Calls from Pathankot: Digital trail leads to Pakistan

The Indian Express used publicly available online resources to verify the phone numbers, locate Facebook accounts they were linked to, and identify their service providers.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2016 11:25 am
pathankot attack, evidence of pathankot, pathankot investigation Pathankot attack: The Facebook profile of Saad Mughal, whose number was among the five dialled by the terrorists.

Five phone numbers called by the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot airbase last week track back to individuals whose Facebook pages identify them as residents of Pakistan. In one case, an individual had posted images of armed Jaish-e-Muhammad operatives; another number was one used in advertisements for its charitable front, al-Rahmat.

The Indian Express used publicly available online resources to verify the phone numbers, locate Facebook accounts they were linked to, and identify their service providers.

Watch video Pathankot Attack: The Rise Of Jaish-e-Muhammad

Indian investigators recorded only three snippets of conversation, one by a terrorist using the single name ‘Nasir’, who spoke for several minutes with his mother and brother. The other Pakistan numbers were found by investigators as they studied the two carjacking victims’ mobile phone records.

The five numbers were called by the attackers using phones taken from slain taxi driver Ikagar Singh, and jeweller Rajesh Verma, friend of Punjab SP Salwinder Singh.

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Earlier this week, Pakistani media reported that investigators in that country had said the numbers were “not registered”, suggesting that they did not exist. All Pakistani mobile phone SIM cards are sold only after biometric data is provided by their users.

The numbers were conveyed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, highly-placed government sources said, to his counterpart Lt General (retd) Nasir Janjua earlier this week.

The first among the five numbers is identified by Truecaller as belonging to an individual called “Saad” — Truecaller harvests data from users’ address books, and uses them to build a database of information that helps reliably identify calls from unknown numbers.

The number, operated by cellphone company Mobilink, was also linked to a Facebook account operated by Saad Mughal, a resident of Sahiwal in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Mughal’s Facebook page identifies him as a one-time student of the Government High School in Arifawala. He describes himself as working at “Islam”.

Incidentally, Mughal’s Facebook profile picture is of the Jaish-e-Muhammad’s chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, an internationally-proscribed terrorist wanted, among other things, for the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in 1999, and the 2001 attack on Parliament House in New Delhi.

Mughal’s Facebook page also contains several photographs of armed individuals who appear to be jihadists operating in Kashmir, safehouses equipped with weapons, and propaganda posters vowing war on India.

The second number is identified by Truecaller as belonging to an individual using the name “Kashif”, and is operated by Telenor. The same number was used by an individual named Kashif Jan to operate a Facebook page. The page identifies Kashif as a former student of the University of Karachi, and states he was born on January 30, 1982.

Kashif’s Facebook page lists Mughal as one of his contacts and also contains propaganda material for Islamist causes, notably a campaign to free Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

Watch Video: How Wires Got Crossed in Delhi

Mughal is also connected, though Facebook, to a third individual called by the terrorists. The number, provided by Warid Telecom, is identified by Truecaller as belonging to “Molana”, a possible typographical error for Maulana.

The number links to a Facebook page operated by Usman Sarwar, who claims to be a former student of the Lahore University of Management Sciences and Lawrence College, Murree, and says he works full time at “Dawah (proselytisation) calling to Allah”.

Sarwar, incidentally, is linked to both Kashif and Saad Mughal through several common friends-and also hails lives in Sahiwal.

In one case, there is an explicit connection with the Jaish. Truecaller identifies the user as “Jashe Islam”, a possible misspelling of Jaish-e-Islam, or army of Islam. The number appears in advertisements that have appeared several times in Jaish-related publications, as well as the website, asking for contributions for the jihadist group’s charitable front, al-Rahmat.

Ever since 2010, al-Rahmat has solicited contributions to an account at the National Bank’s Satellite Town branch in Bahawalpur, held by a Ghulam Murtaza. In advertisements, the trust — sanctioned by the United States, United Arab Emirates and other countries — has said it provides funds for jihad veterans and religious causes.

The fifth number identified in Truecaller records as “The Truth is Out There”. Each of the five numbers now appears to be switched off, or out of service.

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  1. A
    Jan 13, 2016 at 4:53 am
    "Saad's social networking page mentions he works for "Islam" " . What it means is he is a follower of a pedophile mad dog named mohammad and all set to bite everyone . only antidote is to shoot them at point blank, so that they can enjoy 72 "piglet" virgins and can take a "holy" bath and so called wuzzu in honey and milk.
    1. K
      Jan 12, 2016 at 10:25 pm
      The crouching, dokhla-eating Gujjubhai whose chin touches his chest, and his equally uneducated cabinet colleagues are letting down India very badly. They have no education. They have no abilities to prevent the free-fall of India's economy. In the past India was fortunate to have such genius economists as Mr Manmohan Singh. But the 31% of the voters who brought the dokhla-bhai to power have created a huge problem for India. India must prepare itself for the next Lok Sabha elections. Send the selfie-chaser Gujjubhai back to selling chai and dokhla at the railway stations. India must get ready to welcome Mr Nitish Kumar as the next PM. Mr Nitish Kumar has cl and substance. The crouching, dokhla-eating Gujjubhai whose chin touches his chest, is only good to run after the goras for selfies, and provide photoshopped black to pink images of himself to the media. Is is purely disgusting. Even the political leaders of Nepal and Maldives are too dignified to run after the goras for selfies.
      1. d
        Jan 12, 2016 at 11:06 pm
        This kind of nonsense has gone on for 70 years. What has India learnt so far, we trust stan, funny. Has the time come to wake up.
        1. S
          Sagar Tanksali
          Jan 13, 2016 at 4:02 am
          Quite clearly you've been bitten by rabid dokhlas.
          1. K
            Kay Gee
            Jan 13, 2016 at 5:22 am
            When pak say no evidence, there is no evidence. Why are you wasting time ?
            1. P
              Jan 13, 2016 at 5:21 am
              Pak defames Muslims all over the world. Muslims all over the world need to call for decimation and liquidation of all musharrafs, kayanis, now shariefs from Pak to prevent collateral damage to other peace loving s.
              1. S
                Jan 18, 2016 at 4:37 am
                same word returned for all your spiritual and religious high ups. we can use even ugliest words but our prophet (MAPBUH) has not taught us so
              2. S
                Jan 13, 2016 at 4:51 am
                India thinks stan will learn its lessons and behave. That is very optimistic and probably stan will do after 10-20 years. However, India has to learn its lessons and make sure that these attacks are nipped in the bud. The response was so horribly and laughably disorganized.
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