.
Recounting his stay in Tihar, Sobhraj said he started working as an arms dealer to the Taliban after coming in contact with Azhar, blamed for masterminding the attack on India’s Parliament.Azhar and two other terrorists were freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999.Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) soon after his release.
Sobhraj said the Taliban needed to sell heroin to buy arms and he had contacts with some Chinese criminals, and even offered to represent the Taliban in a meeting for the deal in Nepal. “But I was also working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” he is quoted as having said in an interview in Kathmandu jail to British magazine GQ.
Sobhraj said he aimed to double-cross both the parties and enable the CIA to smash an international drug and arms deal between a terrorist organisation and a crime syndicate. “I risked my life for the war on terror,” he said, claiming that the spy agency abandoned him when he was arrested. “They could not help me as I was undercover.”
Nicknamed “the Bikini Killer” and “the Serpent” due to his skill at deception and evasion, Sobhraj even claimed that he was contacted by an agent of Saddam Hussein’s regime before the 2003 Iraq war to buy red mercury which is purportedly used in the making nuclear weapons. Sobhraj had escaped Tihar Jail in 1986 after drugging security guards, whom he had served sweets on the pretext of celebrating his birthday. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for various crimes.
He is serving a life-term in the Kathmandu jail since 2003 for the murder of US woman Connie Joe Bronzich in 1975. Of the total 20-year term, Sobhraj has already spent 50 per cent time in the prison. Sobhraj, believed to have killed 15 to 20 people in 1970s, had chances of an early release due to his old age, but filing of a new case has lessened his hopes.
He befriended mostly Western tourists in Asia, later drugging and killing them mostly between 1972 and 1976. After his unsuccessful attempts to escape from jail in Nepal, Sobhraj has been put under tight security in the prison.

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