In a major breakthrough, spy agencies have traced the man who had masterminded the abduction of an American aid expert from an upscale neighbourhood of Lahore earlier this month.
Up to eight assailants abducted Dr Warren Weinstein, the country director for JE Austin Associates Inc, in a pre-dawn raid on his house in Model Town on August 13.
Intelligence sources told The Express Tribune that they are closing in on the mastermind who belongs to an outlawed extremist organisation. They said that other accomplices of the man are being tracked down with the help of mobile phone data records. However, they admitted that they haven’t got a clue as yet.
Police have detained five guards of Weinstein, his driver, a university student and two more people for questioning. One of them – Shaukat – is said to be prayer leader at Abu Huraira mosque sited on Sialkot Road. Some of the suspects belong to Basti Qudratabad area, in Gujranwala district, sources said.
Police and intelligence agencies are also checking different medical stores/pharmacies to find out if someone had bought medicines used by Weinstein. Sources familiar with the matter said that police and spy agencies are also conducting raids in different neighbourhoods of Lahore to arrest the culprits.
Meanwhile the Lahore police chief said that Weinstein would be recovered ‘soon’. “He (Weinstein) has not been taken out of Pakistan,” Ahmed Raza Tahir told the media. “We will soon recover him.”
JE Austin Associates Inc, is an Arlington, Va-based consulting firm and has been working on a development project in the lawless tribal areas where troops have been battling insurgents for years.
(With additional input from Reuters)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2011.