Central security agencies have claimed that Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) had plans to carry out terror attacks on two foreign consulates in India.
Evidence of this was reportedly given by a Sri Lankan national, arrested from Chennai, during his interrogation.
Official sources claimed on Sunday that Sri Lankan national Sakir Hussain told his interrogators that he had been hired by an official in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo to conduct reconnaissance of the US consulate in Chennai and the Israeli consulate in Bangalore.
Bangalore Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar told Express, “I don’t want to reveal any information about additional security to the Israeli Consulate.” Ziv Shalvi, Israeli consulate spokesperson, said the consulate is always on constant alert. He refused to reveal any more information, saying it is an internal security matter. Hussain was arrested on April 29 in a coordinated operation involving various countries, including a South-east Asian nation.
He is reported to have told his interrogators that Pakistan’s spy agency was planning to send two men from Maldives to Chennai and that he had to arrange for their travel documents and hideouts.
Hussain’s name cropped up during an investigation in a South-east Asian country, which tipped a Central security agency in India about a possible attack on the consulates, the sources said.
An immediate surveillance led the investigators to Hussain, who had been constantly shifting his base in Sri Lanka, prompting the sleuths to seek cooperation of the island nation.
After Hussain’s arrival in Chennai, he was picked up and interrogated, during which, he spoke about a possible terror strike on the two consulates, the sources said.
During interrogation, Hussain reportedly took the name of Amir Zubair Siddiq, who is Counsellor (Visa) at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, as his alleged handler, and also said he had been chosen as he was engaged in human trafficking, making of forged passports and smuggling of fake Indian currency. The sleuths recovered pictures of the US and Israeli consulates showing various gates and roads leading to the two premises, the sources said, and claimed that these pictures had been mailed to his alleged handlers in Pakistan and its High Commission in Colombo.
Cyber signatures showed that the pictures were downloaded on a computer within the premises of the Pakistan High Commission at Colombo and the same had been shared with Sri Lankan authorities, the sources claimed.
Muhammad Daud Ehtisham, Press Attache, High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, has dismissed as speculative in nature the charge of ISI’s alleged involvement in any attack plans.
Observing that this seemed to be a “malicious media campaign”, Ehtisham has been quoted as having said that Pakistan and its state institutions are responsible entities and do not indulge in such activities.
The sources claimed that a proper sketch prepared about the roads leading to the two consulates were also uploaded and emailed in Portable Document Format (PDF). Sri Lankan authorities are carrying out a probe at their end to fill in the gaps in the investigations being carried out by India, besides corroborating Hussain’s version.
Siddiq is not a new name for intelligence agencies as he figured earlier as well in 2012-13 when central security agencies picked up one Tameem Ansari, a frequent flier from Trichy to Colombo. Ansari was arrested after six months of surveillance in 2012.
Ansari, a small trader who sent, among other things, potatoes and onions to Sri Lanka, was in touch with Haji, a Tamil-speaking Muslim from Colombo.
Since Ansari’s business was not doing well, Haji allegedly introduced him to Siddiq in the Pakistan mission in Colombo, and his second in command, Shaji.
After reportedly brainwashing him, Siddiq roped him to take videos of the Nagapattinam port, the ships that berthed there, the topography and other dimensions as well as Mallipattinam, traditionally a landing point.
The sources said the apparent strategy being followed by the ISI was to rope in Muslims from Sri Lanka for executing their plans to give credibility to the deniability factor that it was not involved in any way.
(ENS & Agencies)