India

NIA charges JeM chief for Pathankot airbase attack

A file photo of Maulana Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammad chief. File photo

A file photo of Maulana Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammad chief. File photo

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a charge sheet against Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and two others, Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan, all based in Pakistan, for plotting and executing a fidayeen (suicide) attack at the Pathankot airbase on January 2 this year.

 

The NIA charge sheet said there were only four terrorists at the airbase and the presence of any other terrorist could not be established till date. It, however, said investigations in this regard would continue.

 

It said JeM had been plotting the strike since April 2014 as it was “easy to attack the Air Force station as there were forests surrounding it.”

 

 

Alternative target

 

Seven security personnel, including an NSG commando, were killed and 37 injured in the terror attack. The terrorists had an alternative plan to attack a police station if the Pathankot operation failed.

 

The 101-page charge sheet was filed in an NIA court at Mohali in Punjab. The exact number of terrorists involved has been a mystery as the bodies of only four were recovered from the airbase.

 

The National Security Guard (NSG), which led the offensive, said it had killed two more terrorists at the airmen billet and their bodies could not be recovered as the building was blown up.

 

In its charge sheet, accessed by The Hindu, the NIA said, “Oral, documentary and scientific evidence such as the DNA profiling reports has established the presence of four terrorists at the scene of crime. The expert opinion of Central Forensic Science Laboratory [CFSL] regarding the charred/burnt mass, having pieces of clothes and parts of a backpack, which were recovered from a residential [airmen] billet, by the armed forces, was inconclusive, as far as revealing anyone’s identity, age, origin or number of persons is concerned.”

 

The NIA has named 115 witnesses, including six protected witnesses and two men from Pakistan who helped identify the slain terrorists.

 

The agency has also named a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent and a trial attorney of the U.S. Department of Justice as witnesses.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 7:02:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national//article60629381.ece