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Fai’s ISI handlers easier to catch

world Updated: Jul 24, 2011 02:33 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai’s handlers at Pakistan’s ISI were not half as careful as those who ran David Headley. They needn’t have been presumably, given that their work was not violent or even strictly illegal.

Fai was only a lobbyist who pushed an anti-India line on Kashmir, as laid out by his handlers. Headley was a killer who prepared the ground for the 2008 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack that saw 160 people killed.

Fai’s ISI handlers possibly never felt the need for cover as, former Pakistan president Parvez Musharraf said, they viewed lobbying a legitimate exercise in the US. And hawala payments to Fai were a minor transgression.

The FBI thus has identified them by their real name, their real address, and real affiliation. Headley’s handlers were known only by single word codenames. No one knows, for instance, who is the shadowy Major Iqbal, who guided Headley through his trips to Mumbai.

While prosecution is unlikely, if a US court ask Fai’s ISI handlers to appear before the bench it knows exactly who they are. The FBI named Fai’s ISI handlers as Abdullah (a nickname), Javeed Aziz Khan (who went by aliases Abdullah, Rathore and Nizami Mir), Touqeer Mehmood Butt and Sohail Mahmood (also called Mir).

Abdullah was Brigadier Abdullah, who the FBI found out through “open source information” as a Brigadier Abdullah, the ISI’s head of Kashmir affairs.

Khan was even easier. When he applied for US visa, he listed a home phone number that matched a number that Fai used. He was thus identified as Javeed Mir Khan, email id — javeed_aziz@hotmail.com , employed by Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence. Lt Colonel Touqeer Butt, who twice attended Fai-sponsored conferences, had listed “Pakistani ministry of defence, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)” his employer in the visa application.