Five terrorists nabbed, Mumbai was next terror target: police


Mumbai: Five suspected activists of the shadow terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM) were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Ahmedabad and Delhi serial blasts. Police said the group is controlled by a high-ranking functionary based in Pakistan and had planned to carry out serial bombings in Mumbai next.

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POlice said the group is linked to all the bomb blasts carried out in major Indian cities since 2005, including the July 11, 2006, serial blasts aboard Mumbai’s suburban trains.

A large cache of explosives was recovered from the five men, who were nabbed from “in and around Mumbai”.

The Indian Mujahideen group, which includes the elusive Tauqeer, Aftab Ansari and others, is controlled by one Aamir Reza, a high-ranking functionary controlling both the LeT and HuJi, from his hideout in “a hostile country”, Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor said here Wednesday.

Gafoor told a jam packed media gathering in the evening that the five suspects are mostly in their 30s, belong to Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh – where other suspected terrorists linked to the recent bombings also belong – and are highly educated individuals who used their academic expertise for their terror activities.

The men were identified as Afzal Mutalib Usmani (32), Mohammed Sadik Shaikh (31), Mohammed Zakir Shaikh (28), Mohammed Ansar Shaikh (31) and Mohammed Arif Shaikh (38).

“All the men have been trained in a ‘hostile foreign country’ for prolonged periods in different aspects of terrorist acts like bomb-making, triggering blasts, etc,” Gafoor said.

At least one more terrorist, Roshan Khan, said to be the co-founder of IM, is absconding. The crime branch sleuths are on his trail, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said.

Maria said that the most shocking outcome of the investigations was that the terrorists were linked to practically all the bomb blasts carried out by the group since 2005, pointing to their sheer expertise, deep connections and the vast resources at their command.

They were directly connected with the July 26 serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, had links with the Sep 13 New Delhi serial blasts, as well as the previous July 25 Bangalore blasts and the May 13 Jaipur blasts, as also the July 11, 2006, Mumbai serial train blasts.

Maria said that the five arrested today masqueraded as Pakistanis in the underground terror network, but it has been revealed that they are actually Indians. They have been trained in all aspects of terrorist activities by the LeT during their various trips to a ‘hostile foreign country’, he said.

The police officials studiously refrained from naming the “hostile country”, though the obvious indication is Pakistan.

These sensational arrests have also confirmed that the IM’s email threats to carry out serial blasts in Mumbai was “very real.”

The men were allegedly involved in the theft of vehicles used in the blasts and for providing other logistics support for carrying out the blasts. All the suspects hailed from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.

Afzal was responsible for stealing four vehicles from Mumbai which were used in the Ahmedabad and Surat blasts.

Sadik, a programming engineer working for a Mumbai electronics company, said to be a high-ranking functionery of IM, has trained in a ‘hostile foreign country’ on two occasions, first for nine months and later 45 days. He was nabbed from Cheetah Camp, Trombay, a northeastern suburb of Mumbai.

Arif, nabbed from Mumbra town of Thane district, is a qualified electrician and an expert in making electrical circuits for bombs.

“He has been involved in the making of bombs for practically every bomb blast around the country since 2005,” said Maria.

Zakir, caught from Bhiwandi town of Thane district, has a scrap business in Surat and was connected with the July blasts in the diamond city. He had acquired training in a ‘hostile foreign country’ in 2004, according to Maria.

A software engineer, Ansar, nabbed from Cheetah Camp, had been trained in the same ‘hostile foreign country’, and worked in close co-operation with Sadik, also highly computer literate.

To a question, Maria replied that the men were also involved in carrying out the July 11, 2006, serial blasts aboard Mumbai’s suburban trains on the Western Railway network.

The police also recovered 10 kg ammonium nitrate and gelatin, used in making explosives, 8 kgs of ball bearings, four live electronic circuits, one submachine gun, two .38 revolvers and 38 live bullets of both these weapons, said Maria.