The documents handed over by the United States to India in connection with the probe into the plot to carry out terror strikes on American and Israeli consulates in the South have established communication between Sakir Hussain, undergoing jail term in the case, and 'Shahjee', a Pakistani national introduced to the accused allegedly by a Pakistani diplomat working in Colombo.
The national Investigation Agency, which has carried out the probe into the conspiracy meticulously, had sent a request under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to the US for details from service provider whose email was being used by Hussain to communicate to his handler in Sri Lanka.
Hussain, who pleaded guilty and is at present undergoing jail term in India, was arrested in April last year by sleuths of Intelligence Bureau with Tamil Nadu police while doing
reconnaissance of the US consulate in Chennai and Israeli consulate in Bengaluru to facilitate a terror strike similar to 26/11.
For this, two terrorists were to be flown in from Maldives. Hussain had named Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was working as Visa Counsellor at Pakistan high commission based in Colombo till some time back but had to be repatriated to Islamabad after India mounted pressure on Sri Lanka about his alleged activities targeting this country.
Pakistan, however, maintains that he was shifted after completing his tenure in Colombo. During his questioning, Hussain had named one ‘Shahjee’ who was introduced to him by Siddiqui and all the meetings took place in hotels at Colombo.
The accused told the investigators that ‘Shahjee’ was described as second-in-command to the Visa Counsellor. The response provided by US authorities following the
request under the MLAT showed that the account was being operated by ‘Shahjee’ who had provided the name while registering with the email account, official sources said.
There have been email communications with some email addresses in Pakistan and even personal account of Siddiqui, the sources said. The email account is also alleged to have been operated under the internet protocol address of the Pakistan high commission in Colombo, the sources claimed.
Late last year, the name of ‘Shahjee’ again surfaced after the NIA arrested Arun Selvarajan in Chennai and allegedly recovered some incriminating documents including layout plans of country's defence establishment like the Coast Guards complex.
During preliminary interrogation before being sent to judicial custody, Selvarajan, who is also wanted in Sri Lanka for allegedly supporting banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terror group, told the officials that he had supplied information about some
strategic locations to the Inter-Services Intelligence handlers based in Colombo who were allegedly operating from the Pakistan high commission, the sources said.
Selvarajan again named Siddiqui and ‘Shahjee’ as his handler and said that his business had been in shambles when he was approached by the two Pakistani officials for allegedly carrying out espionage activities in India, the sources said.
Siddiqui and ‘Shahjee’ were not new names for the Intelligence Bureau as they had cropped up earlier in 2012-13 when security agencies picked up one Tameem Ansari, a frequent flier from Trichy to Colombo.
Ansari was arrested after six months of surveillance in 2012. India has already sent its request under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in this case to Sri Lankan authorities last year to help in questioning and gathering evidence from the Island nation.
Ansari was a small trader who sent, among other things, potatoes and onions to Sri Lanka. After reverses in business, Ansai came in touch with Haji, a Tamil-speaking Muslim from Colombo who is alleged to have introduced him to Siddiqui in the Pakistan mission in Colombo, and ‘Shahjee’.