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‘Anthrax letters’ probe hits brick wall as CCTV cams near post boxes found faulty

CTD team updates IHC, SC registrars' on progress of investigation, expands scope of probe using alternative means

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
April 04, 2024
The entrance of the Islamabad High Court premises. —APP/File
The entrance of the Islamabad High Court premises. —APP/File

The ongoing investigation into suspected anthrax-laced letters sent to judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Supreme Court has hit a brick wall after investigators discovered that the majority of CCTV cameras surrounding the post boxes in which the envelopes were likely deposited were non-functional, it was revealed on Thursday.

On March 3, just a day after the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu notice over the allegations of six IHC judges against intelligence agencies, the IHC chief justice among eight judges received suspected letters.

The CTD team is racing against time to collect facts and ascertain the chemical nature of the powdery substance after the eight IHC judges received “letters containing suspected anthrax powder along with a threatening message”.

According to sources, the case of suspicious letters is being investigated by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Islamabad police and a report on the progress made so far has been communicated to the Registrars of the Supreme Court and the IHC.

Sources indicate that an examination of post boxes located within Satellite Town, Rawalpindi, is ongoing, with many CCTV cameras surrounding the post boxes found to be inoperative.

Islamabad police have expanded the scope of the investigation using alternative means, including questioning individuals working in shops and offices in the area of post boxes. Furthermore, all staff at the Satellite Town, Rawalpindi post office have been included in the inspection.

According to sources, the letters were sent by a woman named Resham without mentioning her address. They added that a staffer of a judge accidentally dropped the envelope containing the suspicious powdery substance and later felt extreme irritation in their eyes and burns on the skin around his lips.

Following the incident, Islamabad Inspector General (IG) and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) police were summoned to the IHC. All the suspicious letters were handed over to the police for further investigation.

It is noteworthy that initially, eight judges of the Islamabad High Court received suspicious letter, later judges of the Lahore High Court and even judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan also got similar mail.