Official sources claimed on Sunday that Sakir Hussain, a Sri Lankan national, told his interrogators that he had been hired allegedly by an official in Pakistani high commission in Colombo as part of the ISI’s alleged plans to conduct reconnaissance of US consulate in Chennai and Israeli consulate in Bengaluru.
Hussain was arrested on April 29 in a coordinated operation involving various countries including a southeast Asian nation.
He is reported to have told the 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 southeast Asian country which tipped a central security agency in India about possible attack on US and Israeli consulates, the sources said.
An immediate surveillance led the investigators to Husain who had been constantly shifting his base in neighbouring Sri Lanka prompting the sleuths to seek cooperation of the island nation, the sources said.
After Hussain’s arrival in Chennai, he was picked up and subjected to sustained interrogation during which, the sources claimed, he spoke about a possible terror strike on the two consulates.
During interrogation, Hussain reportedly took the name of Amir Zubair Siddiq, who is counsellor (visa) at 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 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 at a computer within the premises of 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 were carrying out a probe at its end to fill in the gaps in the investigations being carried out by India besides corroborating the version of Hussain.
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 Inter-Services Intelligence (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.