Kashif Jan, the handler of Pathankot airbase attackers and a top Jaish-e-Mohammad operative, had masterminded attacks on a police station in Kathua and an army camp in Samba of Jammu and Kashmir on March 20 and 21 last year.
The revelation came following the scrutiny of his Facebook chats that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to submit as part of its soon-to-be filed chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase attack.
Besides Jan, the NIA will press charges against Jaish chief Masood Azhar, his brother Rauf Asghar, another handler Shahid Latif and the four dead attackers.
In Facebook chats with Jaish operatives on March 20 and 21, 2015, Jan admitted to planning the attacks in Kathua and Samba the same day and named the four who attacked Kathua and Samba, saying they were ‘Mujahideen’, sources said.
Five persons were killed in an early morning attack on a police station in Kathua while three Army men were injured in the Samba attack. The NIA teams had visited Kathua and Samba during its probe into the Pathankot airbase attack.
“The NIA managed to procure the chats from Facebook through formal legal assistance from the US authorities,” a home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The agency managed to crack Jan’s Facebook account as it was linked with a mobile number (+923453030479) on which the four Pathankot attackers frequently called before and during the attack for guidance.
A review of the chats also showed that on January 2, while the operation to neutralise to the terrorists at Pathankot was on, a Facebook user in Pakistan named Ahmed Zarquari uploaded the photo of Nasir, one of the attackers who entered the airbase.
Till then no one in India had a clue about the real names of attackers.
Jan immediately sent a message through Facebook chat to Zarquari to delete the photo. But Zarquari told Jan that he had merely shared the photo, which was originally uploaded by another Facebook user by the name of Waseem. Following instructions from Jan, both Zarquari and Waseem deleted Nasir’s photo.
In another chat on January 2, a Facebook profile named Hamja Mehmood Shakir asked Jan whether the attack had ended as claimed by an Indian news channel, to which the handler replied in the negative.
Later, another user named Mohammad Zia asked for an update on Pathankot and Jan told him it was over.
A Facebook profile named Martyr Saddi Shah then asked Jan about the damage to the airbase while another user, Mohammad Ashir congratulated Jan on the attack.
Records showed that Jan’s mobile number was registered with the Facebook account on October 30, 2012 and the account was deactivated on January 5, 2016—immediately after the Pathankot attack was over.