Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SIMI man behind Malegaon blasts

Noor-ul-Huda, a worker in an inverter unit, is produced in a Malegaon court on Monday

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The state police claims it has solved the September 8 Malegaon blasts case with the arrest on Monday of a former activist of the banned organisation SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India).

Director-General of Police P S Pasricha announced
on Monday that the police had arrested Noor-ul-Huda (24), a labourer in a battery unit at Malegaon and a former SIMI member, in connection with the blasts that killed 38 people and injured 297. The DGP also said that the owner of the battery unit, Shabbir Masiullah (34), would be booked in the case. Masiullah is in the custody of the Mumbai crime branch which arrested him for his SIMI links.

Pasricha has, however, refused to reveal anything more. All he was willing to say was that the motive was to create communal riots.

The Times of India, October 31, 2006

Huda’s arrest fails to answer questions

ATS DRAWS A BLANK

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Despite keeping alleged Malegaon bomb planter Noor-ul-Huda in custody for over 20 days, the anti terrorism squad (ATS) is yet to get answers to several questions dogging the case. The ATS remains tightlipped about Huda’s specific role and who the other conspirators, bomb planters and the financier were.

Twenty four-year-old Huda, a labourer, has been on the police radar since 2001 when he was arrested for the first time for his alleged association with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

His arrest on October 9 did not surprise many. Most residents claimed Huda was always the ‘usual suspect’ and a senior police officer was after him though he would report to the police station regularly. Sources said whenever tension prevailed in the powerloom town, the police would detain him for several days.

TOI visited Huda’s 15x10 sq ft house in Jaffer Nagar. The third among nine
siblings, Huda finished secondary school and joined his father, Shamsud Duha, in the powerloom business. The father-son duo would work in a powerloom unit and earn around Rs 800 a week which was not enough for the family. “Six month ago he told me that he would work in a battery unit and earn some more. He was employed at Shabbir Masiullah’s factory. Though he had disassociated himself from SIMI, the police would detain him frequently,’’ said Duha.

The police said the mud found in a dummy bomb and the mud from Masiullah’s factory contained RDX. The unit closed after Masiullah’s arrest on August 11 and the Malegaon blast took place almost a month later. Therefore, Huda could not have entered Masiullah’s factory. The police were also yet to establish who financed the blast. The cops have avoided questions about the mastermind, the
meeting points, the bomb manufacturers, smuggling of RDX etc. Masiullah’s brother Jameel said his brother used to manufacture batteries and inverters and would use chemicals and therefore the mud at the factory could be different as it could have absorbed the chemicals lying around. However, the police refused to buy the theory. Masiullah, who stayed in Saudi Arabia between 1991 and 1996, separated from his family and was staying with his wife and four children. After returning from the Gulf, he started Gazal Store, an imitation jewellery shop, but later rented it out and started selling batteries and inverters.

Meanwhile, the ATS want to take Huda to Gujarat, Aurangabad and Madhya Pradesh for investigation. He was sent to police custody till November 3.

Masiullah was also arrested for his alleged links with SIMI. He is also accused of going to Pakistan via Dubai for terror training two years ago. Masiullah is also a friend of Govandi resident Mohammed Ali, arrested in the 7/11 case.

The Times of India, October 31, 2006

Malegaon accused trained in Pak


The Malegaon blasts killed 38 people

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: SIMI activist Noor-ul-Huda, who was arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts on Monday, is a high school drop-out, was first arrested by the Malegaon police on October 9 and booked under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). He was later taken to Bangalore for lie detector and narco analysis tests.

“We received a tip-off about Huda’s involvement in the blasts and he spilled the beans after he was arrested,’’ DGP P S Pasricha said.

Police sources said Huda confessed to planting a dummy bomb on the staircase of the Mohammedia Masjid in central Malegaon on September 12. The ‘bomb’ contained mud and RDX. Later when the police collected samples of mud from the factory of Shabbir Masiullah, where Huda was working, they contained traces of RDX, Pasricha claimed. “We have witnesses and scientific evidence in this case,’’ the DGP said, adding that revealing any more information would hamper
investigations.

According to sources, the police are looking for three other persons who parked the bomb-laden cycles and are trying to collect information about those who manufactured the bombs.

According to the police, the blasts conspiracy was hatched eight months ago and the RDX was smuggled into Malegaon by another module. The police said that at least two to three modules were
involved in the blasts. Masiullah (34) is allegedly the brain behind the blasts while Huda is said to have carried out his orders.

The bombs that were used in Malegaon were made in Masiullah’s factory. Masiullah is also accused of going to Pakistan for terror training.

“Huda told us that he knew of other planters but not their names. At least half a dozen people are involved in this case and we are collecting evidence against them. Several accused belong to areas outside Malegaon,’’ a police officer said.

When Masiullah’s factory closed after his arrest on August 11, Huda started working in a powerloom unit. He would also report to the police several times a week.

After the 7/11 train bombings in Mumbai, Huda was picked up from Malegaon and detained at the Mumbai crime branch’s Unit VII office between August 4 and August 14. The crime branch released him after it failed to find anything suspicious pertaining to him.

The Times of India, October 31, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

One booked in Malegaon fake bomb case

Mateen Hafeez & Shibu Thomas I TNN
Mumbai: The police recently booked powerloom labourer Noorul Huda, 23, for allegedly planting a fake bomb in a mosque in Malegaon on September 14. Huda had on October 8 also been arrested for being a member of the banned
Simi outfit, but he was granted bail in that case. The new booking allows the police to keep Huda in custody.

On September 14, two boxes were found on the staircase of the Mohammedia mosque in central Malegaon, creating panic in the city. Sniffer dogs confirmed the presence of explosives, but after eight hours the police found “mud mixed with firecracker powder’’ in
the boxes. A case of mischief to create panic was registered against an unknown person with the Malegaon police.

On Sunday, Rajvardhan, superintendent of police, Nashik (rural), said, “We have booked Huda in the hoax bomb case. The chemical analysis report of the mixture stated that it was firecracker powder mixed with mud. He has been sent to police custody till October 26.’’

Azeem Khan, lawyer for Huda, said, “The judge granted Huda bail in the Simi case and soon the police arrested him in the Mohammedia mosque case. I didn’t have the report of the chemical analysis of the hoax bomb with me. On that day, the NSG squad had come and examined it.’’

Meanwhile, Huda asked the Bombay high court on Monday to restrain the police from conducting narco-analysis, brain-mapping and lie-detector tests on him. The police sought to conduct the tests in connection with the September 8 blasts in Malegaon.

Huda’s advocate Amin Solkar said his client had not even been shown as arrested in the Malegaon blast case. Solkar added that Huda had already undergone a round of tests at Bangalore.

Vacation judge Justice Anup Mohta refused to grant a stay, while adjourning the hearing till Wednesday.

The Times of India, October 25, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Court asks Nashik police to look for missing informer

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Friday instructed the Nashik (rural) police to search for Abrar Ahmed who disappeared under mysterious circumstances last week. Ahmed’s relatives suspect he has been picked up by the Malegaon police in connection with the serial bomb blasts on September 8 in which 38 people were killed and 297 injured. The family filed a habeas corpus petition which was heard by the division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Roshan Dalvi on Friday.

he court also instructed the family that once Ahmed was traced, they should file another affidavit. Ahmed (35), a resident of Islampura area in central Malegaon, disappeared last week. TOI, on October 18, reported about the circumstances in which he went missing.


Ahmed, who repairs inverters and batteries, was on his way home on his scooter on September 8 when he was stopped at a nakabandi by the police. According to relatives, the policeman checked his dickey and found inverters and wires in it. They took him to the police station where he was interrogated. “The policemen asked him to repair several batteries there and then took him to Nashik where he was again asked to use his expertise and repair a few inverters. He was then set free,’’ a relative said.

According to sources, Ahmed and his wife were then ‘gifted’ expensive mobile phones by a senior officer in Malegaon who was alleged to have distributed cellphones to several informants. Ahmed, who separated from the rest of his family eight
months ago, called up from an STD booth in Indore on Wednesday and asked his relatives to call him on that number after an hour. “The family tried calling him on the number for hours but no one answered. We suspect that somebody is forcing him to stay away,’’ a relative said.

However, the police denied that they had picked him up. “We don’t
have anyone in our custody. We are probing the case and will soon make a breakthrough,’’ said P K Jain, inspector general (Nashik range).

Meanwhile, the Mumbai crime branch last month arrested Shabbir Masiullah (36) on charges of his alleged association with the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India. Masiullah is also a resident of Malegaon and is in the business of selling inverters. A 25-year-old labourer, Noorul Huda, was also arrested two weeks ago by the Malegaon police for his association with SIMI. The Malegaon police wants to subject him to narco-analysis. Huda was employed with Masiullah, a police officer said.

The Times of India, October 21, 2006

Case that became a benchmark for cops

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Khwaja Yunus case, some say, has become a cautionary tale for policemen who believe in using strong-arm tactics for interrogation.

The alleged custodial death and the subsequent probe by the CID has brought as many as 37 men from the Mumbai police force under the scanner. Several of them have been arrested and released on bail ahead of the trial; they have all been stripped of their posts. Others have been transferred out of the elite crime branch for misuse of powers, and still others, apprehending judicial action, have acquired anticipatory bail.

Not a single accused in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case, in which Yunus was a suspect, was subjected to forensic tests. The police had merely relied on interrogations in custody, which yielded confessions that could in turn be presented in the POTA court. This along with circumstantial evidence became the basis of a case, which was eventually thrown out by the POTA court and questioned by the media.

For the 40,000-strong force, the case now serves as a benchmark, a constant reminder of the need to use “tactful interrogation techniques’’ and shun methods of third degree physical torture. Increasingly, the force has begun to rely on forensic tests and psychological methods to make a custodial accused sing. For instance, in probing the plot behind the 7/11 train bombings, four of the key accused have already been subjected to forensic scrutiny.

One of the investigators of the Zaveri Bazaar blasts conspiracy admitted that the Yunus saga has indeed led to increased reliance on forensic tests. “Earlier, police was dependent on circumstantial evidence and statements. Now we have facilities for brain-mapping, narco analysis, lie detection, etc. All those arrested for heinous crimes like acts of terrorism or rape are now subjected to such tests to get to the truth,’’ he said.

Techniques to coerce an accused into revealing details of a crime have also evolved through interaction with international law enforcement agencies. The methods used to break a suspect’s resolve can be subtle enough not to leave behind telltale signs of torture or cause serious injuries. “Sometimes they don’t let the ac
cused sleep for days together, or they use battery-generated electric current to inflict shocks. There is no risk to life in these methods but they can slowly break a person,’’ said ex-IPS officer Y P Singh. Threats are also made that family members could be implicated if he does not fall in line.

The shift from brutal methods of interrogation has also been aided by civil society. An officer, who served on many highprofile operations, admitted “there is a lot of pressure from human rights commission, from superiors and media to stop using hard methods of interrogation. Who will investigate a case at the cost of his service, reputation and life?’’


UNSAFE CUSTODY


January 2006: Bombay high court asks the state government to submit a report on what it has done to implement the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission on dealing with custodial deaths. This is in response to a PIL in which the petitioners argue that Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of custodial deaths in the country.

April 2006: High court orders a second postmortem to be conducted on the body of Premnath Rao, who died in custody at the Agripada police station. Then it orders a magisterial inquiry into the incident after Rao’s relatives plead that injuries on his body suggest that he could not have committed suicide in the lock-up, as the police had claimed.

December 1996: Laxman Somnath Verma dies at a jail in Kalyan. Later, the NHRC looks into the death and observes that Verma had died due to negligence. Verma had been suffering from tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease unattended since there was no doctor in the jail.




The Times of India, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

Doubts still linger over 7/11 evidence - WHAT’S THE TRUTH?

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad, which is probing the July 11 train bombing case, discharged three of the 16 suspects on October 13 saying there was “no direct evidence’’ against them. However, the police claimed to have collected “enough physical evidence’’ against the other accused, who were booked for conspiracy, manufacturing and planting the bombs.

The released men were Mumtaz Chaudhuri, Khalid Shaikh and alleged Al-Badar divisional commander Akmal Hashmi. However, sceptics have raised questions with regard to some of the “physical evidence’’ the police are relying on for their case.

The first piece of evidence the police laid their hands on was 500 gm of black powder from suspect Kamal Ahmed’s residence in Madhubani district of Bihar. But Kamal’s mother said the powder was unused cement that had been bought three years ago during house repairs. She said the pow
der had turned black over time. But the chemical analysis the authorities ordered said the powder was RDX.

The ATS also said it seized sulphuric acid, hydrogen peroxide and acetone from unani physician Tanvir Ahmed’s personal locker at the M H Saboo Siddik Hospital in Mumbai. An ATS officer had called Tanvir an expert in using chemicals to make bombs. But Mumbai police chief A N Roy told TOI that Tanvir had not been taught how to make bombs with chemicals and had, therefore, asked Zameer Shaikh, another accused, to bring the
formula with him from Pakistan so he could learn it. Zameer had gone there for arms training soon after Tanvir had been kicked out from there for questioning LeT strategy.

The police also claimed that they seized 26,000 riyals sent from Saudi Arabia through the hawala route to Faisal Shaikh, the alleged western Indian commander of the LeT, who is also arrested in the case. However, sources pointed out hawala money usually received in India is in rupees.

The police also said they recovered a few pressure-cooker whistles and gaskets from the sand near the Mira Road railway tracks. An ATS officer said Faisal had revealed that the cookers were used in the blasts and that he had separated the whistles and gaskets and tried to throw them away. “But we recovered them,’’ said an officer.

But the blasts were on July 11, Faisal was picked up on July 16 and handed over to the ATS on July 27. He was taken for narco-tests in the first week of September. The whistles and
gaskets would have been in the area for one-and-a-half months before the ATS traced them. Also, Faisal had been staying in Bandra at the time of the blasts, which is several suburbs away from Mira Road.

On August 22, the ATS shot down Mohammed Ali alias Abu Osama, an alleged Pakistani national, and said that it recovered maps of Mumbai, Maharashtra and the world, an AK-47, 18 empty cartridges, 72 live cartridges, a red diary and 1.5kg of black powder from him. The powder, according to chemical analysis, was RDX.

The police said that Ali was one of the Pakistanis who perpetrated the blasts, but while the others had fled, Ali’s Pakistani instructor had asked him to return to Mumbai and hide in a deserted Antop Hill building. However, the police cannot say why Ali was asked to return to the city. ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi was unavailable for comment.

The Times of India, October 20, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bank heists remain unsolved mysteries

UNDER SIEGE: The cashier of the bank (centre) along with a colleague after the attempted heist

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: Bank robberies now seem to be the easiest crime for organised syndicates that have gradually filled up the vacuum left behind by the big extortionists. It, of course, helps that the police fail to crack most of the cases.

Six men looted about Rs 38 lakh from the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank Ltd at Ghatkopar this February. Till date, not a single paisa has been recovered.

The anti-robbery squad of the crime branch, led by inspector Vijay Salaskar, killed Ramesh Prajapati a few days later and said he was the mastermind of the Ghatkopar heist despite earlier claims that the robbery was the handiwork of the Nadar gang.

But that did not help in recovering the loot.

Deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhananjay Kamalakar, also head of the crime branch, said: “Our investigations are on and we will definitely nab the culprits. We will also try to recover the money.’’

A few days after the Ghatkopar robbery, the Oshiwara branch of the Indian Bank was robbed of Rs 1.5
lakh. Here, too, police are yet to recover any money.

Though police officials blame banks for not following the security advisories — and these charges are genuine as most of the security paraphernalia is
not known to work — three bank robberies this year have raised questions about the efficacy of the police’s special patrolling squads and beat marshals.

But it is not that the police has not
been able to pre-empt a few heists.

An attempted heist on a Vijaya Bank branch in Santa Cruz was foiled by a security guard and police marshals earlier this year.

But, in cases where robbers have made off with the loot, the Mumbai Police force has had a very dismal success rate in solving the mysteries and recovering the loot.

The heist on the Mulund branch of the Catholic Syrian Bank, where robbers made off with Rs 9 lakh, and the robbery at the City Union Bank branch in Khar are some of the other unsolved cases.

The gangs active in bank robberies include those belonging to Ramesh Upadhyay, Ayyub Chikna and Ashok Jivani.


THE MISSING MILLIONS
Eight strikes on banks since August 2005 have got robbers about Rs 80 lakh; most of the money has not been recovered

February 2006
Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank, Ghatkopar Money looted: Rs 38 lakh Case diary: Cops shot dead prime accused Ramesh Prajapati on the Western Express Highway a few days after the robbery; no one knows what happened to the money he had looted
Indian Bank, Oshiwara Money looted: Rs 1.5 lakh

August 2005-January 2006
Catholic Syrian Bank, Ulhasnagar Money looted: Rs 11 lakh Corporation Bank, Dombivli Money looted: Rs 10 lakh Catholic Syrian Bank, Mulund Money looted: Rs 9 lakh Federal Bank, Vashi Money looted: Rs 6 lakh City Union Bank, Khar Money looted: Rs 4 lakh Syrian Bank, Vasai Money looted: Rs 60,000

THE MEN BEHIND THE STRIKES
A few gangs are under cops’ scanner for bank robberies

RAMESH UPADHYAY GANG
Claim to fame: Is suspected to be behind a series of bank robberies in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane Survival technique: Has a strong informants’ network; members carry out reconnaissance missions before every major strike

ASHOK JIVANI GANG
Claim to fame: Has taken to robbing banks after living off a cash-and-gold staple Survival technique: Does not like to employ too many freshers as has no trust in their ability to ‘handle’ police interrogation

AYUB CHIKNA GANG
Claim to fame: Is believed to be behind some Mumbai and Panvel robberies Survival technique: Recruits jobless youths from UP, pays them Rs 3,000-Rs 5,000 for a robbery and packs them home after crime


INSTEAD OF MONEY, THEY TOOK A LIFE

8.05 am
Four armed men enter the Airoli branch of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank; one of them is masked and has a gun, three others have choppers and they disarm the armed securityman. They then lock the four customers and the two securitymen (one of them is off duty) into a toilet; one of the customers calls up the police


8.08 am
The robbers ask for the keys to the locker; the cashier, however, takes time to hand over the second of the two combination keys


8.17 am
The robbers decide they have had enough of waiting and move towards the exit only to be confronted by two cops; lone gunman shoots dead one of the cops



police sketches of two of the suspects

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cops pick up ‘informer’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Three days after state director-general of police P S Pasricha claimed that those responsible for Malegaon serial bomb blasts had been identified, a 28-year-old alleged police informant has reportedly been picked up. The blast that rocked the textile town on September 8, killed 38 people and injured 297.

The suspect, Abrar Ahmed, who earlier resided in the Islampura area of central Malegaon, had shifted to the outskirts. Sources said Ahmed, who’s unemployed, was close to the policemen in the blasthit area.

The police are, however, not ready to comment on this issue. While the anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which is also investigating the case, failed to make any breakthrough, the Malegaon police that apparently had a strong network of informers in the textile city also could not make headway.


A bomb planted in the carrier of a cycle parked at Mushawerat chowk went off killing eight persons and three bombs planted on cycles exploded at Bada Qabrastan (cemetery) on the day of Shab-e-Baraat when over 5,000 people had come to offer Friday Namaz in the afternoon. Chemical analysis of the bombs revealed that the bombs were

made of RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite and hydero petroleum carbon oil. The bombs were connected with timer devices. Most of the people were killed because the splinters of the explosive penetrated their body. Over two dozen children below the age of 15 years were injured in the blast.

Sources said Ahmed, who does not stay with his parents, called up his family on Monday at 4 pm and said he will not return to his place for some time. It is learnt that names
of a doctor and few others have also cropped up during the investigation and DGP Pasricha claimed to have identified the accused in the blast case only after the police got information from the suspects detained by the police. A police source said the Malegaon blast could have not been executed without the assistance of the local people. However, residents of Malegaon said the locals were not involved in the blast and that the police was trying to mislead them.

A section of residents is also upset with Rajvardhan, superintendent of police, Nasik (rural), for not revealing anything about the blast. “Over 38 people have died, about 700 people were picked up, harassed them and recorded their statements. Even then the police are not making any headway? If there is any development the police should inform the people through the media,’’ said a local resident. Rajvardhan said the police were making investigation in the right direction.

The Times of India, October 18, 2006

Sarpanch held for storing explosives

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Aurangabad rural police on Sunday arrested the sarpanch of Aadgaon village after a huge quantity of chemicals, detonators and gelatin sticks were seized from one of his properties. This is the third arrest in this case, the police sources said.

The police on Saturday raided sarpanch Dinkar Surybhan’s property in Aadgaon village—15 km from Aurangabad, and seized 430 kg of ammonium nitrate, 566 detonators, 183 gelatin sticks of 125 gm each, and 80 safety tubes from there. They arrested Suryabhan’s employee, Kacharu Mali (42), and his son
Bharat Mali (20).

A case has been registered with Chikal Thana police station under the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code. The case is being investigated by the anti-terrorism cell (ATC) of the Aurangabad police.

Preliminary investigation
revealed that Suryabhan didn’t have a licence to store or sell such destructive chemicals. Mali and his son told the police that Suryabhan supplies the chemicals and other seized items to the well-making contractors and mine digging contractors.

Sanjeev Singhal, superintendent of police, Aurangabad (rural), said Suryabhan has been sent to police custody till October 20. “According to Suryabhan, a licence is not required for selling ammonium nirate. However, we will be writing to the controller of explosives to know more about the conditions for selling explosives and chemicals,’’ Singhal said.

The Times of India, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

2 undertrials shot outside court




Mafia Slays Informer At Kala Ghoda In Daylight

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: It was a moment that brought back chilling memories of the mid-’90s when shootouts on public roads had virtually become a professional hazard for passersby. On Monday, Kala Ghoda in the heart of downtown Mumbai took the full blast of one such firing, when three unidentified gunmen shot dead two persons—accused in a case of drug-running—at a busy junction. Amjad Khan, 40, and Himanshu Chaudhury, 25, had just emerged from the sessions court, off Kala Ghoda, when they were waylaid and pumped with several bullets by the three assailants. Khan and Chaudhury were slated to return to the same court a couple of hours later to appear in a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act case involving the seizure of mandrax in 2000.

The daylight murder, at one of the busiest traffic signals of south Mumbai, occurred about 200 metres from the sessions court and 500 metres from the office of the director-general of police. The police have
recovered an empty cartridge from the spot.

Khan’s killing may turn out to be a bigger loss for the police than Chaudhary’s though both have caused trepidation about shooters and contract killers making a comeback to the city. Khan had, of late, graduated to becoming a “valuable’’ informant for the crime branch; officials said it was he who tipped them off about a consignment, containing 1,284 live car
tridges, 37 revolvers and silencers, seized from JNPT on May 21 last year.

A resident of Sahar village in the western suburbs, Khan had been on the hit list of a few other gangs for some time; officials said the Chhota Rajan gang may have been involved in the killing.

Chaudhury and Khan were out on bail and had reached the court around 12 noon to check out when their cases would come up for hearing. Told they would have to appear at 3 pm, they left the court premises and were walking on the pavement opposite Jehangir Art Gallery.


DRAMA AT HIGH NOON

Undertrials Khan and Chaudhury went to the sessions court at Kala Ghoda on Monday morning but were told to come back at 3 pm


They made their way out of court and were walking on the pavement opposite Jehangir Art Gallery when three unidentified persons approached them and pumped in several bullets


The assailants then fired in the air to scare off pursuers and escaped to a lane next to Khyber’s, where a getaway car was possibly waiting


THE CASE
516 kg of mandrax tablets were seized in a DRI raid on an Andheri godown in 2000. The two shot dead on Monday were among the five accused

THE VICTIMS
Amjad Khan (40) and Himanshu Chaudhury (25) were out on bail. Khan, a prime police informant, ran a catering business while Chaudhary was an office manager in a pvt firm

WHODUNIT?
One theory suggests that Khan and Chaudhury were killed by the Chhota Rajan gang since Khan was suspected to have tipped off the police about a huge arms consignment seized from JNPT last year


Assailants wore jeans, printed shirts

Mumbai: Recounting the daylight slaying of two undertrials at Kala Ghoda on Monday, an eye-witness said, “Three pedestrians appeared from the Kala Ghoda side, crossed the road and shot at Amjad Khan and Himanshu Chaudhury with revolvers.’’ The assailants were clean-shaven and were wearing printed shirts and jeans, added the owner of a garments shop at Esplanade Mansion. “The shots sounded like crackers,’’ he said. “I peeked out from my shop to see what had happened and saw three young men fire shots and then flee into the lane next to Khyber’s.”

However, others in the area were too frightened to speak out. The owner of a stationery shop, located in the same building and with a better view of the spot, claimed he had not seen or heard anything.

Officials said the killers fired in the air as they tried to shake off some passersby who pursued them as they escaped on foot to a vehicle that, perhaps, was waiting for them. A constable chased two of the assailants up to the BSE building where they gave him the slip.

Khan and Chaudhury were rushed to GT Hospital but were declared dead on arrival, said medical superintendent of GT Hospital H S Jadhav.

The Times of India, October 17, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Militant, cop have same Pak roots

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: When 7/11 suspect Toufique Akmal Hashmi was brought before the chief investigating officer for questioning he had no idea he would be sitting opposite a man whose ancestors had hailed from the same town across the border as his.

Hashmi, the alleged divisional commander of the Al Badr militant group, was discharged on Friday for lack of evidence. Earlier, he was surprised to discover that the family of Jai Jeet Singh, the deputy inspector-general of the anti-terrorism squad (ATS), had come to India from his hometown, Tehsil Phalin, in Gujarat, Pakistan.

“It’s sad that a person from my hometown is involved in subversive activities in India. I feel bad,’’ said Singh, who personally interrogated 30-year-old Hashmi. Singh, who has never visited Tehsil Phalin, said: “When Hashmi came to know of me, he was shocked. I did my job and interrogated him thoroughly.’’

Hashmi was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police on July 27 this year and handed over to the ATS. He allegedly told J&K police that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was behind the Mumbai blasts. He said LeT commander Abu Tarique had told him that 17 people had taken part in the operation and one of them, Abu Muslim Jarrar, was killed in the blasts.

Hashmi, who was booked in the Mahim blasts case, has admitted to receiving training from militant outfits. He told the court on Friday that his grandfather was killed in 1947 while crossing the border and he wanted to avenge his death. To retaliate against the Indian Army, he first joined the Pakistani Army, but was upset at being posted in the military’s electrical department. After two years, he
left the army and joined the militant Hizbul Mujahideen.

He then went to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) where he met a few Lashkar militants at a camp in Kherkotli village and joined hands with them. The LeT sent him for training to Mansera district in Ugiri tehsil, but Hashmi later returned to the army.

According to Hashmi, after his training at an LeT camp, the outfit sent him to Afganistan, but the Taliban kicked him out of there. Hashmi said he raised funds for the Mujahideens during the Kargil war. He further said

Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) took militants to Kargil to battle the Indian Army. “The Pakistan military was supported by five militant outfits in the Kargil war—the LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen, Al Badr, Harkatul Mujahideen and Harkat-Jihad-e-Islami. Many armymen were not wearing their uniform and sported beards to show that they were not from the military, but were militants,’’ Hashmi said. Though he didn’t participate in the actual fighting, he was promoted to divisional commander of the Al Badr as a reward.

While Singh and Hashmi share a common link, there similarity ends there. Singh, an IPS officer of the 1990 batch, was promoted to additional commissioner of police two years ago and transferred to the ATS.

The Times of India, October 16, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Court turns down plea for narco test on accused

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: A desperate Malegaon police, yet to nab the culprits responsible for the recent blasts in the city, conducted brain mapping tests on an alleged member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Bangalore. However, the Malegaon court on Wednesday turned down the police plea seeking permission to conduct narco analysis and other scientific tests, sources said.

The accused, Noorul Huda (23), was arrested for his alleged association with SIMI on October 10. He was the first person in state to be booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Huda, a powerloom labourer, was not a new catch for the police. Sources said whenever there was tension in the powerloom town, the police would detain him for several days.

A bomb planted on a cycle at Mushawerat Chowk and three bombs planted inside the Bada Qabrastan went off on September 8, killing 38 and injuring 297 others. Over 650 suspects were questioned but no arrests were made.

Soon after the 7/11 train bombings in Mumbai, Huda was picked up from Malegaon and detained for several days. He was even paraded before top cops of the Mumbai crime

branch. The police questioned him and released him after it was established that he had no role to play in the blasts.

Meanwhile, his friend from Malegaon, Shabbir Masiullah (36), was picked up by the crime branch and arrested in Mumbai for his alleged link with SIMI. Masiullah is also accused of going to Pakistan for training two years ago.

Huda’s lawyer Azeem Khan said, “The court rejected the police’s plea to conduct the forensic tests and said the police cannot interrogate Huda for another case when he is arrested in an UAPA case. Huda was attached to the SIMI but he stopped all activities after it was banned. Now, the police is saying that Masiullah who has been arrested in Mumbai was close to Huda and they want to find out the relationship and its nature in the brain mapping test,’’ Khan said.

“The police claimed to have seized some religious books from Huda’s residence but it does not prove his involvement in the blast,’’ he added.

Rajvardhan, SP, Nashik (rural), said, “Huda had earlier told us that he had left SIMI but we have evidence that he was affiliated with SIMI. We want to find out something about him and Masiullah.’’

The Times of India, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Seized RDX-TNT was stolen from military

THAT FATEFUL DAY: Chemical analysis of the site of the Malegaon blasts indicated use of RDX in all the four bombs that went off

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The 195 kg mixture of RDX and TNT powder that police had seized from an Ahmednagar scrap dealer’s godown last month had been stolen from a military cantonment in the same town, investigators have revealed.

“The military had kept the shells aside to be sold as scrap in the cantonment, from where they were stolen,’’ said additional superintendent of police, Mahesh Patil, who holds additional charge in Ahmednagar.

The police had seized 113 stolen shells and the 195 kg of RDX-TNT mixture from scrap dealer Shankar Shelke’s godown in Ahmednagar on September 4. It is thought that Shelke was in the business of breaking open stolen shells, taking out the powder, and then selling the shells as scrap, an investigator said. The powder would then be discarded, said police, who refused to
comment on whether it would have been potent enough to cause an explosion.

A chemical analysis report on the powder has been submitted to the court, a police officer said, refusing to divulge even the percentage of RDX and TNT in the mixture.

“Soon after the seizure, Shelke disappeared and was listed as wanted,’’ a police officer said. Shelke was found dead on September 9, a day after the Malegaon serial blasts that killed 38 people and injured 297 others, a source said.

A post-mortem report revealed that Shelke, 50, had died from consuming poison and his death was listed as a suicide, police said. “It seems that Shelke was scared of being arrested when he realised how serious the crime was. After he committed suicide, we arrested his cousin, Ambadas Shelke, 49, who was also aware of Shelke’s business,’’ said Patil.

Patil said the court has per
mitted the police to conduct a brain-mapping test on Ambadas for which arrangements are being worked out with the Bangalore forensics laboratory. Ambadas has been sent to magistrate’s custody.

The police are surprised as to how Shelke could have stolen the shells despite the
tight security at the military cantonment. Investigations are on to find out as to who bought the scrap from Shelke.

Patil said that on the basis of Shelke’s mobile phone records, the police have arrested two more persons—scrap dealer Bhanpurwal Kozam Isa, 35, a resident of
Chor Bazaar near J J Marg in Mumbai, and Shankar Nana Gaikwad, 25, a resident of Ahmednagar. Gaikwad was employed at Shelke’s shop.

The police are also probing the origins of the poison that killed Shelke. The phone records of the Shelkes and two other people are being investi
gated. “We have written to the military authorities informing them about the seizure. Samples of the powder will also be examined at a military laboratory,’’ added Patil.

Police sources said there is a possibility of the accused being handed over to the Malegaon police for investigations into the Malegaon blasts as RDX was used in those explosions.

Rajvardhan, superintendent of police, Nashik (rural), who is heading the Malegaon investigations, said, “The matter is under investigation. I don’t want to comment.’’

Ever since the news of the seizure has come to light, residents of Malegaon have been demanding that a thorough probe of the matter be done. Though the police investigating Malegaon blasts are tightlipped about the investigations, the residents suspect that the RDX-TNT haul from Ahmednagar could help nab the Malegaon blasts accused.

The Times of India, October 12,2006

Monday, October 9, 2006

Lashkar suspect trail leads to Faisal Shaikh

By Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Some months ago, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had launched a search in the city for a Lashkare-Taiba (LeT) operative named Abu Ameen. They had little to go by except for a sketchy physical description—Ameen was believed to prefer a kurta and jeans—and a tip-off that he preferred to use public transport buses. The suspect, however, proved elusive.

In the wake of the 7/11 attacks, investigating agencies have concluded that Abu Ameen was none other than one of the masterminds of the serial train blasts, Faisal Shaikh, who is now in custody. The search for Ameen during May and June this year had thrown up a blank because the man had cleverly covered his tracks while building his network in Mumbai.

Faisal Shaikh had chosen to remain clean-shaven and dressed in trendy outfits in a bid to look the part of an average young urbanite. His function as the Lashkar’s key agent for handpicking youths for training in the use of arms and ex
plosives was seemingly at odds with his lifestyle: Shaikh took to wearing jeans, T-shirts, sneakers and Ray-Ban sunglasses. He sported shoulder-length hair and rode a Pulsar motorcycle. He would also smoke expensive brands of cigarettes.

When Faisal wanted to speak to a recruit, he would give him a missed call from a specific PCO and the recruit would then visit a predetermined PCO phone booth where

Faisal would call him up and convey instructions, sources said.

He had chosen the moniker Abu Ameen in Delhi to throw the police off his tracks. The name first cropped up during the interrogation of two LeT suspects, Mohammed Chipa and Feroz Ghaswala, both arrested by the special cell of the New Delhi police for carrying firearms and ammunition. The duo was also suspected to be involved in Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar bomb blasts last Diwali.

According to sources, the duo
told the Delhi police that they were sent to Pakistan by one Abu Ameen. They said he was a resident of Mumbai and was in charge of sending youths to Pakistan for training. The two accused told the IB sleuths that Abu Ameen had sent many youths from Mumbai for training. Neither had his telephone numbers or his residential address. “Whenever Abu Ameen needed to, he would contact us,’’ the duo told the police.

Chipa and Ghaswala had also met LeT’s commander Azam Cheema alias Baba at a training camp for militants in Bahwalpur. Baba, a professor of Islamic studies in Faislabad, was the chief of the LeT’s training wing. Following their arrests, officers of the special cell had visited Mumbai and met the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) here to exchange notes. The case of the suspect named Abu Ameen was also raised. A description was sent to the intelligence agencies and local crime branch units. But until the blasts, Ameen remained elusive.

MALEGAON BLASTS Probe in final stage: Dy CM
Nashik: Investigation into Malegaon’s bomb blasts, that claimed 31 lives and injured over 200 on September 8, are in the final stage and going on in a proper direction, deputy chief minister R R Patil said on Sunday. However, Patil, who is also the home minister, declined to share any details of the probe being carried out by the local police with the help of central intelligence agencies. “We will bring out the truth behind the multiple blasts soon,’’ Patil told reporters here.
Patil also announced that soon a London police team would arrive in Mumbai to share
the details of the probe into the July 11 train blasts, which the ATS has claimed to have cracked. The British capital’s transportation system was targeted in terror attacks on July 7 last year.
Lauding the role of the state police in maintaining law and order despite being short of manpower and equipment, Patil said the government was seriously thinking of increasing the salaries of police personnel. AGENCIES

The Times of India, October 9, 2006

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Faisal sent Delhi blasts accused to Pak too

Inspector Jayant Hargude was the first to nab the prime suspects

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A little-known fact about the 7/11 blasts is that the men behind it had links with the perpetrators of the Sarojini Nagar blasts in New Delhi during last Diwali.

Faisal Shaikh, the LeT’s pointman in Mumbai, who has been arrested for the 7/11 blasts, had sent Mohammed Chipa and Feroz Ghaswala—arrested in May this year in connection with the Sarojini Nagar blasts—for training to Pakistan.

Senior inspector Jayant Hargude, who heads crime branch unit-II, said: “After the arrests of Chipa and Ghaswala, names of several persons from Mumbai came to light and we started inquiring about the suspects. We came to know that Ghaswala used to meet one Feroz Deshmukh at Dongri.

Deshmukh, a librarian with the Islamic Research Foundation at Dongri, was called for interrogation and admitted his association with Rahil Shaikh, an accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case, who fled his Grant Road residence on May 8. “Rahil, a passport agent, had sent Chipa and Ghaswala for training in Pakistan,’’ Hargude said. Deshmukh was asked to chat with Rahil on the internet. “While chatting, Rahil said he didn’t want to come to India as he feared he would be caught and jailed for 10 years,’’ he added. Further analysis of his IP address revealed that he was in Bangladesh.

Ghaswala and Chipa, residents of Mahim (Mumbai) and Ahmedabad respectively, were arrested in May by a special cell of the Delhi police at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. Both had allegedly planned to target Kandla Port in Gujarat. From Chipa’s hideout, the Delhi police recovered two AK-56 rifles, six magazines and 179 live cartridges, 10 hand grenades, five kg of PETN explosive, three litres of nitric acid, one litre of glycerine, three kg of urea, a com
puter and a satellite phone. The computer contained information on bomb configuration circuits.

Hargude added Noman Shaikh (25), a cousin of Faisal, was already on the crime unit’s radar for his alleged association with SIMI. Noman was also picked up. “During interrogation, he said his cousin Faisal had given him an offer for training at a Pakistan camp but he refused. We reached Faisal’s rented flat at Bandra around 3.30 am. He was watching news about the bomb blasts and was shocked to see us,’’ added Hargude.

Faisal’s younger brother, Muzammil, who posed as a software developer, was picked up and he revealed about Pune-based Sohail Shaikh and key maker Zameer Shaikh. The duo were picked up and
they also admitted to their visits to Pakistan, police sources said. Zameer told the police he would regularly meet Unani Dr Tanvir Ansari at Ahiya library at Grant Road. Dr Ansari was also called for questioning. The next day, ATS produced three persons, Kamal Ahmed, Mumtaz Chaudhuri and Khalid Shaikh, in court and claimed its first arrest in the case.

Dr Tanvir was formally shown arrested on July 23. Sohail also admitted that Faisal had sent him to Pakistan for training. Faisal reportedly told the police that Rahil would bring new recruits, prepare their passports and later Faisal would send them to Pakistan via Iran for training. However, the police have ruled out Rahil’s involvement in the 7/11 case.


All Pakistanis in 7/11 identified
Mumbai
: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) probing the 7/11 train bombing case has identified all the 11 Pakistanis who executed the blasts.
While Saleem, a resident of Lahore, could not get down from the local train after planting the bomb and was killed, another Pakistani, Mohammed Ali alias Abu Osama alias Omaid, was shot down by the ATS in a deserted Antop Hill building on August 22. The police had recovered firearms and RDX from him. One of the Pakistanis, Ehsanullah, is known to have brought 15-20 kg RDX from Pakistan and manufactured the seven bombs. The remaining seven Pakistanis have now been identified as Abu Bakar, Hafeezullah, Abu Obaidin alias Abu, Amanullah, Saeed Khan, Ammu Jaan and Riyaz.

The Times of India, October 7, 2006

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Engineer had been on wanted list since 2001

IN THE NET: Asif Khan was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the 7/11 blasts

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Civil engineer Asif Bashir Khan alias Junaid, who was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the 7/11 blasts, was wanted by the police since 2001 after a pipe bomb went off in Jalgaon. He was accused of bomb making and waging war against nation in the case.

A civil engineer from a college in Jalgaon, Junaid (35), was said to be an active member of banned organisation Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). “Junaid would participate in the secret meetings of the organisation even after it was banned. He was in the police list since a long time,’’ said one of his interrogators.


According to the police, Junaid had visited Mumbai several times before the blasts and had also participated in the conspiracy which was explained to the Indian bombers at Govandi and Bandra.

Like the 12 others arrested in the case, Junaid too is accused of going to Pakistan for terror training where he was trained in bomb making, operating firearms and handling sophisticated weapons, the police said. He has been remanded to custody till October 13.


“Junaid was caught from Ashok Nagar area in Belgaum. He has a wife and two sons. Junaid, who is said to be a SIMI office bearer, was also wanted in several criminal cases including that of waging war against nation registered against him in Jalgaon five years back,’’ said an ATS source. However, the police are yet to ascertain his role in the blasts.

Junaid, who was employed with a big developer in the city, would take care of the construction activities of his employer. He was shown as an accused in the 7/11 case two
weeks ago when the police had invoked MCOCA in the case.

Junaid, police sources said, was in the city on the fateful day and was part of the terror plot which shook Mumbai. He had accompanied a Pakistani on July 11 and boarded a local train at Churchgate to plant the bomb.

The police said that two bombers are still at large and refused to divulge information about them.

The police has so far arrested five Indian bombers who were accompanied by Pakistanis in the form of different groups, the police said.

The Times of India, October 5, 2006

‘Bomber was not trained’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Ehtesham Siddiqui, one of the alleged bomb planters in the 7/11 blasts never underwent terror training, unlike his accomplices. He feared that he would be arrested by police if he went across the border. However, he wanted to do something “big’’.

First arrested for unlawful activities during his secondyear mechanical engineering course, Ehtesham had made up his mind to join the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Ehtesham, who originally belongs to Azamgarh district in UP, got admission at Narayan Nagu Patil engineering college at Pen in Raigarh. His father, Qutubuddin, a moulder in a Gulf factory, bought a flat in Mira Road five years ago.


After his arrest, Ehtesham quit his education and headed for Mumbai. Later, he enrolled himself in a Mumbai college but never attended classes. He would stay at Saifya Manzil along with his friend, Danish Reyaz, a sub-editor with an Urdu newspaper. Reyaz was arrested this July for his alleged
association with SIMI. Ehtesham was first arrested on July 28 on charges of his association with SIMI and was booked for the serial train blasts 14 days later.

Ehtesham met Faisal, who also stayed in Mira Road, for the first time in Mumbai. Faisal, who has been termed as the western India commander of LeT, introduced himself as a printer. During interrogation, Ehtesham told the police that Faisal had given him Rs 25,000 to publish these books.“Though Faisal sent misguided youths

for training at Pakistan’s Bahawalpur camp organised by LeT, Ehtesham did not dare to go for training. He was afraid of being arrested again,’’ said an officer who had questioned the accused in custody.

Ehtesham told the police Faisal had offered to bear his training expenses in Pakistan, but he refused as he feared that his name would be listed in police records again. He is accused of planting a bomb in a local train which went off near Mira Road station.

The Times of India, October 8, 2006

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

This firm takes circular route to nab good cops

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: For policemen fed up with long working hours, a poor salary and tyrannical bosses, there’s hope. The police commissionerate recently placed a message in an inter-departmental circular seeking personnel with detection and interrogation skills and knowledge of sophisticated weapons to work for a private firm. The message read, “Excellent re-employment opportunity of a lifetime,’’ and went on to state that shortlisted candidates could act as security personnel at exhibitions and events.

In case you are wondering why officials are helping an outside agency recruit policemen, here’s the catch. The department is helping its own retired personnel to find new jobs. The notice is merely being used to spread the word among former policemen about potential employment opportunities in the city.

The ad states that ‘age is no
bar’ for the candidates and even retired personnel can apply. It appeared on September 25 in the daily notice, an intra-department circular informing personnel about new recruits and transfers.

Police commissioner A N Roy said, “Many retired policemen approach us for jobs and it becomes difficult to find good opportunities for them. Retired officers are generally not in touch with the department and this ad will help them to get details from serving policemen about the various jobs
they are eligible for.’’

TOI contacted one of the two mobile numbers given in the circular, and spoke to an employee of the security firm. The man identified himself as ‘Mahindra’ but refused to disclose the name of his agency or its area of specialisation.He, however, confirmed that the agency had asked for people in the police circular.

“Our company will recruit enthusiastic candidates as per their skills. They will be given jobs as per their calibre. It’s neither a security agency nor a police job. Sometime the candidates will have to make surveys and prepare their reports on a given topic, issue or area,’’ Mahindra said.

He added that the firm’s identity and activities would be explained “when a candidate comes and discusses with us personally.’’

He said the firm would provide jobs especially to those who have retired from the department or are on the verge of retirement.

OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME

The Times of India, October 4, 2006

Bomber eyed Nepal for terror shop

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Ehtesham Siddiqui, charged with playing a significant role in the serial blasts on Mumbai’s trains this July, planned to buy land in Nepal which would have been used as a weapons-training centre.

Siddiqui visited Nepal a couple of times last year to start the terror-training camp, officials probing the blasts told TOI.

Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials, probing the serial blasts, said interrogations were giving them more information daily about the terror plot that killed 188 people in Mumbai’s local trains on July 11.

Siddiqui, who published Islamic texts and sold them for a commission, was caught on July 28 in connection with the bomb blasts. “He admitted during the interrogation that he went to Nepal last year a couple of times to meet one of his associates. Their plan was to conduct a survey to buy a plot of land to
start a training centre,’’ ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi said on Tuesday.

Raghuvanshi, however, refused to say whether Siddiqui’s associate was an Indian national. The training centre could have been a point for indoctrinating youth, officials said, but admitted it was not clear who was to pay for that land. The Indo-Nepal border has been used in the past by Pakistan-trained
militants infiltrate into India and spread terror here. Officials claimed that Siddiqui’s confession, about his Nepal visits and alleged association with terror outfits, would help them in the course ofinvestigation but — at the same time — they admitted that they they did not have too much of tangible evidence to prove all of it in court.

Siddiqui (whose family stays in Uttar Pradesh) would stay at Saifya Manzil in the
Mira Road area, on the outskirts of Mumbai, along with Danish Reyaz. Siddiqui was initially arrested for his alleged links with the now-banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) before being booked in the blasts case; Reyaz was also arrested by the ATS for his alleged SIMI links.

Reyaz worked with a media publication in the city and Siddiqui would publish religious books, allegedly funded by co-conspirator in the case Faisal Shaikh.

Siddiqui was also accused of providing shelter to the Pakistani bombers who had brought the explosives into India and manufactured the bombs. Officials said he had arranged rented rooms at Mumbra for the Pakistanis and participated in the bombmaking operation at Mohammad Ali’s Govandi home. “A Pakistani, Sohail Shaikh, had manufactured the bomb and then it was handed over to seven teams comprising an Indian and a Pakistani each,’’ an official said.

The Times of India, October 4, 2006

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

3 of 15 arrested may be released

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is planning to release Mumtaz Maqbool Chaudhuri, an Arabic teacher from Ghansoli in Navi Mumbai, and Khalid Shaikh, a friend of prime accused Kamal Ahmed, who were arrested in connection with the 7/11 blasts. The squad also plans to release a Kashmiri youth, Akmal Hashmi, an alleged militant.

Police commissioner A N Roy hinted that the three would be released since there is no evidence of their involvement in the blasts. Roy, who was speaking to the
media on Saturday, said three of the 15 arrested would be released if no other evidence crops up against them.

Chaudhuri hails from Madhubani district in Bihar and is the brother-in-law of Kamal Ahmed, who is among those who allegedly planted the bombs. The police said that while monitoring phone calls they learnt that several calls were made to border areas in Nepal from Navi Mumbai. They arrested Chaudhuri, who lives in Navi Mumbai,
on suspicion.

Khalid Shaikh, the other accused in the case who may be released, also belongs to Bihar and is said to be Kamal’s friend. The third is Akmal Hashmi, a former Pakistani soldier, who was brought to Mumbai and arrested in the case on September 3. He had quit the Pakistan army and allegedly joined Al-Badr, a terror outfit, and soon rose to become its divisional commander. He was caught on August 23 by the Kashmir police in the Kulgam area of the state. Hashmi will
be handed over to the Kashmir police once he is discharged from the
7/11 case.

TOI was the first to report about Hashmi and his statement to the police that he had heard from a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant about the conspiracy.

He had also told the police that the only unclaimed body in a Mumbai hospital was that of an LeT operative, Abu Janar, who was one of the 17 bombers in the train blast cases. The anti-terrorism squad then got his custody on a transit remand and brought him from Kashmir.
However, there is no evidence linking either Hashmi or the other two directly to the blasts.

The Times of India, October 3, 2006

A bomber’s journey from Pak to India

fter His Training Across The Border, Accused Faisal Shaikh Got Himself Deported From Saudi To Reach Mumbai Again


Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: It was in 2004 that Faisal Shaikh, the alleged bomber responsible for the explosion on a local train at Jogeshwari railway station on July 11 first found his way into police records.
Shaikh was deported from Saudi Arabia in 2004 for ‘illegal stay’ and his arrival in Mumbai was recorded by the police.

Faisal had gone to Saudi Arabia and after a three-day stay left for Pakistan’s Bahawalpur camp
for training in 2004. “I didn’t want to come to India and wanted to stay in Pakistan and prove my allegiance to Muslims. But my trainers told me that if I wanted to prove my loyalty then I should go back to India and avenge the killing of Muslims in hundreds of riots across India,’’ Faisal is believed to have told the police after his arrest on July 28, 2006.
After completing the six-monthlong training, he returned to Saudi Arabia where he stayed in a threestar hotel. However, he was scared of returning to India since a Pakistan visa was stamped on his passport, proving his visit there. On advice from a friend, Faisal burnt his passport and approached a local police station in Jeddah where he complained that his passport was missing.

The police realised that he had destroyed his passport and was staying there illegally. He was arrested. The Saudi police sends a list of all the arrested accused to
the concerned embassies every week. A delegation from the embassies, including the Indian embassy, also visits such jails once or twice month to ascertain facts.

If the arrested persons are not involved in any crime in Saudi Arabia, they are deported to their respective countries, said a source. Faisal had used the same modus operandi to come back to India.

“He was deported and the police did not suspect that the deported man was a trained Lashkar-e-Taiba operative,’’ said police commissioner A N Roy.

Faisal’s father Ataur Rehman worked as an automobile mechanic in the Gulf and returned in 1996. Faisal studied in a Malegaon school and completed his higher secondary education from Maharashtra College at Mumbai Central.

Later, he along with his parents moved to Pune in 1996 after they sold their Temkar street room at Nagpada. In Pune, he befriended Sohail Shaikh, who has also been arrested by the police in the case. In 2001, the Shaikhs returned to Mumbai and bought a huge flat in Mira Road, police sources said.

Faisal’s eldest brother Raheel went to London and works in a multi-national company. After an argument with his family members, Faisal left home and stayed alone in different places alone, the last being at Bandra.

Faisal first visited a training camp in Pakistan in 2002. However, the police is yet to find out who had sent Faisal for the training in 2002 through the Wagah border.

“He is tightlipped and doesn’t say anything about the middle man,’’ a senior officer said. After returning from training, he also sent his younger brother Muzammil and friends Zameer Shaikh, Dr Tanvir and Pune-based Sohail Shaikh there, sources said.

The Times of India, October 3, 2006

Monday, October 2, 2006

Bombs to avenge Bhiwandi firing, accused boasted

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Ehtesham Siddiqui, general secretary of the Maharashtra unit of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, who is accused of planting the bomb that exploded as the train approached Mira Road station, had told a friend on the day of the blasts to send an e-mail to a Hindi news channel informing them that bombs would be the retaliation to the police firing at Bhiwandi where two Muslims were killed.

On July 3, police had opened fire in Bhiwandi, a town 50 km from Mumbai, after a mob opposing the construction of a po
lice station at a site they claimed reserved for a burial ground turned violent.

The police discount this as being the reason. According to them, Ehtesham was blindly doing the bidding of his masters in Pakistan. He was not told of the reason behind targeting Mumbai’s trains.

A resident of Mira Road, Ehtesham, a small-time publisher of Islamic literature, revealed this during interrogation. He said that on the morning of July 11, he met a friend in Mira Road.

Ehtesham told this friend that the retaliation for the death of two persons killed on July 5 at Bhiwandi would be taken in
Mumbai. He also told his friend to send an e-mail to a Hindi news channel giving this information. The identity of Ehtesham’s friend has not been revealed. However, the friend did not take it seriously and went home.

Ehtesham (30), a short, mildmannered man, went home after planting the bomb, took a shower and went back to the site of the Mira Road blast with a friend. However, the police had cordoned off the site and Ehtesham returned home to Saifya Manzil at Naya Nagar to watch the news on TV.

Ehtesham’s friend, who had taken his instruction to e-mail the news channel lightly, was shocked when he heard about the blasts. He asked Ehtesham if he knew about the blasts but the latter merely smiled and walked away.

Ehtesham in his statement said Faisal had promised him Rs 5 lakh for planting the bomb. “Faisal told me he would pay Rs 1 lakh on the day of the blast and Rs 4 lakh the next week. Before boarding the train to plant the bombs, Faisal told me we would meet in heaven (if we died). If not, he would pay me the promised sum,’’ Ehtesham told police.

Ehtesham, who is said to be an operative of militant organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed, was offered terror training by Faisal whom the police term LeT’s western India commander. But, Ehtesham turned down the offer saying his organisation would send him for training. Ehtesham in his statement told the police that this module had fixed the blasts date on July 5.

“Ehtesham confessed he was aware about the terror plot and even arranged the accommodation of Pakistanis at Mumbra. But he has not confessed that he planted the bomb,’’ said police.

The Times of India, October 2, 2006

Sunday, October 1, 2006

CASH FOR BLOOD : Money made terror speak

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: A hawala transaction spanning Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and India led the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to suspect and later establish the Pakistani connection in the blasts that killed 188 people on Mumbai’s trains on July 11.

The hawala money, the police believe, was used to fund the bombings. The prime accused, Faisal Shaikh, received Rs 60 lakh over the last five years through hawala, officials said.


Faisal, a class-XII drop-out who resided in the Mira Road area on the outskirts of Mumbai, is believed to be the western India commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). He was arrested along with software engineer brother Muzammil Shaikh. Faisal told the police that he had an “export-import’’ business but crime branch officials, who picked him up, said the “small business’’ was only a front for routing hawala money for terror causes. “We now know that he received hawala-routed money to recruit youth and send them for terror training,’’ an officer, who questioned Faisal, said.

The police is likely to issue a
red-corner notice against Rizwan Dawre, an Indian now based in Saudi Arabia and working with a multi-national company there. Dawre is supposed to have routed money, sent by Pakistan-based terror mastermind Azeem Cheema, to Faisal in Mumbai.

The ATS in August claimed to have seized 37,000 riyals (Rs 4.81 lakh) from Faisal’s residence. “We have evidence that this money was routed from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia and then to India for use in anti-national acitivities,’’ ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi had said.

Interrogators had also said Faisal, in charge of sending new recruits to Pakistan, would receive around Rs 10 lakh-Rs 12 lakh a year.

Officials said Cheema would send money whenever new recruits would get ready to fly abroad for training. The crime branch had also questioned Faisal’s cousin, Shahida Shaikh (50), a headmistress with a school in Mumbai, in connection with the hawala money. Officials alleged Shahida had received money on behalf of Faisal but later gave her a clean chit. Investigators also said that Faisal would also pay the mobile bills of new recruits and arrange air tickets and visas for visits to the terror camp in Bhawalpur. Faisal himself visited Pakistan twice in 2004 and 2005 for training and stayed there for six months each time.

Officers also said Pune resident Sohail Shaikh, arrested on July 25, revealed he was given the job to find out names, addresses and current postings of hundreds of policemen who were deployed during the Gujarat riots but did not stop them.

The Times of India, October 1, 2006