February 20, 2020
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Tracing A Puppet Chain

Evidence gathered from the slain terrorists and their four accomplices point to Jaish in Pakistan

Tracing A Puppet Chain
Gireesh G.V
Tracing A Puppet Chain
It left everyone incredulous. Without much drama on Sunday, December 16, barely 72 hours after the terrorist assault on Parliament, Delhi police commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma announced to the world that the special cell of the city police had cracked the case. Four associates of the slain terrorists had been nabbed. Mohammed Afzal, Jaish-e-Mohammad's main coordinator in Delhi, and his accomplice Shaukat Hussain, a fruit trader, were arrested in Srinagar. Shaukat's wife Afsan Guru and a Delhi University lecturer in Arabic, Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, were also nabbed from Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar. The cops had managed to trace them on the basis of calls made to the terrorists' cellphones.

Sharma claims, on the basis of initial investigations, that the ISI, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had put their heads together to hatch the attack plan. A week of marathon investigation and interrogation has revealed:

  • Leads on the modus operandi accessed from the laptop used by the suicide squad (all Pakistanis, identified as Mohammed, Rana, Haider, Hamza and Raja). Digital information (including e-mail messages), exchanged between the terrorists, and the JeM commanders, the ISI and LeT operatives across the border and in the Valley, too revealed their plans.

  • It also brought to light the fact that the terrorists received over Rs 20 lakh through hawala, half of which was used to execute the plan. An unexpended amount of Rs 10 lakh, along with the laptop, were recovered from Afzal and Shaukat after their arrests.

  • The laptop was used to manufacture fake home ministry parking labels and identity cards. Twenty-one pictures of Parliament clicked from various angles were downloaded from TV.

  • The five cellphones and six SIM cards, recovered from the car used by the terrorists, established their overseas links. The calls prove the terrorists frequently called Karachi, Dubai and Germany.

  • Afzal's statement during his interrogation that Mohammed and 'Burger' of the IC-814 hijack are one and the same is one of the most vital clues which links the militants to JeM. If proved, it will establish the outfit's role conclusively. This link is being probed by the CBI. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory is conducting tests on Mohammed's corpse and tallying it with Burger's picture.

  • Military intelligence has wireless intercepts of messages sent from across the border, immediately after the attack, by JeM commanders, the ISI and LeT operatives to JeM operatives in the Valley. It directs militant outfits to refrain from taking responsibility.

  • Investigations show that the weapons used by the terrorists were supplied by the Pakistani army. Electric detonators recovered from slain terrorists had markings of Wah Nobel—a joint venture company of Saab Bofors, Sweden, and Pakistan ordnance factories based in Wah cantonment.

Of the four accomplices arrested, Afzal has provided considerable information about the ISI's, the LeT's and the JeM's involvement.

Thirty-year-old Afzal, who joined the JKLF in 1990 after finishing schooling from Sopore, Baramullah, was selected as the key pointsman in Delhi for the attack. Afzal confessed that he was contacted by Tariq, a close associate of Ghazi Baba alias Doctor, the supreme commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad in the Valley. Ghazi Baba, a Pakistani national, impressed upon him to set up base in Delhi. Afzal did so and roped in cousin Shaukat and friend Geelani, the Delhi University lecturer.In October, Afzal met Ghazi Baba who told him about the planned fidayeen attack and handed him a laptop and Rs 50,000.

Ghazi Baba also sent along Mohammed to lead the suicide squad. From October to the first week of December, Afzal arranged safe stay for Mohammed's four-member team. It was Mohammed who finally chose Parliament, though they had also considered the Delhi assembly and the international airports as targets. They had even thought of hitting an embassy.

Once the plans were approved by Ghazi Baba, they set about checking their weapons—four AK assault rifles, three pistols, 12 magazines, one grenade launcher, 15 shells, 15 grenades and two packets of detonators, radio-activated devices and two wireless sets. With this they stormed Parliament on December 13. Ghazi Baba had directed them to kill as many political leaders as possible. However, their plans went awry.

The Delhi police are running a fine-tooth comb for more clues. For now, they have Afzal and co's confessions and the information on the laptop. But further material evidence is required. Establishing the identity of the five members of the squad is crucial to the investigation. As a result, the police and forensic experts are working overtime to establish that Mohammed was 'Burger', who was involved in the Kandahar hijack.
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