NIA corners Pakistan with names of 4 Pathankot terrorists


NEW DELHI: In the biggest breakthrough so far in the Pathankot probe, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has nailed the identity of the four fidayeen who struck at the IAF airbase on January 2, and their two Pakistan-based Jaish handlers.

The slain terrorists’ names reportedly are Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) districts of Pakistan, respectively.

The names and addresses of the terrorists, whose bodies were recovered from the encounter site, and their handlers were shared by the NIA with the Pakistani joint investigation team (JIT) on Wednesday. “We have asked them to confirm these and get back to us,” NIA DG Sharad Kumar said.

The identity and origins of those behind the attack were worked out by NIA sleuths through laborious investigations over the past three months. The NIA was tight-lipped on how these details were cracked, with Kumar only attributing it to “a thorough, professional and transparent investigation by the agency”. “The identities (worked out by the NIA) are confirmed,” he insisted. The NIA had recently released photos of the four terrorists on its website, inviting the public to identify them.

The Jaish-e-Muhammed handlers identified by the NIA are Kashif Jan, resident of Tehsil Dusra in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Shahid Latif, resident of More Aminabad in Gujaranwala. Latif is incharge of Jaish operations in Manday ki Dett, Sialkot, and is responsible for launching cadres into India.

Interestingly, Latif had visited Kashmir earlier and served more than 10 years in an Indian jail before being deported to Pakistan via Wagah. According to Sharad Kumar, the JIT informed the NIA Kashif was missing ever since his name surfaced in the probe.

The pinpointed results of the NIA’s probe have ruled out any scope for deniability on Islamabad’s part about the Pathankot attack conspiracy having been hatched on its soil and its execution by Pakistani fidayeen, duly facilitated by Pakistani handlers.

With reciprocity the basis for allowing the JIT’s probe on Indian soil, the NIA hopes to travel to Pakistan soon to take forward its investigation. NIA sleuths will seek access to Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf in Pakistan.

The NIA, during discussions with the JIT in New Delhi on Wednesday, sought voice samples of Azhar, Rauf, Latif and Kashif. The agency also asked Pakistan to provide DNA/voice samples of Khayyam Baber, mother of fidayeen Nasir who made calls to her from Pathankot.

The NIA gave the JIT names and addresses of four suspects based in Pakistan, and asked it to conduct raids on the premises of Al-Rehmat Trust, the operational financing body of JeM.

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