Monday, July 31, 2006

Cops link ‘LeT boss’ to arms haul suspects

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The police have found a link between suspects in the recent Aurangabad arms haul case and Faisal Shaikh, who has been accused by the cops of being the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander for western India. Faisal was recently arrested during investigations into the 7/11 blasts.

Interrogators said that Faisal sent Fayyaz Kagzi and Zabihuddin Ansari, alias Zaby, to Pakistan for training. Kagzi and Ansari, along with Rahil Shaikh, are absconding accused in the arms haul case.


Though the police have so far not found any evidence to link
Ansari, Kagzi and Rahil to the 7/11 blasts, they insisted that all three were in touch with Faisal before fleeing the country. Ansari reportedly reached Bangladesh from where he fled to Pakistan on June 25, while Rahil is said to be in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

On May 9, the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had intercepted a Tata Sumo near Aurangabad and arrested three men—Ameer Shaikh, Muzaffar Tanvir and Sayyed Zuber—and seized 13kg of RDX, 10 AK-47s and 1,000 live cartridges. The trio told police that they had been given the consignment by Ansari, a resident of Beed district who escaped from the spot.


The interrogation of over 30 detainees in the 7/11 case revealed that Faisal had sent Ansari and Kagzi to Pakistan via Iran for training. “Faisal, who was in charge of LeT operations in western India told us that he had sent Kagzi to Pakistan via Iran this year on the recommendation of Rahil Shaikh,’’ said an officer who interrogated Faisal. Rahil had also recommended Ansari and two other youth presently jailed in New Delhi, and Faisal had subsequently sent them to Pakistan, a crime branch officer said.


Faisal would get at least Rs 50,000 per month through the hawala route to operate in India, police said. Sources said that Rahil would do the recruiting and Faisal would send the recruits for training. Rahil himself could not go for training to Pakistan since the police had refused him a no-objection certificate for a passport as several cases were registered against him. Jammu and Kashmir resident Mujaheed Geelani, who surrendered to Pune police on Thursday,
is likely to be arrested in the blasts case soon, an ATS officer said.

Investigations into the blasts have entered various walks of life. Police said that the Mahim-based brothers of Feroz Ghaswala, an accused in a Delhi blast case, have said that Ghaswala had become a “rebel’’ and they had installed a caller ID at home to track his incoming and outgoing calls. But he disconnected the facility.


Others being interrogated include a BPO employee, a Mahimbased lecturer, a north Mumbai cyber cafe owner and a publication house employee who was part of a media delegation that visited Iran earlier this year. Police said the BPO detainee had been offered a trip to Pakistan by Faisal, but had refused under “family pressure’’.


Bombers may be holed up in north India

Mumbai: The police have dug up clues to the identities of the terrorists who planted the 7/11 bombs and have sent a team to north India to track the men down, according to an anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officer.

Though several people with alleged terror links have been arrested in connection with the blasts, those who actually planted the explosives in the trains are still at large. A police officer told TOI that the planters of the bombs are believed to have fled to north India. “We have clues, but we cannot divulge them now,’’ he said.


ATS officers claimed they got clues after interrogating Dr Tanvir Ansari, suspected to be the key “motivator’’ of Lashkare-Taiba’s (LeT) Mumbai module and Faisal Shaikh, alleged to be the western India LeT commander. It has also been learnt that ATS officers have prepared sketches of at least three suspects with the help of eyewitness accounts. However, the men in the sketches may not be the bomb planters.


There were reports earlier that the bombers may have fled to Bangladesh, but a police officer denied this saying they were still in India.


“Some commuters claimed they saw the terrorists in the compartment and outside Churchgate station. Sketches have been prepared based on descriptions provided,’’ a police officer said. The police have reportedly circulated the sketches to other agencies, including the Special Task Force in UP.


The police claim they have busted one module involved in the blasts which provided logistical support. Two other modules comprising the bomb manufacturers and planters are yet to be traced.

The Times of India, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mira Rd Urdu publisher in terror law net



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Saturday arrested Ehtesham Siddiqui, a publisher of religious texts, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged association with the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

However, officials hinted that Siddiqui, the first to be arrested under UAPA since Terror Tuesday, might not have anything to do with the blasts that killed around 200 and hurt 700 others. Incidentally, UAPA is the last remaining anti-terror law in India.


The eight others arrested have been accused of direct or indirect involvement in 7/11 but have been slapped only with IPC charges, making it possible for them to get bail if officials fail to file the chargesheet within 90 days. Faisal Shaikh, who the police say is “the western India Lashkar-e-Taiba commander’’, has also escaped the tough UAPA clauses.

Siddiqui, owner of Shahada Publishing House, was picked up from his residence and booked under sections 10 and 13 of the UAPA for being a member of an unlawful association and being involved in unlawful activities.

The police claimed to have seized “jehadi literature’’ from his residence. Among the items found were 400 copies of Jihad Fi Sabilillah (Crusade in the name of Allah), 110 copies of Jihadi Azkaar (Tales of crusaders) and 250 books of Jihad Fi Sabil Allah Kyun? (Why crusade in the name of Allah?).

‘Books with suspect were sold in market’
Mumbai: Although police officials claim the literature found at the residence of Ehtesham Siddiqui, a publisher of religious texts who has been arrested for his SIMI links, is objectionable, the issue is not beyond debate.


TOI visited several book stalls on Mohammad Ali Road and Bhendi Bazaar on Saturday and spoke to shopkeepers selling books published by Shahada Publishing House. “Several other publications also publish books on similar topics and they are sold in the open market,’’ a
bookseller said.

Other books published by Siddiqui include Dosti Aur Dushmani, Wafadari Aur Bezaari, Alamaat-e-Qayamat (Signs of doomsday) and Jahannum Aur Ahle Jahannum (Hell and those who are destined for hell).

Officials, however, insisted that the literature they had seized was objectionable. ATS additional commissioner of police Jai Jeet Singh said, “The literature was objectionable and therefore we seized it.’’

Officials also alleged that Siddiqui was associated with arrested unani physician Tanvir Ansari. Besides, they pointed out that Siddiqui had been arrested by the Kurla police in 2001—soon after SIMI was banned—as he, as then SIMI state joint secretary, was preaching jehad.

Siddiqui’s family shifted to Safiya Manzil in Mira Road two years ago from their Masjid Galli residence. However, neighbours said the family had moved out two days ago after the arrival of policemen.


The Times of India, July 30, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Faisal’s mission: Get info on BSE, BPOs, minister




The sister (left) and sister-in-law of the two arrested brothers, Faisal and Muzammil Shaikh, inside Tirupati Apartments at Mira Road on Friday. (Left) UNRAVELING THE PLOT: The police are clubbing together vital clues in the blast case




Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Anti-national elements from across the border were using Faisal Shaikh to maim the state financially and politically.

Insisting that Faisal was the “key western India operative’’ of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, police officials told TOI on Friday that he was under orders to gather as much information as possible about the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the big business centres, major BPOs and also a Maharashtra minister and a top politician from Gujarat. The information would have been used for major terror strikes, officials added.

Faisal and his brother Muzammil—the latter was picked up from Bangalore where he was working with a top-bracket software firm—were produced in the Mazgaon court on Friday and remanded to police custody until August 9.

Officials also revealed to TOI on Friday that Faisal was the first person they had picked up after the blasts
on July 11. “But we realised how big a catch he was only after others started talking,’’ a senior official said.

Faisal’s family, which lived in Nagpada until 1996, moved to Pune after that, buying a flat in Kondhwa. It was there that Faisal came in touch with Sohail Shaikh, a member of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, who was arrested a few days ago.

Faisal later introduced Sohail to his brother, Muzammil.

Investigators said Faisal spilled the beans on Sohail’s involvement after being picked up but kept mum about Muzammil—it was Sohail who told investigators that Muzammil, too, was very much part of the terror net. All three then sang about Tanvir, who was the first person to be arrested from Mumbai, and the doctor led investigators to Worli resident Zameer Shaikh.

Faisal is an expert at making bombs
Mateen Hafeez and Siddhartha D Kashyap | TNN
Mumbai/Pune: The Mumbai police seem to sniffing out the terror plot bit by bit. “It was a case of verifying and corroborating the statements of all the accused that helped us get an idea of the conspiracy,’’ an investigator said, adding that five to six more LeT operatives were still on the run.

But officials said they were still to establish a link between this module (Faisal and Muzammil Shaikh, Tanvir Ansari, Sohail and Zameer) and the three others arrested (Mumtaz Chaudhri, Kamal Ansari and Khalid Shaikh).

Investigations have revealed that Faisal, who owns a Mira Road flat, also has a rented flat on Perry Cross Road in Bandra (W). That flat could have been used by him and his co-conspirators to hatch the Terror Tuesday plot. Officials are now looking for one of Faisal’s aides, identified as Sajid.


Most instructions to the Faisal-led module could come from Azam Chima, ISI operative and militant trainer at the LeT’s Bahawalpur camp in PoK, the officials said. Faisal, Muzammil and arrested unani physician Tanvir Ansari were trying to recruit more boys
and increase the number of terror sympathisers, they added.

Officials said Faisal was an expert in making bombs and was given the code names of Abu Aamin and Abu Musthaque at the Pakistan terror camp.

“Even in Mumbai, although they knew each other’s real names, they would use the codes whenever they spoke to each other. All of them had mobile phones but would mostly use PCOs,’’ an official said.

The investigation, intelligence officials said, received another fillip with key terror operative Mujaheed Geelani “turning himself in’’ to the police on Friday. The ATS, however, chose to stay silent
on this issue.

Geelani, intelligence officials said, was seen in Pune on the day of the blasts and went underground after that. Geelani, now being interrogated in Mumbai, could provide vital clues, they added.
The Times of India, July 29, 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hunt for suspects in colleges, offices

Terror Tuesday Probe Gaze Shifts To Educated Youth, But Human Rights Remains A Grey Area

Mateen Hafeez I TN
Mumbai: Muzammil Shaikh is not the only white-collar person called in by the cops for “interrogation’’ and arrested as part of the probe into Terror Tuesday. Many of the others, who seem less likely to be arrested, also have white-collar jobs or aspire for one.

Take, for instance, final-year Aurangabad College mechanical engineering student Nadeem Ansari. The Madanpura resident of Kala Pani’s BIT Chawl No. 2 presented himself before Anti-Terrorism Squad officials on Thursday so that they could “record his
statement’’. The ATS warned Ansari’s parents on Wednesday that they would be detained if he did not come down to the city from his Aurangabad hostel within 24 hours. Ansari, who left Aurangabad late on Wednesday night after getting the call, reached Mumbai on Thursday morning and went to the ATS office with his parents and elder brother.

He was asked whether he had any link with the banned SIMI.

The police did not say so but the family felt all the “interrogation’’ had to do with the fact that they were neighbours of physician Jalees Ansari, accused of plotting a few dozen blasts across the country. M H Saboo Siddik Hospital registrar and unani physician Tanvir Ansari has already been arrested by the ATS.

ATS officials said they had a reason for every arrest, interrogation and detention. “Brainwashing is not confined to only madrasas now,’’ a senior official
said. “That is why we, too, are moving out of madrasas and into engineering colleges, hospitals and software offices to look for suspects,’’ he added.

And it’s not only the ATS
that is picking up white-collar youth for interrogation. Shivaji Nagar resident and software programmer Mohammad Akhtar got a call from a crime branch unit. He wants the culprits to be arrested and “punished severely’’ and knows that the police may be only doing its job.

But he does feel “slightly harassed’’, says the youth who earns Rs 6,000 a month and is trying to set up his own business. The only
brush with the law he has had so far is a case of assault when he was in college. Two other boys, both residents of Kala Pani, under the scanner for some years, were picked up on Wednesday for questioning. Both were graduates, officials said. Officials probing 7/11 say the suspected involvement of SIMI has forced them to look for suspects in the educated class. “Almost everyone in the SIMI think-tank was a graduate,’’ one of them explained.

“So it is natural a large number of SIMI people we are picking up for interrogation will
be educated youth established in life,’’ the official added.
(Names of persons picked up for interrogation have been changed.)

The Times of India, July 28

LeT’s ‘western India chief’ held in city

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The police on Thursday arrested software engineer Muzammil Shaikh and his brother, Faisal, and claimed that the latter was the “western India Lashkare-Taiba commander’’.

TOI first reported, in its July 26 edition, that investigators probing the Terror Tuesday conspiracy were zeroing in on the chief LeT operative in western India. The police had then claimed that he was a businessman operating from Mumbai.


TOI learnt on Thursday that the 30-year-old Faisal, a resident of Mira Road, had an “export-import’’ business. But crime branch officials, who picked him up, said that the “small business’’ was only a front for routing hawala money that was channelled into terror causes. “We have come to know that he received hawala-routed money that was used to recruit youth for jihad,’’ a crime branch unit-II official said on Thursday night.

Both Faisal and the now Bangalore-based software engineer Muzammil will be produced in
court on Friday. Officials, however, were not “totally sure’’ about their role in Terror Tuesday. “We are interrogating them to ascertain the exact role they played on July 11,’’ an official said.

Faisal visited Pakistan twice in 2004 and 2005 for weapons training and stayed there for six months each time. He also met key ISI operative Azam Chima, officials claimed. ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi said that Muzammil and Faisal Shaikh were arrested on several charges, including murder, attempt to murder and crim
inal conspiracy. With these arrests, the number of people in police custody has gone up to eight.

Muzammil, who used to stay on Temkar Street in Nagpada, sold his house in 1996 and shifted to Mira Road. He joined the Bangalore unit of an MNC on a salary of Rs 40,000 a month. He has also been accused of going to Pakistan for training and was picked up on information passed on by the Intelligence Bureau. Two of Muzammil’s and Faisal’s cousins were called in for interrogation but were later allowed to go.

Officials also said that Pune resident Sohail Shaikh, arrested on July 25, revealed that he was given the job of finding out the names, addresses and current postings of hundreds of policemen who were deployed during the 2002 Gujarat riots but had done nothing to stop them.

The Times of India, July 28, 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Arrests loom for engineer, brother

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali I TNN
Mumbai: Software engineer Muzammil Shaikh and his unemployed brother, Faisal, are likely to be arrested “soon’’ for their alleged involvement in the serial blasts that killed around 200 people.

Officials claimed on Wednesday that Muzammil, who used to work in Bangalore, and Faisal, a resident of Naya Nagar in Mira Road, had both gone to Pakistan via Tehran for arms training.

The crime branch of the city police also picked up three persons from two southern districts of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon. Madhya Pradesh Police officials said two persons — unani
physician Abdul Wajid and cloth merchant Sajjad Beig alias Baba—were picked up from Burhanpur district and cook Hamid Qazi was picked up from a PWD resthouse in Khandwa. MP intelligence additional director-general S K Raut said: “The crime branch told us they were taking three persons since they had vital contacts in Mumbai which could help the ongoing probe.’’

The anti-terrorism squad has already arrested six persons for involvement in Terror Tuesday. Two of them, Zameer Shaikh (of Worli) and Sohail Shaikh (of Pune), were produced in court on Wednesday and cops got their remand till 7 August.

Out of the six arrested — Kamal Ahmed, Khalid Shaikh,
Mumtaz Chaudhuri, Tanvir Ansari, Zameer Shaikh and Sohail Shaikh—officials claim the last four have already “confessed’’ to visiting Pakistan for receiving terror training.

Officials said Sohail went last year. “He got down at Tehran airport, where Lashkar-e-Taiba men were there to receive him. He was taken to Pakistan by road via Ziadan and introduced to at least two members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. We have got important leads but can’t reveal it at this juncture,’’ an officer said.

ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi said Sohail and Zameer were trained in making bombs similar to those used on 11 July.

“The picture is becoming clearer but we don’t want to reveal the exact role played by them just now,’’ he said, indicating there would be more ar
rests in the next few days.

Despite claiming the “confessions’’, officials admitted they were not admissible in court. But the “confessions’’ would help them understand how terrorists functioned, they reasoned.

Zameer and Sohail said they were former Students’ Islamic Movement of India members and were sent to Pakistan via Iran by Ansari, officials claimed. But Ansari and Chaudhuri said it was one Raheel Shaikh who organised their trips to Pakistan.

Raheel, an active LeT member from the Grant Road area, had approached Ansari and Chaudhuri and had asked them to participate in some “nek kaam (good job)’’, officials said.

Blast suspects may face narco tests
The ATS is planning to subject all six suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba members arrested in connection with the 7/11 blasts to scientific tests, including narco-analysis. While scientific methods such as lie-detector and brainmapping tests can be
used as supporting evidence in a trial, other tests like narcoanalysis help collect information, sources said.

“They may be subjected to scientific tests to ascertain their involvement in the serial blasts,’’ a senior officer said. He added that investigators were confident those arrested were part of two separate LeT modules, and wanted to know whether the six were involved in the serial blasts or if they knew of any other module that may have been involved.

The Times of India, July 27, 2006

Ex-SIMI men find it hard to shake off ‘terror’ tag

(Arrested doc Tanvir Ahmed Ansari)

By Mateen Hafeez

Mumbai: Sajid Ahmed is now employed with a garments outlet. He used to be a member of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India but quit the organisation even before the government banned it. He has already submitted documentary proof of his resignation to the local police station. But, try as he might, he just cannot shake off the “SIMI’’ tag; he is called to the police station for “probes’’ whenever something untoward happens anywhere in the country.

Ahmed is not alone. There are hundreds like him who are ruing the day they joined the organisation, even though they left long before it was banned.

Ahmed’s parents now want him to marry and settle down. But they are not getting a suitable girl for him. “It is extremely humiliating. The family of every girl my parents have spoken to have rejected me,’’ he said on Wednesday. There is a common ground for refusal: “frequent police visits to his residence’’.


SIMI was established in 1978, ostensibly with an aim to build a strong nation. But, after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, the organisation found itself divided between the moderates and the extremists. Most of the moderates started resigning soon after that and the ban came in 2001.

Another former SIMI member said: “It has become very difficult to get a decent job because of
the SIMI label that has stuck. Nobody is willing to hire me in my locality since they fear police visits at their shops. I got a job in another area and was earning Rs 3,000 a month but the police visited that shop and my employer sacked me after that.’’

Many of these men’s families are now facing financial crisis because of a past they claim to have given up long ago.

Jameel Khan, a tailor by profession, had also resigned from the organisation. The sole breadwinner of the family earns around Rs 3,500 a month and says he does not have enough left over to engage a lawyer after meeting family expenses. “I am living in fear. I have faith in the judiciary but little in our police,’’ Khan said. But Feroz Shaikh has got used to all this; “all this’’, for him, includes visiting the local police
station religiously twice a month. “They call us and make us wait for hours for a two-minute talk. But, if we go 15 minutes late, we are punished and made to wait for an entire day to meet the relevant officer,’’ he said.

The Times of India, July 27, 2006

Police focus on visitors to Iran

By Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: The hunt for bombers responsible for the 7/11 serial blasts has led the crime branch to passport and visa agents. Sleuths are now poring over records to see how many Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 50 visited Iran for pilgrimage in the last few years, hoping that it will lead them to the truth behind Terror Tuesday.

Police officials, in their defence, say they are concentrating only on those who have police records. “It’s our job to explore all angles. We don’t want to take any chances,’’ an officer said on Wednesday. The police suspect that some of these visitors to Iran could have gone to Pakistan on the sly for arms training. So far, the police have been concentrating on those who have travelled to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.


But Iran, the spiritual centre for Shia Muslims, has many shrines. Lakhs of followers visit Mashad, every year where the shrine of Hazrat Imam Ali Raza, the eight descendant of Prophet Mohammad, is located. Qom city has a popular Islamic institute and is also known to be the nerve-centre of the Islamic revolution.

However, the police are unlikely to have it easy as over 10,000 Muslims from India visit Iran every year on the death anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Rizwan Hyder, a Shia student, said, “There are various types of packages offered by over 50 tour operators in the city and many of them cover Syria, Iran and Iraq. Many tour operators also offer a package that includes a visit to Pakistan to listen to Majlis (religious lectures).’’

The Times of India, July 27, 2006

Arrests loom for engineer, brother

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali I TNN

Mumbai: Software engineer Muzammil Shaikh and his unemployed brother, Faisal, are likely to be arrested “soon’’ for their alleged involvement in the serial blasts that killed around 200 people.

Officials claimed on Wednesday that Muzammil, who used to work in Bangalore, and Faisal, a resident of Naya Nagar in Mira Road, had both gone to Pakistan via Tehran for arms training.


The crime branch of the city police also picked up three persons from two southern districts of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon. Madhya Pradesh Police officials said two persons — unani
physician Abdul Wajid and cloth merchant Sajjad Beig alias Baba—were picked up from Burhanpur district and cook Hamid Qazi was picked up from a PWD resthouse in Khandwa. MP intelligence additional director-general S K Raut said: “The crime branch told us they were taking three persons since they had vital contacts in Mumbai which could help the ongoing probe.’’

The anti-terrorism squad has already arrested six persons for involvement in Terror Tuesday. Two of them, Zameer Shaikh (of Worli) and Sohail Shaikh (of Pune), were produced in court on Wednesday and cops got their remand till 7 August.

Out of the six arrested — Kamal Ahmed, Khalid Shaikh, Mumtaz Chaudhuri, Tanvir Ansari, Zameer Shaikh and Sohail Shaikh—officials claim the last four have already “confessed’’ to visiting Pakistan for receiving terror training.

Officials said Sohail went last year. “He got down at Tehran airport, where Lashkar-e-Taiba men were there to receive him. He was taken to Pakistan by road via Ziadan and introduced to at least two members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. We have got important leads but can’t reveal it at this juncture,’’ an officer said.


ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi said Sohail and Zameer were trained in making bombs similar to those used on 11 July.


“The picture is becoming clearer but we don’t want to reveal the exact role played by them just now,’’ he said, indicating there would be more ar
rests in the next few days.

Despite claiming the “confessions’’, officials admitted they were not admissible in court. But the “confessions’’ would help them understand how terrorists functioned, they reasoned.


Zameer and Sohail said they were former Students’ Islamic Movement of India members and were sent to Pakistan via Iran by Ansari, officials claimed. But Ansari and Chaudhuri said it was one Raheel Shaikh who organised their trips to Pakistan.


Raheel, an active LeT member from the Grant Road area, had approached Ansari and Chaudhuri and had asked them to participate in some “nek kaam (good job)’’, officials said.


Blast suspects may face narco tests
The ATS is planning to subject all six suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba members arrested in connection with the 7/11 blasts to scientific tests, including narco-analysis.

While scientific methods such as lie-detector and brainmapping tests can be
used as supporting evidence in a trial, other tests like narcoanalysis help collect information, sources said.

“They may be subjected to scientific tests to ascertain their involvement in the serial blasts,’’ a senior officer said. He added that investigators were confident those arrested were part of two separate LeT modules, and wanted to know whether the six were involved in the serial blasts or if they knew of any other module that may have been involved.

The Times of India, July 27, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

‘Enough of life under shadow of fear’

By Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: Kala Pani, which unani physician Tanvir Ansari calls his home, has now got used to men in khaki — or mufti — making an appearance, storming a house and then taking away someone. It always happens, say residents of the neighbourhood, whenever something “bad’’ happens anywhere in the country.

There are reasons why Kala Pani, in central Mumbai’s Madanpura, has acquired notoriety. It started with the arrest of a certain physician, called Jalees Ansari, in 1994 and there has been “no looking back’’ since then, residents say. Jalees Ansari, accused of having a hand in over 40 blasts across the country, has been convicted for life and is currently lodged at Gulbarga Jail.

“After that, whenever some terrorism-related case has happened in any part of the country, the police have come to our area and kept a close watch on goings-on. We are now used to it,’’ Rashid Ahmed, a resident of the area, says. So, when the neighbourhood learnt about Tanvir’s arrest, no one was unduly surprised, Ahmed’s neighbours said.

The narrow, dingy and dense
ly populated area has around 5,000 Muslims. At least nine other youths from the locality have been picked up since Jalees Ansari’s arrest. But they have been released after being interrogated. Nonetheless, their names have become part of police records and, whenever tension prevails in the city or any part of the country, the police increase patrolling and bandobast in this area. “Frequent visits by police and journalists are nothing new for us. They come, show sympathy and write whatever they want. Our life goes on,’’ another resident of the area said. The neighbourhood now knows what reporters are like. “Many cub reporters come to this area to observe people and are keen to know who Jalees Ansari was,’’ informs Mehmood Ahmed. The area saw a huge inflow during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 as a large number of families migrated from Uttar Pradesh and other states. A huge pond, filled with brackish water, gave the area its name. It has Nagpada, known as the place that harboured the Dawood Ibrahim gang, to its south; the Arun Gawli gang dominated the east; and Amar Naik and Ashwin Naik ruled the north.

The new generation, however, wants to change the locality and its image. Many are now going abroad to study computers, accountancy and business administration. “We want to change our image,’’ Imran Ahmed said.


WHERE IT ALL STARTED: Residence of Jalees Ansari, Kala Pani’s first terror convict

The Times of India, July 26, 2006

Cops get info on Pak terror camps

Suspects planned attacks in rest of state

By Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: Thirtyone-year-old Zameer Shaikh, a SIMI member who was picked up by the Mumbai police on Tuesday, is a resident of Lotus Colony at Worli while the 38-year-old Sohail Shaikh, also a SIMI activist, stays at Bhimpura, near Camp in Pune. “We have information that they planned attacks in Aurangabad and Pune and the consignment of explosives was supposed to be brought from Ratnagiri. We are now hunting for about a dozen more suspects who were part of this conspiracy,’’ an officer said. ATS officials said they had alerted officials in Aurangabad, Pune and Ratnagiri.

Zameer, a commerce graduate from Akbar Peerbhoy College near Nagpada, now runs a key-making shop at Grant Road along with his father. He continued working with a few other SIMI members after the organisation was banned in 2001 and they would meet frequently and discuss the “problems the community was facing’’. “Zameer went to Pakistan for training in 2005. His visa and tickets were arranged by a Mumbai-based businessman who doubled up as the LeT commander in Maharashtra. He took an Iran Airlines flight and got down at Teheran airport where he was received by three LeT agents,’’ an official said. The trail then went cold, the official admitted, saying they went to an unknown destination by road.

Sohail was a class-XII dropout from a Pune English-medium school and would “cure’’ patients by “spiritual treatment’’. He obtained training from a terror module in Pakistan in 2003, officials said. No one, however, explained what took police three years to go after him.

Zameer met unani physician Tanvir Ansari three years ago at a library on Belasis Road near Nagpada. It was Tanvir who introduced him to the unidentified LeT ‘commander’, who promised him to help him in jehad by sending him abroad for training.

The Times of India, July 26, 2006

Cops get info on Pak terror camps





WHEN THE MIDNIGHT KNOCK COMES...
(At left) Zameer’s mother Rayeesa (left) with his wife Yasmin and son Osama in their tiny hutment at Lotus Colony in Worli, Mumbai. (Right) Sohail’s parents Hajra and Mehmood Shaikh at their Bhimpura residence in Pune camp on Tuesday

Two SIMI Members Arrested On Charges Of 7/11 Conspiracy

By Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Mumbai police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday got its hands on two more members of the now-banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Zameer Shaikh and Sohail Shaikh.

Police officers said both were in direct touch with Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Maharashtra ‘commander-in-chief ’, whose identity they refused to disclose. Officials only said he

was a Mumbai-based businessman.

Police said Zameer and Sohail, who were arrested late on Tuesday night, are likely to be charged with criminal conspiracy and with having undergone terror training in Pakistan. But neither the crime branch nor the ATS was sure of the extent of their participation in Terror Tuesday. “We are questioning them and they will definitely give us some leads in the case,’’ a senior officer connected with the probe into Terror Tuesday said.

Another of those detained, 29-year-old software engineer Muzammil Shaikh, was
transferred from the crime branch unit-II office to another location on Tuesday. Muzammil, originally from Temkar Street in Nagpada, sold his house in 1996 and settled in Bangalore. He is now working with a multinational company there and earns Rs 40,000 a month. Officials said he went to Pakistan for training and was picked up on information passed on by the Intelligence Bureau.

Officers said Zameer and Sohail provided “important’’ information about LeT terror camp commander and training-in-charge Azam Chima. “There are about 14 training
camps across Pakistan where youths from different parts of the world train in terror,’’ one of the officers said. ISI operative Chima was one of the men that the country’s intelligence agencies would like to have in their net, he said.

Chima is also said to be a close associate of Maulana Masood Azhar, area commander of Pakistani outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked in 1999 to get Azhar released from Tihar Jail.

“Zameer and Sohail, who underwent training in different years, also met Chima
on the last day of their training (somewhat similar to convocation day). The trainees get a chance to meet Chima on this day,’’ an official said, adding, “There are at least a dozen more LeT-trained persons in Mumbai alone. The area commander, who is under police surveillance, could be arrested next week.’’

Muzammil’s unemployed brother, Faisal, also underwent training in a camp in Pakistan, officials added. But officials are not sure of his role in Terror Tuesday.

Suspects planned attacks in rest of state
Mumbai: Thirtyone-year-old Zameer Shaikh, a SIMI member who was picked up by the Mumbai police on Tuesday, is a resident of Lotus Colony at Worli while the 38-year-old Sohail Shaikh, also a SIMI activist, stays at Bhimpura, near Camp in Pune. “We have information that they planned attacks in Aurangabad and Pune and the consignment of explosives was supposed to be brought from Ratnagiri. We are now hunting for about a dozen more suspects who were part of this conspiracy,’’ an officer said. ATS officials said they had alerted officials in Aurangabad, Pune and Ratnagiri.

Zameer, a commerce graduate from Akbar Peerbhoy College near Nagpada, now runs a key-making shop at Grant Road along with his father. He continued working with a few other SIMI members after the organisation was banned in 2001 and they would meet frequently and discuss the “problems the community was facing’’. “Zameer went to Pakistan for training in 2005. His visa and tickets were arranged by a Mumbai-based businessman who doubled up as the LeT commander in Maharashtra. He took an Iran Airlines flight and got down at Teheran airport where he was received by three LeT agents,’’ an official said. The trail then went cold, the official admitted, saying they went to an unknown destination by road.

Sohail was a class-XII dropout from a Pune English-medium school and would “cure’’ patients by “spiritual treatment’’. He obtained training from a terror module in Pakistan in 2003, officials said. No one, however, explained what took police three years to go after him.

Zameer met unani physician Tanvir Ansari three years ago at a library on Belasis Road near Nagpada. It was Tanvir who introduced him to the unidentified LeT ‘commander’, who promised him to help him in jehad by sending him abroad for training.
The Times of India, July 26, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cops pick up unani doc for terror links



DOC IN DOCK: Tanvir Ahmed Ansari is brought out of the court

Freedom-Fighter Mom Feels ‘Humiliated’, ‘Knows’ Son Isn’t Guilty But Won’t Mind Punishment If She’s Wrong

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: For 71-year-old Shamsunnisa — whose son, Tanvir Ahmed, has been arrested for suspected involvement in Terror Tuesday — the last few days have been nightmarish. And things have not been helped by another set of six-decade-old memories, of herself taking to the streets with elders in her family to demand India’s independence.

The arrest, she says, is more humiliating than anything else. She also wants her son to be punished if he is guilty. “But I know he is not involved. I feel humiliated because my son has been arrested in a terrorism-related case,’’ she said from her doorsteps on Monday.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), probing the blasts that killed over 200 people, showed Tanvir as arrested late on Sunday evening. But his mother thinks she knows why it happened: “My son has been made a scapegoat since he was once attached to SIMI. Despite quitting the organisation six years ago, the cops are saying he is behind
the blasts.’’

The 30-year-old unani physician, registrar of MH Saboo Siddik Hospital, stays in a dingy BIT chawl at Kaala Paani near Madanpura. Things have not been comfortable at home — he shares a 150-squarefoot room with his wife, mother, a paralytic sister and his brother and his wife and son (who sleep on a loft) — but that has not
prevented him from doing “social work’’, says Shamsunnisa. Tanvir was part of a 50-doctor team that went to Gujarat after the 2000 earthquake to help victims. And he did not want to marry because he feared marriage would come in the way of his looking after his paralytic sister.

Three of his elder brothers are married and stay with their families and four elder sisters stay with their in-laws.

The family is traditional enough to still keep its women in hijab (veil). And, when this reporter tried to talk to a woman, Shamsunnisa stepped in, saying: “You cannot talk to her.’’ The circumstances of his arrest were dramatic enough. He was examining a baby at the ICU of the hospital on Thursday night when four policemen barged in and collared him to the crime branch unit-II office at Jacob’s Circle. But they forgot to inform his family of the arrest; Tanvir’s father and elder brother hunted for him for the whole night.

“We then went to the Kurla police station where cops told me to contact policemen at the crime branch unit-II office. We went there and saw him sitting on a table with swollen eyes. He was, perhaps, beaten up badly,’’ Shamsunnisa recalled.


Colleagues and neighbours cannot explain the sudden turn of events. Siddik Hospital medical director Abdur Rauf Sumar found Tanvir “efficient, sincere and disciplined for which he was promoted to the registrar’s post’’.


Cops quiz ‘detained’ chemical engineer, cousin

Mumbai: A chemical engineer, picked up from Bangalore last week for a suspected role in Terror Tuesday, and his cousin are now being interrogated by police officials in Mumbai.

Officials, tight-lipped about the entire process that led to the detention, say they suspect the chemical engineer — identified as Muzammil — to have a fair knowledge of the place where the 7/11 bombs were manufactured and the manner in which the blasts were executed.

Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials suspect Muzammil and his cousin to have information of at least two persons who had a key role to play in the blasts that left around 200 dead and injured around 600 others.

Senior Mumbai police officials, however, refused to say anything about the detentions on record.


Name:
Tanvir Ahmed Ansari (Pic on left)
Age: 30
School: Passed SSC from Maulana Azad High School, Agripada
Junior College: Passed HSC from Maharashtra College, Mumbai Central
College: Passed Bachelor in Unani Medicines and Surgery (BUMS) from Tibbiya Unani College, Nagpur
First Job: An intern at Fauziya Nursing Home, Grant Road Now: Registrar of MH Saboo Siddik Hospital

The hospital where he works



shocked family members on Monday
The Times of India, July 25, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

LONG ARM OF THE LAW

Maharashtra cops fan out all over India

By Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Over a hundred police personnel from Maharashtra — most of them posted in Mumbai — have fanned out all over the country, working on the probe into Terror Tuesday in states ranging from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south.

Senior officials say the police in this state or the city have not seen an operation on such a scale, either numerically or geographically, ever.


And these men have been at it for the past few days, say officials, though the first breakthroughs were revealed only on Friday. These 100-plus personnel were divided into approximately 20 teams, a senior police official said on Saturday.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad of Mumbai Police, with 18 teams on the field, is at the vanguard of the pan-India operation and is being backed up by personnel from the state’s Criminal Intelligence Department (CID), the Special Branches (SBs) and the State Intelligence Department (SID).

These teams are are hunting for leads in Bangalore (Karnataka), Rajasthan, Gu
jarat, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) and Tamil Nadu. Besides, the men are also combing over 10 districts in Maharashtra itself.

The last state to be covered in this gigantic sweep is Tamil Nadu. A police team from Mumbai left for Coimbatore on Saturday soon after they got information about the detention of five persons who were detained there for their alleged links with terror outfits.

But the traffic has not been all one-way. Madhya Pradesh additional director-general of police (intelligence) S K Raut also visited the city and exchanged intelligence with senior ATS officials. The state districts being visited include Beed, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Kolhapur, Nanded and Pune. A host of detentions and several rounds of interrogation have followed the search operations.


State DGP P S Pasricha held a meeting, soon after the seven blasts on seven trains bombings, with the commissioner of Mumbai Police, the ATS chief, the Government Railway Police chief, the SID additional director-general of police and the joint commissioner of police (SB) and asked them for a joint operation. Officials say what the country is witnessing now is a follow-up of that meeting.


The Times of India, July 23, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just 4 ATS men knew of operation


3 Arrests In Bihar And Mumbai, Raids Yield ‘Black Substance’ That Could Be RDX, But Cops Say Case Not Over Yet


Mateen
Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: The police in Mumbai is not yet accepting congratulatory messages for solving the conspiracy behind Terror Tuesday despite one of the three arrested from Bihar “admitting’’ his presence in Mumbai a week prior to 11/7 and “cnfessing’’ he had gone over to Pakistan for arms training.

“No, no, we have not solved the case completely,’’ Anti-Terrorism Squad additional commissioner of police Jai Jeet Singh said on Friday. “This is just the beginning,’’ he added a couple of hours after the police succeeded in convincing a city court into granting it the custody of the three accused of engineering the 11/7 blasts.


A police team led by inspector Vasant Tajne brought the two accused in a Sahara Airlines flight on Thursday. The operation was so secret that the entire staff, except ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi, Jai Jeet Singh and inspector Sunil Deshmukh, were in the dark about Tajne’s Bihar visit.


Officials explained how the first three arrests came about. It was a case from the past, which involved possession of an AK-47, that actually did Kamal Ahmed Ansari in, they said. As police all over the country pored over old records, they found this man from a Madhubani village missing from his residence for a week before the Mumbai serial blasts.


He was picked up for questioning on Monday and, officials claimed, he confessed to having obtained training in a camp in Pakistan in 2002.


Two ATS officers went to Bihar as soon as
they got a tip-off and interrogated Ansari, who later confessed that he was in Mumbai for over a week just before the blast.

Ansari also disclosed about relative Khalid Shaikh’s role. “The duo, when questioned in different rooms, said they had gone to Mumbai and stayed at Mumtaz Chaudhri’s rented room in Navi Mumbai. Another team then reached Navi Mumbai and nabbed Chaudhri for questioning. He said the two, along with three oth
ers, had come to his residence and also “confessed’’ to their involvement in the blasts that killed about 200 and injured hundreds more.

Chaudhri came to Mumbai about six years ago from Uttar Pradesh and imparted part-time Arabic education to children, earning around Rs 3,000 a month. He was reportedly involved in a rioting case in Mumbai.


“We suspect that Chaudhri provided shelter to the duo and others. We cannot say whether
they planted the bombs or manufactured them since the probe is still on. But preliminary investigations indicate they might helped others and guided them in Mumbai,’’ an officer said. Chaudhri’s three roommates have also been detained by the ATS and are being questioned.

The Times of India, July 22, 2006