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Pulwama terror attack case: Terror selfies, WhatsApp chats and mobile phone videos helped NIA nail Jaish conspiracy

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Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday filed a 13500-page chargesheet accusing 19 terrorists of the Pulwama terror attack that had claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans on February 14, last year. The chargesheet names Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar as the mastermind of the terror attack along with his two brothers – Rauf Azghar and Maulana Mohammed Ammar.

The chargesheet was filed by SP NIA Rakesh Balwal in the special court in Jammu on Tuesday.

The NIA case rests largely on the evidence collected from Mohammed Umar Farooq. Masood Azhar’s nephew and IC-814 hijacker Ibrahim Azhar’s son Mohammed Umar Farooq was one of the key conspirators of the Pulwama attack. Both Umar Farooq and IED expert Kamran were gunned down on March 29 last year.

Mohammed Umar Farooq, one of the key conspirators of the Pulwama attack, had trained in Afghanistan from 2016-2018 and had first infiltrated in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018.

The Jaish conspiracy unfolded soon after the recovery of his phone from the encounter site by Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP). The recovery of the phone became a major turning point, bringing to table a plethora of evidence.

When the NIA took over the case, the agency sent the phone to a forensics team, which was able to dig out several photos, WhatsApp chats and mobile videos proving JeM’s involvement in the terror attack on the Indian paramilitary forces.

In the run-up to Pulwama attack, Umar Farooq had clicked several pictures, from selfies to infiltration point in Samba. He had also sent umpteen photos of the execution of terror IED to a Pakistani WhatsApp number.

In one picture, there are remnants of silvery grey IED splattered on smiling faces. The NIA says that the picture was taken on February 5, 2019, and shows Umar Farooq (left) with Sameer Dar (middle) and Adil Ahmed Dar (suicide bomber) assembling the IED. On the 6th morning, they fitted the blue Maruti car with the 200 kg drums of IED.

The investigation agency said that the terrorists were ready to first strike on the CRPF convoy on February 6, 2019, but snowfall had led to the closure of the highway and delayed their plan. Call recordings and Whatsapp chats, with pictures of explosives including RDX being taken, have been recovered from the phone and have provided concrete evidence.

An officer expressed shock that terrorists were not using a coded language for their terror plots as they had been emboldened by the WhatsApp chat’s encryption feature.

Besides mobile footage shot by terrorists themselves, the NIA also found footprints of infiltrating groups bringing RDX with them from the international border in the Jammu sector. The rest of the IED was assembled and procured locally from Kashmir Valley. A WhatsApp message was sent to Jaish commanders informing them that the explosive had crossed safely into Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA chargesheet also says the Jaish planned a second attack similar to Pulwama but was aborted after Masoods directions in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrikes.

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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