New Delhi: The jehadi terrorists who attacked Pathankot air base had conducted mocks drills at an airbase in Pakistan, in what could confirm the active collaboration of the Pak military and ISI in the fidayeen assault.
Highly-placed intelligence sources said they have come to the chilling determination on the basis of intelligence intercepts and from contacts in jehadi groups. They said the extensive training session at one of the Pakistani airbases included several dry runs of breaching the security perimeter: a lesson the terrorists put to lethal use when they managed to enter the Pathankot base.
The use of weapons, including UBLs, or under barrel guns- improvised versions of AK -47 assault rifles which can be used as mortar launchers- point to the rigorous planning which went into the attack that has set back the prospect of a fresh effort at normalization of ties.
The precise information gleaned from intercepts and contacts within Jaish’s local collaborators, according to sources, set the tone for Narendra Modi’s conversation with Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday afternoon, with the PM citing the evidence that links the terrorist attack to Pakistan.
Sources said when Modi asked his Pakistani counterpart to swiftly deliver on his promise of co-operation, he meant prompt action against the seven jehadi terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad.
According to sources, the PM told Shaif about the evidence NSA Ajit Doval has shared with his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Khan Janjua about the “Gang of 7” which includes JeM founder Maulana Masood Azhar and his younger brother Mufti Abdur Rauf Asghar.
Doval’s list also includes Maulana Ashfaq and Haji Shakqur (some channels have introduced him as Hafiz Ahmad Shaqur), leading Jaish operatives from Bahawalpur who played a key role in engineering the attack on the IAF station.
When contacted, Doval declined to confirm that he had passed on to Janjua the names of Pathankot plotters along with precise details like passport numbers, phone numbers and residential addresses.
Others on his list are Jaan Ali Kasif of village Dosirah in Charsada district and Saifullah and Iftikhar, both from Shakargarh.
Intercepts with Indian agencies have identified Kasif, who carries Pakistani passport no SV- 1797281, as the trainer of the group.
The specific details came amid speculation that Indian security forces may have captured alive at least one of the fidayeen raider or penetrated local collaborators of Jaish.
However, there was no official confirmation.
Significantly, among the Pak-based jehadi groups, Jaish has always been considered to be more vulnerable to Indian intelligence agencies.
Saifullah and Iftikhar, who currently run an organization Shoba-e-Dawat in Sialkot, helped launch the jehadi group into India from their home town Shakargarh.
Masood Azhar and his brother Abdur Rauf Asgar have been running a religious seminary Markaz-e-Usman-O-Ali on Bahwalpur’s Railway Link Road and use the front of Al Rahman Trust to raise funds for their jehadi game-plan against India.