A request would be sent to the US to seek details from a service provider of “virtual SIMs” which were used by the JeM suicide bomber behind the Pulwama attack and his Pakistan and Kashmir-based handlers, officials said. “Piecing together probe from the site of the militant strike, searches carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir police and central security agencies at an encounter site in Tral as well as other locations, it was found that the bomber, Adil Dar, was in constant touch with the JeM across the border,” they said.
On February 14, at least 42 CRPF personnel were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 30 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district that also left many critically wounded.
More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir. India retaliated after the strike by bombing the Jaish group’s hideout in Balakot across the Line of Control.
It was a fairly new modus operandi where militants across the border were using a “virtual SIM”, generated by a service provider in the United States. In this technology, the computer generates a telephone number and the user downloads an application of the service provider on their smartphone.
The number is linked to social networking sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram or Twitter. The verification code generated by these networking sites is received on the smartphone and the user is ready.
In case of Pulwama, Dar was in constant touch with the Jaish handler as well as Mudassir Khan using the same technology, the officials said.
They said the numbers used were pre-fixed with “+1”, the Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN) number used for the United States.
The request to the US will include details of phone numbers that got in touch with the “Virtual SIM” and who had activated it, they said, adding that Internet Protocol addresses would also be sought.