Tuesday, March 17, 2009

‘11 Pakistanis, SIMI behind blasts’

Eleven Pakistanis sneaked into India in March, 2006 to plan and execute the train blasts, A N Roy, then city police commissioner, had said in September 2006. While nine fled the country, the tenth, Salim, was killed in the blast at Mahim as he probably could not get off the train in time, Roy said. The eleventh, Mohammed Ali alias Abu Osama, was killed in an encounter with the ATS at Antop Hill.

The plot’s ambit extended up to Bangladesh and Nepal and was executed by Pak-based Lashkar-e-Taiba with help of Jaish-e-Mohammed and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The operation had the stamp of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he had said.


ATS investigations, with inputs from the Intelligence Bureau,found the Pakistanis came to Mumbai in three groups through Nepal,Bangladesh and the Gujarat.

In Mumbai, the Pakistanis stayed in rented apartments in Borivli (E), Malad, Bandra (W) and Mumbra, and 15 to 20 kg of RDX was brought by Ehsanullah, a Pakistani national. The bombs were assembled at Mohammed Ali’s house in Shivajinagar slum in Govandi and stored in a room rented by Faisal Shaikh on Perry Cross Road in Bandra (W).

On July 11, seven teams, each with one Pakistani, took taxis to Churchgate station, placed the bombs in trains and got down.


TRAIN TRAGEDY
Date: July 11, 2006 Number of blasts in trains: 7 Total killed: 188 Total injured: 817 Property loss: Rs 27 crore Total arrested: 13 SIMI members Pakistanis involved: 11 Pakistanis killed: 2 (one in the blast and another in encounter)
Accused lodged at jails in: Thane, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri
Investigating agency: ATS

The Times of India, March 17, 2009

Govandi the bomb-makers’ den, says ATS

ROOM FOR SUSPICION: Mohammed Ali’s family in their Govandi flat where the ATS alleged the 11/7 bombs were assembled

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The ATS, which had arrested 13 SIMI members in 2006 for their alleged role in the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts, pointed to a flat in Govandi as the birthplace of the bombs that ripped apart Mumbai’s suburban trains. According to then-city police commissioner A N Roy, around 20 kg of RDX was smuggled into India by Ehsanullah, and 10 other Pakistanis in March 2006 through West Bengal, Gujarat and Nepal. The ATS claimed they stayed in rented rooms in Mumbra, Matunga and Mira Road prior to the blasts.

The Indian accused with the help of the Pakistanis, manufactured the bombs at a 100 sq ft room in Govandi. The ATS had said 18 persons were present in the room when the bombs were being assembled. The bombs were then transported to prime accused Faisal Shaikh’s rented flat in Bandra and from there they
were taken to Churchgate in seven taxis. Each pair had an Indian and a Pakistani, said the ATS. Faisal was termed as the Western Indian commander of the Pakistan-backed Lashkare-Taiba. The accused planted bombs in seven trains and got down but one Pakistani, Saleem, could not get off and was killed in the blast. Another Pakistani, Omaid alias Osama, who was part of this operation, was killed in an encounter by the ATS on August 22, 2006.

The Govandi flat was owned by Mohammed Ali. His younger and elder brothers’ families — 14 members in all — stay in the 100 sq ft room which has a small mezzanine floor as well. The flat was purchased by Ali’s father around 25 years ago.

The Times of India, March 17, 2009

‘NO IM HAND IN TRAIN BLASTS’

ATS Set To Discharge Sadiq Shaikh, Move Contradicts Crime Branch

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad is likely to discharge Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Sadiq Shaikh in the July 11, 2006, train blasts case, indicating that it has not found evidence to believe that the IM was responsible for the blasts. The move may however leave the city crime branch, which has been claiming otherwise, red-faced.

The city crime branch, in September and October last year, arrested 21 persons claiming they were IM members and stated that during interrogations, Sadiq revealed his involvement in the blasts. This came as a shock to the ATS
since it had arrested 13 suspected SIMI members in the case and filed a 11,000-page chargesheet against them.

It is learnt that the ATS, which questioned Sadiq for over two weeks recently, was not convinced with the crime branch’s theory. An ATS officer said Sadiq made contradictory statements — sometimes he said his group was involved and at others he said he gave the statement under pressure.

“We arrested him on February 28 in the train blast case and questioned him. However, there is no evidence to link him with the blasts. We will soon file a report in court asking for Sadiq to be discharged in this case,’’ an ATS officer said.

A news channel had recently aired a CD containing Sadiq’s confessional statement on the train blasts. However, the ATS has rubished all these claims, and plans to discharge Sadiq in the particular case.

In its March 8 edition, TOI had reported that during a polygraph test Sadiq told forensic experts that he had lied about the outfit’s involvement in the train blasts. This brought a new twist to the tale as Sadiq till then had told the Mumbai crime branch, the Ahmedabad police and the Delhi police, that he and his accomplices engineered the explosions.

The state forensic science laboratory on Saturday sent a brain mapping and polygraph test report to the ATS saying as per the tests he was not involved in the train blasts and that he had lied during interrogations conducted by other agencies.

The crime branch had claimed that the bombs for the blasts were manufactured in a Sewree flat and the RDX was procured by a wanted accused, Riyaz Bhatkal. However, the ATS is sticking to its old theory that the bombs were assembled at a 100 sq ft flat in Govandi and not at Sewree. Moreover, the ATS said that the RDX was procured by a Pakistani, Ehsanullah, who had illegally entered India along with 10 other Pakistani accomplices.


THE ROAD AHEAD

Even if Sadiq Shaikh is discharged by the ATS in connection with the 11/7 train blasts, he will not be a free man. Sadiq faces several cases across the country. He has been booked in the Ahmedabad 2008 serial blasts and for his role in the unexploded bombs found in Surat, and blasts in Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faizabad and Jaipur. Sadiq’s family said he was not in Mumbai at the time of the July 11 blasts but in Uttar Pradesh. He faces trials in all the other cases across the country.
Sadiq is one of the 21 suspected IM members arrested by the Mumbai crime branch for their alleged role in sending threatening emails claiming responsiblity for the Delhi blasts. He also faces two cases of hacking andcriminal intimidation in Mumbai.


LIFE STORY
NAME: Sadiq Israr Shaikh (31)
RESIDENT OF:
Cheetah Camp, Trombay
EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS: Passed Class X Did a two-year diploma course in repairing air-conditioners Six-month certificate course in computers
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Worked for sometime at Godrej When arrested, was working with CMS Company, at MIDC, Andheri
FAMILY MEMBERS: Parents, four brothers, wife and three children


CHARGESHEET
Sadiq is believed to be a co-founder of Indian Mujahideen Is accused in two hacking cases and sending threat emails after the Delhi blasts He is said to be a conspirator in the 11/7 blasts He had told the Crime Branch that the bombs used in the train blasts were made in a flat at Sewree He said no Pakistani was involved in the bomb making Sadiq said his absconding mentor, Riyaz Bhatkal, had procured the RDX for the bombs Sadiq said he planted bombs in three Mumbai local trains Sadiq is said to be a conspirator in the Ahmedabad blasts, Delhi blasts, Faizabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and Jaipur blasts Sadiq and his 20 associates are accused of blasts in Jaipur (about 80 dead), Ahmedabad (55 dead), Delhi (30 dead), Faizabad, Varanasi and Lucknow


ARRESTED BY THE CRIME BRANCH ON: September 17, 2008
ALIBI: Family says he was in Uttar Pradesh when 11/7 BLASTS took place

The Times of India, March 17, 2009

Sewree’s the spot, claims Crime Branch

ROOM FOR CONTENTION: The Sewree flat where the crime branch says the IM made the bombs for the train blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Sadiq told the crime branch that IM members assembled the 11/7 bombs at Flat No 509, Raza Tower, Sewree Cross Road. He said that the entire conspiracy was hatched by Indian Mujahideen mentor Riyaz Bhatkal in the 250 sq ft flat in Sewree. The flat was rented by one Abu Rashid, who is still absconding.

When TOI visited the flat, the door was locked and a neighbour said some youths, employed in various places, were staying there. “I don’t know any Abu Rashid. These boys have been staying in this flat for the last three to four years,’’ the neighbour informed. There are nine flats on each floor in the nine-storey Raza Tower, which has come up in place of a chawl.

Sadiq said four days prior to the blasts, Bhatkal transported a huge quantity of explosives (ammonium nitrate, gelatin sticks, nails, ball bearings and some chemicals) to the flat. Arif, an electrician, had assembled the circuits at his Cheetah Camp house and brought them to the flat two days before the blasts. Sadiq said on the night of July 5-6, arrested accused Mohammed Saif, his brother Dr Shanawaz Khan, Atif Amin, Abu Rashid, Arif Shaikh, Mohammed Sajid and Zeeshan assembled the bombs. Atif and Sajid were killed in a shootout at Delhi’s Jamia Nagar last year.

A news channel recently aired Sadiq’s
confessional statement in which he spoke about how the IM module planned, manufactured and planted bombs in Mumbai trains. Sadiq had also told Ahmedabad police that they assembled bombs at Sewree and planted them in trains. Sadiq said he had planted bombs in three trains on July 11, 2006.

The Times of India, Marach 17, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

‘No Pakistani was involved in train blasts’

Arrested suspect Sadiq Shaikh

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The alleged founder of Indian Mujahideen (IM), Sadiq Shaikh, told the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that no Pakistani was involved in manufacturing bombs that were used in July 11, 2006 train blasts in Mumbai. This contradicts ATS’ earlier theory that some Pakistanis had assembled the bombs containing RDX.

The ATS and an Intelligence Bureau (IB) team were surprised when Sadiq (31) told them that he and his associ
ates were behind the train blasts. Sadiq had told this to the crime branch when he was arrested five months ago. ATS had earlier raised doubts over Sadiq’s involvement in the 7/11 case, saying the use of “pressure cooker’’ for planting bombs was not the IM pattern.

Following a series of media reports, the ATS was forced to take him into custody on February 21. “Dr Shahnawaz (wanted suspect), Atif Ameen and Mohammed Sajid (both killed in last year’s Batla house encounter in Delhi) were part of the plot. The RDX was procured by Riyaz Bhatkal alias Roshan Jamal (wanted sus
pect). The bombs were made four days in advance in Sewri. No Pakistani was present when the bombs were manufactured,’’ Sadiq is believed to have told the ATS.

The ATS and the IB had claimed that the RDX was procured by a Pakistani, Ehasanullah, and that the bombs were manufactured with the help of Pakistanis at Govandi.

Most of the IB officials along with the ATS, who are currently questioning Sadiq, had “thoroughly questioned’’ the 7/11 suspects in 2006 be
fore “being satisfied’’ over the arrest of 13 suspected SIMI members by the ATS. During that time, neither the IB nor the other security agencies had doubted the arrests.

An ATS officer said Sadiq was
changing his statements frequently. “Sometimes, he says that he, along with Dr Shahnawaz and others, had manufactured the bombs, but changes his statement in an instant. According to him, Shahnawaz’s brother, Saif (arrested suspect), was not aware of the 7/11 conspiracy,’’ said an officer, “When Shahnawaz and Saif were aware about the Delhi blasts, how come Saif didn’t know about the train blast conspiracy.’’

The Times of India, March 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

‘Cops have made Sadiq a scapegoat’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The family of the a l l e g e d founder of Indian Mujahideen (IM), Sadiq Shaikh, firmly believes he was in Uttar Pradesh when the Mumbai train blasts took place in July 2006. The crime branch has claimed that Sadiq and his associates had planted the bombs on the trains but the anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which arrested a group of 13 persons in 2006 for the same blasts, has insisted that the IM had no role in them.

TOI visited Sadiq’s house in Cheetah Camp, Trombay, and met with some hostility from his neighbours; they said the media had blown his involvement in the case
out of proportion.

“Sadiq was married to Surayya on April 28, 2005 in Azamgarh, UP. The couple came to Mumbai in March 2007. How can the police show him as a bomb planter?’’ Sadiq’s brother, Asad, said. “His wife was pregnant in 2006. Our father was not keeping well; Sadiq stayed with them in UP.’’

Father of three daughters, Sadiq studied till Std X and then did a two-year diploma course
in repairing air-conditioners. He got a temporary job in Godrej before doing a six-month course in computer application, but was picked up on September 17, 2008 for hacking into unsecured WiFi networks and sending threatening e-mails to TV channels. “He went to office but there was no information about his whereabouts then. He SMSed us, saying he was going out for work and would be back in a couple of days, but we came to know from the media that he had been arrested. The police did not bother to inform us the charges on which they arrested my husband,’’ Surayya said.

The crime branch said the bombs used on trains were manufactured at Sewri and it was Sadiq who planted the bombs on at least three of the trains. The ATS, however, said the bombs were manufactured at Govandi. The ATS charges
heet also did not mention the suspects named by the crime branch and the two agencies are yet to agree on most points.

Sadiq and his 20 associates have been accused of executing blasts in Jaipur (about 80 dead), Ahmedabad (55 dead), Delhi (30 dead), Faizabad, Varanasi and Lucknow.

“But Sadiq was at his office in MIDC on the day of the Ahmedabad blasts. He has been wrongly implicated. The police are making him a scapegoat,’’ Sadiq’s sister in-law said.

An ATS official said Sadiq knew Mohammed Ali, the owner of the house where bombs used for 7/11 were made. “Sadiq is trying to confuse us by giving different theories. He is being questioned by the Intelligence Bureau as well,’’ the official said. The ATS may seek his custody again once his current remand gets over.

The Times of India, March 4, 2009