The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in its chargesheet filed on Monday that Jaish-e-Mohammed operative Shahid Latif planned January’s Pathankot airbase attack in April 2014 at a meeting in Pakistan’s Sialkot showing the terrorists the location of the airbase on Google Maps. He thought that it was “easy” to attack the airbase since it is surrounded by forests.
Heavily armed terrorists stormed the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January this year killing six security personnel and injuring 38 others. Five terrorists were also killed in the gun battle that lasted for 17 hours.
The chargesheet, which names JeM founder Masood Azhar as the mastermind, quoted one of the witnesses as saying that the attackers were “very talkative” and spoke about how Azhar had motivated them for the attack and their association with the terror outfit. One of the terrorists was referred to as “Major” and spoke to someone from Pakistan over the phone referring to him as “Ustadji.”
“The Major… said that he and his companions were members of a great organisation, Jaish-e Mohammed, and that they had been imparted true knowledge of Islam by Maulana Masood Azhar. They were also repeatedly taking the name of Azhar and Abdul Rauf, who directly meet, motivate, encourage and send people for waging jihad in India,” the chargesheet stated.
The attackers received a call from a Pakistani phone number on January 1 when they were moving towards the airbase. The attackers discussed the route and plan with Ustadji. According to the chargesheet, the number was “associated with the Facebook profile of Kashif Jan” and revealed his close connection with JeM members. Details of the conversations, he had with the other members about the attack, was also found on his profile.
“All the registration and login IP address used for this account belong to Pakistan,” the chargesheet stated.
The chargesheet also mentioned that the number was linked with video messenger IMO with Jan being named as the account holder. “The phone set used by Kashif Jan is an Android phone Qmobile X600 manufactured by QMobile which is a Pakistan-based smartphone company,” it said.
The NIA found another number that the terrorists had called on to be linked with JeM’s Al Rehmat Trust. “This number is present on the information banner of the Al Rehmat Trust on the website, http://www.rangonoor.com” — a JeM mouthpiece,” the chargesheet stated adding that an audio clip by Abdul Rauf Asghar was found on the website where he claimed responsibility for the attack.
The transcript of the clip was uploaded on another website called alqalamonline.com that was found to be connected to a landline number in Pakistan, the hosting of which was paid using a Pakistan credit card.
The investigating agency also attached various medicines, food packets and shoes of the terrorists as evidence to prove the Pakistan link. The chargesheet mentioned four painkiller injections manufactured by Sami Pharmacy, Schazoo Pharmaceuticals Industries, Sheikhpura and E-Pharma, all of which are located in Karachi in Pakistan.
However, the chargesheet could not establish that there were six terrorists behind the attack on the airbase. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had previously said in Parliament that six terrorists were involved in the attack. His statement was based on a forensic report that stated that burnt remains found from an airmen’s billet were that of a human male.
“Due to the absence of any recovered arms from the aforementioned billet, its residential nature and the inconclusive DNA analysis report of the charred mass, the presence of any other terrorist could not be established till date,” the chargesheet said, adding that investigation relating to this particular issue would continue and that they had asked the AOC Air Force Station in Pathankot to provide the agency with the UAV footage carried out during the terror attack.
The chargesheet stated that the attackers infiltrated into Pathankot with weapons and logistical items through a forested area near the Simbal border outpost and not through the Punjab border as claimed by the BSF. Empty food packets and other food articles with Pakistan written on them were found from the forested area.
The agency also said that Nasir Hussain, one of the terrorists who carried out the attack, called a woman in Pakistan and addressed him as “mother” asking her to host a feast for his friends after his death.
“In the instant case, it was revealed that the leaders/handlers and co-conspirators of the JeM… sent four terrorists, namely Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq, and Abdul Qayum, all residents of Pakistan, trained in terrorist tradecraft and belonging to JeM, with sophisticated arms, ammunition and other logistical items from across Pakistan on 30.12.2015. They illegally crossed the Indo-Pak international border through the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost (manned by BSF). Empty food packets manufactured in Pakistan and other food articles from Pakistan were recovered from the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost,” the chargesheet said.
It added that the DNA samples of the genetic material taken from a dagger of one of the terrorists matched those who died in the attack while the seat belt of the vehicle they used was cut to tie one of the victims. A walkie-talkie set was also recovered from the terrorists along with a slip that was retrieved from the vehicle. The message in the slip said: “Jaish-e-Muhamad Zindabad, Tanghdar se le kar Samba, Kathua, Rajbagh aur Delhi tak, Afzal Guru shadeed kay jaan nisar tum ko meltay rahege. Insha Allah. A.G.S. 25.”
After the chargesheet was filed, NIA chief Sharad Kumar told reporters: “It is unfortunate that Pakistan didn’t allow the visit of NIA officials. When the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) came to India, we were promised a reciprocal visit for gathering additional evidence in Pakistan. If allowed to visit Pakistan, we would have asked for questioning of the JeM leadership, thorough searches at its headquarter in Bahawalpur and training camps at other places. But Pakistan went back on its promise.”
Kumar also spoke about Pakistan’s role in the attack and said: “The JeM doesn’t work in isolation. The way it operates openly along with its front outfit al Rehmat Trust in Pakistan, it is quite not possible without the patronage of Pakistani state.”
He added that the NIA chargesheet will add weight to India’s case in the UN for declaring Masood Azhar a global terrorist, the Hindustan Times reported.