NIA’s Pathankot probe points to an enemy within
NEW DELHI, Feb 03 (INP): The Indian security agencies’ worst fears could soon come true, with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) intensifying its probe into possible role of an insider element in the Pathankot attack.
A key lead being worked upon is the concertina wire atop the 10-feet boundary wall of the airbase was possibly cut from inside and not outside. This is borne by the position/condition in which the snipped wire was found post-attack, top sources in the security establishment told Times of India.
“The state and placement of the damaged concertina wire is different depending on whether it is cut from outside or from inside.
A look at the wire soon after the attack had aroused suspicion that it were not the terrorists, but possibly a collaborator inside who cut the wire. The fact that the light at the spot was not working only confirms the location was consciously picked by those who had prior knowledge that the area would be dark.
“We are running forensic tests on the concertina wire to scientifically and conclusively establish that it was cut from the inside. The test report can be taken as the first concrete indication of an insider role in the Pathankot attack,” said a source following the probe.
Sources in the NIA said “massive work” was on to establish whether any insider had facilitated infiltration of the terrorists prior to the attack; if a recce was done of the route taken by the terrorists to reach the airbase; and if individuals within the airbase had facilitated the terrorists’ entry. Towards this end, the NIA is sifting through records of calls made from/to the airbase. Also, those keeping watch on the outer periphery on the day of the attack or just prior to it, as well as airbase residents are being questioned to recall any suspicious movements near the point from where the terrorists entered the airbase.
There are also other leads that point to the role of elements inside the airbase in facilitating the terrorists. First, the spot from where the terrorists crossed the outer periphery of the airbase was next to a firing range.
“There is a high embankment wall made out of earth, possibly meant to act as a barrier for bullets that ricochet after being fired, just 4-5 feet inside the boundary wall. The terrorists hid in the gap between the raised embankment and the boundary wall. This convenient hiding place ensured that the terrorists were not visible from the nearest post on either side… they remained undetected for almost 22 hours. That the road outside happened to be the only stretch in the airbase — with a total perimeter of 25-26 km — that was un-patrolled helped matters further,” said a source.
The sensitiveness of the location where the terrorists lay in wait can be gauged from the fact that there are family quarters to its left while on the right lies the inner periphery holding vital air assets.
“This is where the NSG along with Special Forces played a crucial part. Their deployment in the afternoon of January 1ensured that the terrorists were contained in a vacant area housing an abandoned military shed, away from the family quarters and air assets, when they were neutralised barely 150-200 yards away,” said an officer of the security establishment.