Pathankot, Jan 5: The National Investigating Agency (NIA), which is probing the Pathankot terror attack, is convinced that there were some elements along the Kathua-Gurdaspur border who helped the terrorists infiltrate.
Going by the initial account, it appears that the terrorists had no problem what so ever entering into India through a border which is considered to have the highest security.
NIA officials tell OneIndia that they are exploring the possibility of a local link behind the attack.
These terrorists from Pakistan were dropped off in batches of two. While a group came in a Range Rover the other lot were dropped off near the border in a Pajero.
How did the terrorists cross over?
How did the terrorists manage to cross over into India? This is a major question before the NIA and unless this is cracked, the probe would remain half baked.
First and foremost there was an alert that had already been sounded since December 25th and the BSF were informed about a possible infiltration.
Despite such specific alerts, how did the terrorists manage to slip in? Was there a familiar face at the border waiting to receive the terrorists?
[Pakistan working on "leads" provided by India on Pathankot attack: Foreign Office]
NIA officials say that there is a lot of smuggling activity along this border and some security forces are familiar with such activities and may have let these men enter mistaking them for smugglers and not terrorists.
The role of smugglers can never be ruled out in such cases. During the probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attack, a commission of inquiry had learnt that there was a diesel smuggler at Machimarnagar who had helped the ten terrorists seek cover until they were ready to attack.
"We are not ruling out a similar possibility in the Pathankot terror attack as well," NIA officials said.[Timeline of Pathankot terror attack]
Several terrorist groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) are known to use the services of smugglers to be part of a sleeper cell.
These sleeper cells are activated ahead of an attack and more often than not there are smugglers who are close to security personnel who are part of the network.