The Islamabad police have said that Irtiyaz and Dr. Mujahid Gilani, who escaped during a raid last month on their home on the outskirts of the city, are linked to al-Qaeda. A cousin of theirs, teenaged Shoaib Andrabi, is in judicial custody till October 21.

A senior police official who did not wish to be named told The Hindu on Monday that the Gilanis’ link to al-Qaeda and that they were using their house to test spy planes were now part of the official record. He said the police were still looking for the two Gilani brothers and others who could be involved in the case. There was no mention of the two women who went missing from the house after the police raid at Gilani Manzil around 1 a.m. on September 7.

All three men in question are nephews of Syed Asiya Andrabi, founder-chairperson of Dukhtaraan-e-Millat, the all-women Kashmiri Islamist separatist group. Shoaib is the first son of Asiya Andrabi’s brother Zia-ul-Haq Andrabi. Irtiyaz, an aeronautical engineer, is Asiya Andrabi’s sister Rehana’s son. He and his younger brother Mujahid Gilani, a paediatric surgeon, lived in the house. Dr. Mujahid had a practice in the neighbourhood market. Their elder brother, Zulqarnain, a captain in the Pakistan Army, was an occasional visitor at Gilani Manzil.

While Shoaib Andrabi was arrested, Irtiyaz Un Nabi Gilani alias Sarfi fired at the police while running away, according to the first information report. A large drum filled with explosives and arms was found buried on the premises. The police had then said there was evidence of work on spy planes but recently confirmed a “drone” project. The drones were to be used on high-security targets, according to a report in The News .

The plot has since thickened with the arrest of a Hammad Adil and another suspect in the case of a huge arms cache found in the Bhara Kahu area of Islamabad and for several other high-profile crimes including the killing of public prosecutor Chaudhry Iftikhar and Shahbaz Bhatti. Police are on the lookout for Tanveer, an al-Qaeda operative allegedly behind a series of killings and blasts and who is suspected to have links with the Gilanis. Related incidents including an attempted suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Bhara Kahu and a huge cache of explosives being found in a car in the same area.