Srinagar: Digital intelligence shared by the US security agencies was crucial in fixing Amir Zubair Siddiqui, Counsellor (Visa) at the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka, in the alleged terror plot to blow up vital establishments in India.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday chargesheeted Siddiqui and two others in the alleged conspiracy to attack nuclear installations, defence establishments, the US Consulate in Chennai, the Israeli Consulate in Bengaluru and ports, a report published in The Hindu said on Saturday.
The Hindu alleges that Thameem Ansari and Mohamed Zakir Hussain were the main agents hired by Siddiqui to gather details of the high-security establishments across the country. After their arrest, both the suspects confessed that the Pakistan diplomat was their handler and they transmitted videos/photographs of target locations to him.
However, the agency could not gather adequate evidence to name Siddiqui in the chargesheet. “The NIA then initiated steps to seek the expertise of some foreign countries under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to extract digital evidence to prove the involvement of the Pakistan diplomat. Since visual elements were sent by e-mail and Facebook, we approached US Intelligence agencies through Interpol seeking their support in cracking the case,” a source was quoted in the report as saying.
The official said the agency was able to obtain extracts of the e-mail used to plot attacks in India.
“We also verified that the e-mail was accessed from an Internet Protocol (IP) address that was installed in the Pakistan Consulate in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The e-mail was created with the only objective of pursuing the crime and suspects in India and Sri Lanka knew the password. The modus operandi was to drop the sensitive information in the .draft box,” the official was quoted as saying.
The plan was to smuggle in two Pakistan nationals to carry out the attacks using fake passport and visa. “Hussain was instructed to arrange for the fake documents and he even met the two suspects at an undisclosed location in Thailand. Ansari was instructed to arrange for Army uniform to enable the suspects to gain access to vital installations. He befriended a former Army officer in Thanjavur and managed to take photographs of a full Army uniform along with medals and shoes,” he said. The NIA could not establish how Siddiqui used the maps, photographs and video clips of high-security establishments that were sent to him by e-mail.
NIA sources told the newspaper Siddiqui visited Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata after the terror module was busted. Details of the places he visited or the persons he met were under investigation. Instead of using the diplomatic passport, the suspect used a regular passport for his visit to India, the sources added.