Ilyas Kashmiri, considered one of the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, was behind the assassination of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti earlier this year, according to a media report on Tuesday.
Kashmiri's group planned to kill Bhatti with the help of Asmatullah Muwaia, the self-proclaimed leader of the Punjabi Taliban, according to a report prepared by the Interior Ministry on the basis of findings of a joint investigation team that probed the murder.
"(The plan) was executed by elements of Tehreek-i-Islami, coupled with the disgruntled lot of Ghazi Force stationed at Islamabad," The Express Tribune quoted the report as saying.
Terrorists Umar-ul-Bashar and Ameer Mawia of Faisalabad and Abu Saeed and Tahir-ul-Hassan of Islamabad had executed the plan, the report alleged. They carried out the assassination on the directions of terrorist Khilji of Ameer-i-Taliban. Efforts to identify the others involved in the assassination are ongoing, it said.
Bhatti was gunned down near his residence in Islamabad on March 2. The banned Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the killing.
Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami commander Ilyas Kashmiri was reportedly killed in a recent United States drone attack.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed he has confirmation of Kashmiri's death but US officials have said they have not come across any clinching evidence regarding the dreaded militant commander's killing.
The report on Bhatti's assassination further said that a man calling himself Shabbir Haidri informed legislator Chaudhry Tahir Naveed on telephone about the plan to kill the federal minister. The joint investigation team learnt that the real name of Umar-ul-Bashar was Abid Malik and he lived at Nai Abadi in Faisalabad.
Abu Saeed's real name was Qari Zia-ur-Rehman and he too belonged to Faisalabad. Both men fled from Karachi to Dubai via Sri Lanka. The team also found out that the real name of Shabbir Haidri is Nazar Muhammad, a resident of Narowal district of Punjab province who was temporarily living at Akhtar Colony in Karachi.
Haidri was apprehended in Karachi and brought to Islamabad on April 24 for interrogation. Minister of State for Minority Affairs Akram Masih Gill has demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate his predecessor Bhattis murder. The demand was made at a time when Islamabad Police are considering a move to close the case 'for want of evidence'.