Mastermind of 2016 Pathankot Terror Attack: Who Was Shahid Lateef and Who Killed Him in Pakistan?

 On October 11, Wednesday, news broke that Shahid Lateef, the alleged mastermind behind the notorious 2016 Pathankot Airforce Station terrorist attack in India, was assassinated inside a mosque in Daska, located in Pakistan’s Sialkot district. His assassination was carried out by unidentified attackers. This incident follows closely on the heels of the assassination of Mufti Qaiser Farooq, a close aide to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, earlier in October in Karachi.

Profile: Shahid Lateef

In the aftermath of the 2016 Pathankot terrorist attack, the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) quickly constituted a specialized team to probe the involvement of the Pakistan-based extremist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Collaborating with the Jammu and Kashmir Police, they worked diligently to unveil the brains behind the attack.

The evidence traced back to Shahid Lateef, who was in his early 40s at the time. He emerged as the chief strategist of the assault and had been acknowledged as one of the paramount leaders of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). A JeM commander, Lateef was known for his activity in the border regions, meticulously recruiting young impressionable boys to execute terror operations on Indian soil.

Digging Deeper: Shahid Lateef’s History

Shahid Lateef’s engagement with terror activities is not a recent phenomenon. His criminal record dates back to 1994 when he was apprehended in Jammu following the Hazrat Bal shrine terror attack in Srinagar. His involvement wasn’t limited to direct acts of terrorism; he was deeply entrenched in the narcotics trade, a venture he utilized to finance extremist endeavors.

Following his arrest, a two-year trial in 1996 led to his conviction. Owing to high militancy levels in the Kashmir Valley at that juncture, he was incarcerated in a Varanasi prison. Remarkably, in 2010, after serving a 16-year sentence under the Terrorist Activities Disruption Act (TADA), Lateef was deported to Pakistan. This act was executed by the UPA-II government, led by then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as a gesture of goodwill. Lateef was deported through the Wagah-Attari border along with 20 other prisoners.

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The assassination of such a high-profile terrorist in Pakistan underscores the intricate dynamics of the region and raises questions about the future of extremist activities in the area. The ongoing investigations and developments following this incident will be closely watched by nations across the globe.

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