Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Not to question ATS men again in Malegaon probe'

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

MUMBAI: Amid reports that the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officers who investigated the 2006 Malegaon mosque blasts will be questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for not conducting the probe properly, the NIA has denied all such claims. NIA sources on Monday said the agency has already questioned the ATS officers who were part of the '06 serial blasts probe.

News reports in some regional language newspapers said the NIA will question the ATS officers who investigated the four blasts that took place on September 8, 2006. At least 31 persons were killed and 297 others injured when four bombs, planted in a residential area and within the premises of a cemetery, went off. The bombs contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite, oil fuel, shrapnel, nuts and bolts.

"We have already questioned the ATS officers who probed the case then. There is no requirement for us to question them now. How can they help us in the probe, if they didn't know who the real culprits are?" said a senior officer from the NIA.

He added that the NIA had recorded the statements of some of the officers on various points like the filing of charge sheet and the fact that chemical analysis reports were not attached with the chargesheets.

"Our investigation is currently going in the right direction. Why would we want to rely on some other organization? Our team is working hard on this case," he added. Nine suspected SIMI members were arrested by the ATS in 2006 and were released on bail in November 2011 after the NIA did not oppose their bail in court.

The NIA, while probing another terror case, allegedly found that some members of a radical right wing group were involved in the Malegaon blasts and not the nine youth caught by the ATS.

This case was probed by various agencies: first by the Malegaon local police, who handed it over to the ATS, later case transferred to the CBI, and then to another CBI team. The NIA took over the case in April last year.

The Times of India, January 31, 2012

‘Naqi was in city at time of 13/7 blasts’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations have found that Naqi Ahmed (22), arrested for aiding and abetting the 13/7 serial blasts, was in the city on July 13 last year. DNA samples from a rented room, where the suspected bombers lived, confirmed that Naqi had visited the place several times.

Anti-terrorism squad (ATS) sources said Naqi, a BCom student, was in the
city when the blasts killed 27 persons. “He was staying at his elder brother’s leather bag-making unit at Badlupura in Byculla. But he went missing from the bag unit between 11am and 7pm,” a senior official said. The three bombs went off between 6.50pm and 7pm at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar (W).

Police sources said Naqi, who came from Bihar and studied in New Delhi, had arrived three days before the blasts. “We are yet to establish if he was with the bombers that day. We have
found clinching evidence to show that he was responsible for stealing one of the two scooters used in the blasts,” the official said. The police believe that Naqi had visited Habib Apartments in Byculla, where the suspected Pakistani bombers lived for several months. “He handed over the explosives to the bombers. His aide, Nadeem Akhtar, brought the explosives from Delhi and gave them to Naqi, who handed them over to the bombers in Byculla,” he said.

Police officials were tightlipped on whether they have CCTV footage to prove that he was responsible for the scooter theft. Several shops in the area, from
where the scooter was stolen, are under CCTV surveillance. “We don’t want to disclose anything about the footage. We will tell our side of the story when we file the chargesheet,” the official added.

Police sources said that after Naqi and Nadeem stole two bikes near Grant Road and C P Tank, the vehicles were handed over to the two suspected bombers near JJ Junction. “We have recovered the helmet of one scooter and a duplicate key of the bike from the arrested accused,” the officer said.

The Times of India, January 31, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Suspect bomber from Pak joined Gawli’s gym

Blasts at Zaveri bazar, Dadar and Opera House claimed 27 lives

13/7 Trail: ATS Gets Crucial Leads On Accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the 13/7 serial blasts have revealed that one of the two suspected Pakistani bombers had enrolled himself at a gym set up by gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. The bomber, said the police, had paid three months’ fee in advance. But the officials refused to reveal his identity.

Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has seized the Shambu Narayan Trust’s gym attendance register and the admission card from which it has got the suspect’s photograph. “Someone else had introduced this person (bomber) to the gym and helped him get admission there. We have recorded the statements of the gym manager and the trainers,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria.
The bomber, suspected to be Waqqas, had paid the gym Rs 3,700, which included the admission fee and three months’ fee. The gym is located at Dagdi Chawl near Byculla station.

The police claimed to have learnt the identity of the pe
rson who had taken Waqqas to the gym but he is now reportedly absconding. “The suspected bomber joined the gym on August 10 and worked out there till the last week of October,” said Maria, adding that the bomber used to go to another gym near the Zaveri Bazar bomb blast site in the evening and worked out at the Dagdi chawl gym in the morning for two hours. “We don’t want to disclose the name that had been given to the gym. He is around 24 years old,” said Maria. The police are baffled by the suspected bomber’s motive behind joining the gym at Dagdi chawl. They are exploring if the CCTV cameras at any of the two gyms had his image.

“The bombs planted at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar did not have any shrapnel. It contained explosives like TNT and ammonium nitrate. A report on the metal used to cover the bomb is yet to come,” added Maria.

Accused Naqi Ahmed’s elder brother, Taqi, who has been summoned by the ATS for questioning has written to the ATS, saying he had not been able to book a train ticket from New Delhi. Taqi owns a leather bag shop in Delhi. “Taqi said he could not get a ticket and he was unwell. We have asked him to speak to us at the earliest,” said Maria.

Narco test on Naqi?
When asked if blast accused Naqi would be subjected to narco-analysis and brainmapping, Maria said a decision was yet to be taken. But, he added, they had concrete evidence to prove Naqi’s role in the blasts.

The Times of India, January 28, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

13/7 bomber still near city?

Cops Plan To Slap Accused With MCOCA Charges

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Security agencies in Mumbai said they are working on the premise that one of the two 13/7 bombers is still in the vicinity of the city. Local investigators said it is the overconfidence of the bomber that has kept him near Mumbai even after the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) announced it had cracked the case.

The ATS has named two men in the case as wanted accused A and B. It is felt that these two are Tabrez and Waqqas, the two Pakistanis who stayed at Habib Apartments in Byculla and who are suspected to have planted two of the three bombs.

Police sources said the Pakistani nationals’ overconfidence led them to stay in Mumbai after the July 13 blasts. Their presence wasn’t detected till six IM members were arrested in Delhi in November. However, after they escaped from Byculla, Tabrez and Waqqas must have felt they still could dodge security agencies, said a source.

While officers haven’t picked up Waqqas’s trail, they seem to have detected Tabrez in the vicinity of Mumbai. In
vestigators wouldn’t reveal why they think he is near the city, but separate sources said that Tabrez’s mobile number could have been traced. Tabrez and Waqqas left their room on the midnight of November 27. “The phone numbers they were using are switched off now. But security agencies had been working on finding their new numbers. Tabrez’s may have been detected,” said a police source.

Meanwhile, the police are also planning to invoke the
stringent Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.

Tabrez and Waqqas had reportedly stayed at Habib Apartments from February to November. Sources said it is possible that after the duo fled the city, they separated to avoid suspicion. “Tabrez planted one bomb. But, we don’t want to say whether Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar, who have been arrested in the case, were present while the bombs were assembled,” said a policeman.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria denied reports that the Dadar bomb was actually meant for Siddhivinayak temple. ATS teams sent to Bihar and other states are returning with leads, said police. The computer seized from Byculla has been sent for analysis. Investigations show some data has been deleted. The cops reportedly got phone numbers and files from the computer.

Taqi summoned, sends med reports
Dwaipayan Ghosh | TNN
New Delhi/Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria said Taqi, the brother of the arrested Naqi Ahmed, has been summoned for questioning on Friday in Mumbai. However, Taqi told sources in Delhi that two of his other brothers are already under virtual house arrest in Mumbai. “I have produced a detailed medical report stating that I cannot go to Mumbai as I am not keeping well,” Taqi told TOI in Delhi. Sources have indicated that the ATS might send a team to Shaheen Bagh in Delhi for a fresh round of questioning.

The Times of India, January 26, 2012

‘Careful police delayed Haroon’s 13/7 arrest’

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers said they had suspected Haroon Naik’s involvement in the 13/7 blasts last September, but did not book him in the case fearing other perpetrators might flee. Investigators said they wanted to nab as many accused as possible, and hence took long to make an announcement.

Naik, 32, was arrested in the first week of September in a fake currency case and sent to
jail. The police apprehended him after he landed at Mumbai airport from Jeddah in late August. “Naik is an old member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi),” said an officer. “He sent money from UAE for the blasts. We booked him for aiding the financial transactions for the blasts and the conspiracy.” Police alleged Naik also sponsored the visit of a Simi man, Asrar Tailor, to Pakistan for terror training.

“We have applied for Naik’s custody in court and are hop
ing to get him this week,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “His involvement was suspected last year itself, but we wanted to find the other accused, so did not arrest him for 13/7 then.”

“We faced criticism for the delay in cracking the case. However, we also did not want to arrest the wrong person and therefore took time to investigate and verify,” said Maria. It is learnt that the ATS may also let the arrested accused meet their families to convince them about the youths’ involvement.

The Times of India, January 26, 2012

13/7 suspects faked bikes’ docus: Police

S Ahmed Ali | TNN

Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers said the roles of 13/7 suspects Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar, arrested for allegedly helping the outlawed terror outfit Indian Mujaheedin (IM) perpetrate the serial blasts, are becoming clearer.

The ATS has allegedly stumbled on some vital evidence against Naqi and Nadeem. The Delhi police’s special cell had been using Naqi to trap IM founder member
Yasin Bhatkal and two Pakistani bomb planters. While the Delhi cops arrived in Mumbai in December along with Naqi to trap Pakistani nationals Waqqas and Tabrez, who were staying in a rented flat at Habib Apartments in Byculla, the ATS in January picked up Naqi. This scuttled the Delhi police’s plans.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said Naqi and Nadeem
helped Bhatkal and two others rent a flat, transport explosives and detonators from Delhi to Mumbai, and do recces of Zaveri Bazar and Opera House.

ATS officers said investigations showed that Naqi and Nadeem stole four two-wheelers. The first two were Honda Activa scooters (MH01-WA-3042 and MH12-CJ-6509), which were stolen from the C P Tank and Hurkisondas Hospital areas, respectively. They were used to plant bombs at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House.

A month after the blasts, Naqi and Nadeem allegedly stole two more two-wheelers—Unicorn bikes—from V P Road and Dongri. “They hid the bikes at Nadeem’s place in Madanpura, bought two second-hand bikes of the same make, used them for a month and then sold them,” said an ATS officer. “They made copies of the registration documents of the bikes they bought, used them for the stolen bikes, put new number plates on the latter and sent them to Bihar by train.”

The ATS has procured the railway receipts and duplicate copies of the bikes’ registration books, which are now evidence in the case. Maria said: “The two bikes have been seized. Some family members of Naqi and Nadeem were using them.”

“If they are innocent, then why did they steal the bikes, forge documents and send the vehicles to their native place?” argued an officer.

Cops alleged that Naqi knew that he was ferrying explosives. The police also seized receipts from a gym near Zaveri Bazar where Naqi and Waqqas had taken membership but didn’t submit photographs.

9th SIM scam arrest
Siddharth Dev | YOUNG EDITOR
The ATS, probing a SIM card racket that helped detect the 13/7 blasts case, on Tuesday arrested a 23-year-old vada pav hawker.

Shivkumar Hanumanta Mensiru, a Dadar resident, has been remanded in police custody till February 1 He is the ninth person to be arrested in the case. ATS chief Rakesh Maria said: “When ATS officers picked him up, he was carrying several fake documents. He used to work with Ganesh Tikole, an MTNL agent.”

(This young editor was accompanied by Mateen Hafeez)

The Times of India, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

13/7: Govt cools feud, backs ATS

Yasin Bhatkal: still at large

Vishwa Mohan, Mateen Hafeez, Neeraj Chauhan & Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN

New Delhi/Mumbai: The Centre on Tuesday came out in support of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) over Naqi Ahmed’s arrest in connection with the 13/7 blasts, seeking to seal an ugly feud between the country’s leading counter-terror agencies which has exposed that the costly lessons of 26/11 may not have yet been learned.

A day after sources in the Delhi police’s Special Cell, its anti-terror wing, claimed that Naqi was actually an ‘informer’ who would have led them to the founding member of the Indian Mujahideen Yasin Bhatkal and that the ATS had queered their pitch by arresting Naqi, Union home secretary R K Singh publicly defended the sta
te ATS.

“We are happy with the ATS that has cracked the case. It has come to the conclusion (of Naqi’s role) after investigation and has worked out the case based on evidence which will be put through legal procedure,” the home secretary said.

Minorities panel seeks report
T he National Commission for Minorities has sought a report from the state government on the arrest of 13/7 accused Naqi Ahmed. Naqi’s brother had met NCM chief Wajahat Habibullah and submitted a plea saying he had been wrongly arrested by the ATS. P 12

13/7 blasts probe may turn into a political football

Asked about the claim attributed to sources in the Delhi police’s Special Cell, the Union home secretary said, “It is true that IB and Delhi police
were running an operation where he (Naqi) was the informer. But the fact that he was an informer in a particular operation does not preclude the fact that he could have been or was involved in the bomb blast.”

Singh’s remarks came after the squabbling between the Special Cell and the Maharashtra ATS over Naqi’s alleged complicity in 13/7, with the former accusing the ATS of not only arresting an informer but also damaging the operation to nab Yasin Bhatkal. Sources in IB rebutted the perception that they have expressed doubts over ATS’s investigations leading to the arrests of Naqi and Nadeem Akhtar, who hailed from the same village.

Stung by the accusation, ATS sources hit back on Tuesday, daring their Delhi counterparts to follow through on their assertion about Naqi’s innocence by moving a court in Mumbai. The public bloodletting has brought out in stark relief the continuing lack of coordination among different agencies despite the growing evidence that it is such gaps and distrust that have helped terrorist attacks.

Singh avoided a direct reply to the question of whether the two agencies were defying the Centre’s insistence to break down the silos. However, he agreed that the incident validated the need to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). He said that the home ministry was keen that the much-delayed agency start functioning. He also said that a meeting of the director generals of police will be called to eliminate such mix-ups.

As the infighting raged, the investigation into a terror attack runs the risk of becoming a
political football. On Tuesday, both National Minorities Commission and CPM-affiliated Sahmat demanded a probe into Naqi’s arrest. ATS sources were even apprehensive that the controversy may have a bearing on their case in court.

At the heart of the squabbling is the Special Cell’s success in busting the Darbhanga module of the IM. The breakthrough in Darbhanga set the Special Cell both on the path to Naqi as well as a confrontation with the ATS.

One of the arrested Darbhanga members, Gayoor Jamali, told the Special Cell that he had introduced Bhatkal to Naqi, who is from the same district in Bihar. Naqi, who has a
business in Mumbai, admitted to have helped Bhatkal rent a house in Byculla where two suspected 13/7 bombers stayed.

Naqi told his Delhi police handlers that he did not know about the intention or antecedents of Bhatkal. He led the Delhi police to the landlady in Byculla who on the basis of a photograph, confirmed that the man who stayed in her house was indeed Bhatkal.

It is not clear whether Delhi police fully believed Naqi’s claim of innocence, but they did not arrest him because of their belief that he would lead them to Bhatkal. A Special Cell team camped in Mumbai for almost a month. Curiously, they
kept the operation a secret from the ATS even when they were operating on its home turf.

The plan was disrupted when the ATS, who also had Naqi in their crosshairs by then, picked him up for its investigation. The investigation convinced ATS chief Rakesh Maria that Naqi was not innocent. Sources in the home ministry confirmed that the ATS was unhappy with the Special Cell’s zeal in carrying out an autonomous operation in Mumbai, but seemed to agree that the peeve could not have led Maria to arrest Naqi if he did not feel convinced.

The ATS said that Naqi had taken the Delhi police for a ride. Home ministry sources said it was naive of the Special Cell to think the ATS wouldn’t find out about the operation.

Bhatkal false alarm?
After asking the public to come forward with information, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said a woman called up the agency on Tuesday to say she saw someone resembling Yasin Bhatkal travelling in a Central Railway train at around 6 pm on Monday. She said the man resembled photos of Bhatkal released by the ATS and published in the media. Maria said that after investigations turned up nothing, the woman was called to the ATS office and shown Bhatkal’s picture on Tuesday. She then said the man she saw looked about 50 to 60% like the man in the photograph. Police said they are following all leads. TNN

The Times of India, January 25, 2012

Haroon was key to cracking case: Cops

13/7 Blasts

Mumbra Man Was Held In Sept. His Interrogation Uncovered Indian Mujahideen Trail, Says ATS

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Following the announcement that it has cracked the 13/7 case, Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers came out with several revelations on Tuesday. First, they said that Haroon Rashid’s arrest in September led them to discover that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) perpetrated the 13/7 blasts. Second, the SIM card trail led them to find that Imran in Darbhanga, Bihar, was in fact IM founding member Yasin Bhatkal.

ATS officers also said that Bhatkal assembled the bombs in Mumbai and that there was only one scooter bomb, at Zaveri Bazar. The Opera House bomb was taken there in a scooter, but kept in a dustbin. The third bomb in the 13/7 blasts was placed on a Dadar bus stop.

ATS officers said on Tuesday that Mumbra resident Haroon Naik’s arrest on his return from the Middle East in September led the agency to conclude that the IM was involved. The conspiracy was allegedly hatched in January and Rs 10 lakh sent to India through hawala last

“Naik sent Rs 10 lakh in February from UAE to Mumbai for the 13/7 blasts,” said an ATS officer. “Six to seven months after the money was sent, Naik returned from Jeddah. He was caught at Mumbai airport. During interrogation, he admitted to sending the money through hawala. By September, we had zeroed in on the outfit behind this, but did not declare it since we wanted to nab all the accused first,” said an ATS officer. Before Naik’s arrival in
India, the ATS had put out a lookout notice.

When asked whether Naik knew Naqi Ahmed, who has been arrested in the blasts case, the police officer said, “We are yet to take Naik into custody. Once he is in our custody, we will confront him with Naqi. However, it is not necessary that the two know each other since in terror outfits the work is done on a needto-know basis.” Naik is in Arthur Road jail in a separate case for carrying fake currency of over Rs 80,000.

The ATS has also arrested Naqi’s friend Nadeem Akhtar. The two have been remanded to police custody till February 2. The agency will take Naik into custody soon. Three persons, including Bhatkal and two suspected Pakistanis, Tabrez and Waqqas, are wanted in the case.

“The two scooters in which bombs were planted were stolen from south Mumbai by Naqi and Nadeem,” said a senior ATS officer. “They were given to the two suspected Pakistanis in Do Tanki, near Grant Road. Naqi told us he
did not know where the scooters were taken afterwards.” Sources said that while one bomb-laden scooter was parked at Zaveri Bazar, another bomb was kept in a scooter’s boot and a planter rode it to Opera House. “He parked the scooter there and put the bomb in a dustbin,” said a police source. “It was Bhatkal who assembled the bombs,” said the ATS officer.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria also said the agency has arrested eight people, including an MTNL agent, Ganesh Vitthal Tikole, who led them to uncover a SIM card racket. “We found that the IM men
were using cards got on fake documents. This led us to Bihar. The SIM cards were provided by Mumtaz Khan, a SIM card retailer. We arrested him for cheating,” said Maria. “We were trailing the SIM card racket and found that Imran (in Darbhanga) was none other than Yasin Bhatkal.”
Naqi Ahmed met Yasin Bhatkal in 2008 in Darbhanga, Bihar. In September-October 2010, Naqi came to Mumbai. He later helped Bhatkal recce targeted sites and get accommodation. Naqi accepted a parcel in Mumbai, which had the parts for the bombs. Naqi also stole an Activa scooter, which was used in the attacks — Maharashtra ATS
He (Naqi) has been helping the police only. Has this been heard before that a person is behind bars for being an informer of another police force? I think we are a democratic country
Naqi’s elder brother Taqi
Naqi provided the Delhi police and Intelligence Bureau with crucial leads in identifying the two bombers at Byculla. Naqi came to Mumbai to help IB and the Delhi police trace the bombers and Bhatkal. The secret operation was monitored by top security officers in Delhi
— Delhi police
It is true that IB and Delhi police were running an operation where he (Naqi) was the informer.... That does not preclude the fact that he could have been or was involved in the bomb blast. The ATS had come to that conclusion after investigations.... I am happy that Maharashtra ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) cracked the case
— Union home secretary R K Singh

The Times of India, January 25, 2012

‘Our Naqi can’t be a terrorist’

Naqi Ahmed, arrested for 13/7 blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The family of Naqi Ahmed said they had gone to the Mazagaon court on Monday with all the necessary documents to get him bail in the forgery case he was arrested in. However, to their dismay, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) announced that it had now
arrested Naqi in the 13/7 blasts case.

“We collected the documents and surety papers and were carrying some cash too,” said a relative. “But, our dreams were shattered when we heard in the courtroom that Naqi had been booked in the 13/7 blasts case.” Another reklative said, “Our Naqi cannot be a terrorist.”

The ATS is alleging that Naqi knew
of Indian Mujahideen (IM) leader Yasin Bhatkal’s activities and arranged for his accommodation in Mumbai. “Naqi was given money by the IM leader. He had complete knowledge of the 13/7 plan,” said the ATS.

Naqi’s family said he hails from Darbhanga,
Bihar, but shuttled between Delhi and Mumbai since his brothers had leather bag-manufacturing units in both cities. Naqi was studying commerce at Maulana Azad Open University at the time of his arrest.

“One agency is saying he was helping the police, the other says he helped the bombers.

Whom should we trust?” asked a relative.
“Naqi was in Mumbai along with the Delhi police and an Intelligence Bureau (IB) team. Should we presume that the Delhi police don’t know how to investigate or that the 22-year-old managed to dodge even IB? Is this young man so intelligent?” another relative asked. Naqi’s family said they are waiting for his parents to arrive from Bihar to decide what to do.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said Naqi’s parents were unaware of his “activities”. “Naqi was close to Bhatkal and was indoctrinated by him in Bihar. We have evidence to prove his involvement,” said Maria.

Times View
More than five years after 26/11, it appears that the lessons are still to be learned. Clearly, India’s many police forces and security agencies still refuse to coordinate with each other when it comes to the fight against terror. Whether it is the quest for cornering credit or petty turf battles, something almost always seems to prevent the kind of coordination that is essential if that fight is to be won. What is worse, such talking at cross-purposes can lead to doubts being created about whether an innocent person is being persecuted by the investigating agencies, even where there is no real reason for such doubt. Whether this is one such case is a separate matter.

The Times of India, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Naqi helped Bhatkal recce TARGETS

DOWNED SHUTTERS: Naqi Ahmed’s leather-manufacturing unit in Badlupura, Byculla, wore a deserted look on Sunday

Massive Hunt Across 18 States Ends With Arrests Of Two 13/7 Abettors. Teams Fan Out To Nab Mastermind, Bombers

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali | tnn

All the men accused for the 13/7 blasts have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, and crimes under the Explosives Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The three main accused, Indian Mujahideen founding member Yasin Bhatkal and two unnanmed bomb planters, remain on the run. Due to an alleged turf battle between the Delhi police and Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which the ATS has denied, the three reportedly escaped.

“Accused Naqi Ahmed had come to Mumbai in September-October of 2010 and was in the Mandanpura area,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “He later assisted Bhatkal in doing recces of the targeted sites. Naqi and Nadeem Akhtar are the ones who stole the two scooters in which bombs were planted to go off at Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar. They also stole two motorbikes for future plans. We have recovered those two motorbikes. Moreover, the helmet of the Activa scooter's owner and duplicate keys were recovered from the duo,” said Maria. He added that while one scooter used in the 13/7 blasts was stolen from Khetwadi near CP tank, another was stolen from outside the Hurkisondas Hospital near Charni Road. Police said Bhatkal visited Mumbai in June and July, but later never returned to the Byculla residence of his accomplices.

“Naqi had given SIM cards, obtained on forged documents, to Bhatkal. In turn, Bhatkal had given Rs 1.5 lakh to Naqi to aid and assist the crime,” the ATS chief said. Sources in the ATS said the detonators were purchased from Delhi and the bomb was assembled at Byculla. “The bomb material was brought to
Mumbai a few days prior to the blasts,” said a source. Maria said Nadeem was called to Delhi by Bhatkal, where he was given a packet covered in cloth and asked to hand it over to Naqi in Mumbai. The cloth packet allegedly contained the explosives, timers and detonators. Naqi gave this packet to the wanted accused.

“It was Naqi who helped Bhatkal get accommodation in Mumbai. They saw many places. Bhatkal rejected some flats and then agreed on Habib Apartments in Byculla. The deposit and rent were paid to the landlady by Naqi,” said Maria.

According to Maria, Bhatkal first met Naqi in Darbhanga. “There, Bhatkal indoctrinated young boys. Naqi and Bhatkal have been associated since 2008," said Maria. “Naqi first got himself enrolled in a gym near the blast sites and later enrolled a wanted accused in the gym. They chose the gym time of 7pm to 8pm to gauge the crowd on the streets,” Maria said.

Maria said a lead was obtained in this case in the last week of November 2011 and on December 2 an ATS team left for Darbhanga. He also hinted at the involvement of the underworld in Bihar.

The two unnamed bomb planters allegedly stayed at Habib Apartments, near Byculla railway station and down the road from Byculla police station. They reportedly showed the landlady Rubina Qureishi fake PAN cards to seal the deal. Yasin Bhatkal is said to have visited them at the flat. They disappeared in mid-December and never returned for their deposit because the police were closing in on them

Naqi, Razi and Rafi have a leather shoe-making unit on the ground floor of Islamia Building in Badlupura, Byculla. The unit’s workers had been detained along with the owners on January 8, but they were subsequently released. The police had been camping there till Naqi’s arrest. The unit is being operated by Naqi’s brothers and workers

The police say that one of the scooters in which a bomb was planted was stolen from near Hurkisondas Hospital, near Charni Road

One of the scooters in which a bomb was planted was stolen from outside a residence at Khetwadi, near CP Tank. The scooter was in the possession of a businessman’s employee when it was stolen a few hours before the blasts. He registered a case after the blasts


4 police teams hunted through the CCTV images from 187 cameras for 29 days

The investigation was spread across 18 states
150 officers from the Mumbai police, plus others in Delhi, Kolkata and Bihar were involved

12,373 people were questioned and their statements taken

10 lakh was used to fund the Pune German Bakery, Delhi HC and 13/7 blasts


Naqi Ahmed Vasi Shaikh, aged 22, is a resident of Deora Bandhauli, in Darbhanga district, Bihar. The businessman has two leather units, one in Delhi and the other in Badlupura, Byculla, Mumbai. He and his brothers Razi and Rafi run a shoe-making business inherited from their father. Naqi, Razi and Rafi were detained on January 8, 2012 in Mumbai and Naqi was booked in a SIM card forgery case. Razi and Rafi were later released. Police allege that Yasin Bhatkal sent explosives for the 13/7 blasts from Delhi to Mumbai, where Naqi received them, and that Naqi stole one of the scooters in which a bomb was planted

Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaque Shaikh, aged 23, is a resident of Antop Hill, Mumbai, but originally hails from Deora Bandhauli, in Darbhanga district, Bihar. He was arrested on January 12 in the same SIM card forgery case Naqi was booked in. Akhtar is alleged to have ferried explosives from Delhi to Mumbai and stole one of the scooters that had a bomb


Haroon Rashid Naik, aged 33, is a resident of Mumbra in Thane, but originally hails from Beed, Maharashtra. Naik ran a cloth business in Kolkata and was arrested in a fake currency case in July 2011. A chargesheet filed by the ATS in November in that case says he travelled to Pakistan for arms training and wanted to avenge atrocities on Muslims across the world, including in Gujarat. The ATS claims the training was arranged and funded by Indian Mujahideen (IM) leader Riyaz Bhatkal. Police have not specified his role in the 13/7 blasts but he is expected to be held in a few days. He has been in Arthur Road jail in connection with the fake currency case


YASIN BHATKAL Zarar Ahmed Siddipa aka Shahrukh aka Imran aka Yasin Bhatkal is a 30-year-old founding member of the IM. He hails from Bhatkal town in Karnataka and is
reportedly third in command in the IM. He
is said to have masterminded several blasts across the country, including the 2011 Delhi high court blast, the 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune and the 2011 13/7 triple blasts in Mumbai. He is reportedly the chief financer who sent money through hawala for the 13/7 blasts. He visited Mumbai, arranged accommodation for the two other planters and is suspected to have planted the Dadar bomb

The police have shown the Zaveri Bazar and Opera House bomb planters as unnamed, but sources in the security agencies say they were two Pakistanis named Waqqas and Tabrez. They stayed at Habib Apartments, Byculla, where accommodation was allegedly arranged for them by Bhatkal and Naqi. They were reportedly in possession of fake Indian PAN cards, which they had shown when renting the flat

The Times of India, January 24, 2012

Unnamed planters could be Pakistanis who lived in Byculla

SUCCESS AT LAST? ATS chief Rakesh Maria (left) and DCP Pradeep Sawant at Monday’s press briefing

S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Monday claimed to have cracked the 13/7 triple blasts case, but remained tightlipped on naming two of the wanted men. Of the three men absconding in the case, only Indian Mujahideen (IM) founding member Yasin Bhatkal has been named. Sources said the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is not naming the two because it doesn’t want the Delhi police to get any credit, but local ATS bosses denied this.

Sources said the two unnamed wanted accused are the Pakistanis who were being watched by the Delhi police’s special cell in Mumbai in the last week of December. There were reports that a tussle between the Mumbai ATS and Delhi police led to a botch-up that allowed Bhatkal and the two Pakistanis escape being caught at Habib Apartments, Byculla. The Delhi police claimed the ATS spoiled the trap when it picked up their informer Naqi Ahmed. The ATS claimed the Delhi police were sleeping when the two Pakistanis
arrived to return the house keys to landlady Rubina Qureshi.

“If (ATS chief Rakesh) Maria had taken the names of the two Pakistanis, then the Delhi police theory gets confirmed. So Maria called them accused A and B,”’ said a source.

Maria rubbished this, saying, “Our teams are on the job to get the absconders. I don’t want to hamper the investigations by giving out their names and details.” Maria said there was no botch-up
and the ATS had got help from several other state police and central agencies. “Our teams visited 18 states, coordinated with the Punjab, Bihar, Kolkata and Delhi police. There was no fighting for credit as the media reported and I feel that competition is good. It should always be there or the hunger to crack the case would not be there,” said Maria.

The ATS claims to have unearthed the trail through which the terrorists financed the 13/7 triple blasts. Police said that Rs 10 lakh were used to fund the Pune German Bakery, Delhi high court and 13/7 attacks. The police have frozen Naqi Ahmed’s and Nadeem Akhtar’s bank accounts and are investigating the accounts of their family members. Police said the money was forwarded from Dubai to Nepal to Bihar and finally to Mumbai. They alleged Rs 1.5 lakh of that money was paid to Naqi. The accused also used counterfeit notes to buy cell phones, SIM cards, tickets to travel from one city to the other and explosives.

The Times of India, January 24, 2012

Bihar’s terror tentacles grow

S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Bihar’s Darbhanga district has come into sharper focus during the investigations into the 13/7 triple blasts, with investigators saying that much of the indoctrination, recruitment, financing and planting of the bombs occurred there.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Monday claimed it had cracked the 13/7 blasts case with the arrests of two men from Deora Bandhauli in Darbhanga district. Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar have been arrested for aiding and abetting two wanted Pakistani nationals and Indian Mujaheedin (IM) founder member Yasin Bhatkal to carry out the blasts. In addition, the hawala money brought to Mumbai to conduct the blasts came through the Dubai-Nepal-Bihar-Mumbai route.

In a further Darbhanga connection, the six IM members, including Qateel Siddiqui, who were arrested by the Delhi police in November for the Chinnaswamy and Delhi high court blasts
are all from that district.

Police said Yasin Bhatkal had met Naqi in 2008 through a common friend, Gayoor Jamali. Bhatkal had fled Karnataka after the Mumbai crime branch launched a manhunt for him following the arrests of 21 IM members.

An ATS official said, “While police looked for him in the town of Bhatkal in Mangalore, in Pune in Maharashtra and Azamgarh in UP, Yasin took shelter in the house of one Jamali in Darbhanga. Jamali later introduced Naqi to Bhatkal. Bhatkal then started recruiting unemployed youths in Darbhanga for the IM. Bhatkal sent select
ed youths to Pakistan via Nepal for arms training.”

While Naqi’s family members have been maintaining that Naqi was unaware of the 13/7 conspiracy and helped Bhatkal unknowingly, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said Naqi, who is from a well-to-do family, knew Bhatkal was a terrorist, helped him find a house in Byculla, and stole a scooter for him knowing it would have a bomb planted in it. “Not only that, Naqi and Nadeem had stolen two more twowheelers, which are likely to be used in future blasts. Naqi provided Rs 1.5 lakh to the two Pakistanis to rent the flat in Habib Apartments. We have idependent witnesses and evidence to corroborate this,” said Maria.

Nadeem allegedly went to Delhi, where Bhatkal handed him a packet covered in cloth to be given to Naqi, who in turn gave the same to the two Pakistanis who assembled the bombs. Naqi allegedly helped the Pakistanis do recces of the blast sites and enroll in a gym in Kumbarwada, a stone’s throw from Zaveri Bazar.

The Times of India, January 24, 2012

Tech helped trace suspects

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali | TNN

Mumbai: Technology has played a major role in the probe into the 13/7 blasts. Four cop teams went through images from 187 CCTV cameras for 29 days before they zeroed in on the planters.

“Our staff worked for 696 hours on 187 cameras’ images that we obtained from various locations. Some images were highly damaged, while some had a lot of smoke, making it difficult to get leads. Our staff did not give up and worked hard,” said Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria. At one point, the ATS almost lost hope. “Soon we got advanced software from a European company that helped forensic experts make the blurred images clearer,” he added. Face-recognition experts were used and cell phone
tracking and other technologies were also employed.

According to Maria more than 150 officers from the Mumbai police, besides those from Delhi, Kolkata and Bihar, did investigations. Investigators interrogated 12,373 people and recorded their statements. “Our investigation was spread across 18 states…. Importance was given to tracing the financial
trail, like who sent the Rs 10 lakh to execute the blasts, who received the money and how many people were taken into confidence to distribute the money,” said an ATS officer.

“We have obtained DNA from the room they stayed in. The police found that Naqi Ahmed and Nadeem Akhtar also visited the rented room in Byculla where the planters stayed,” said a source. The computer seized from the rented room contains incriminating files and information, according to police. A copy of the hard disk is being studied and the forensic laboratory will submit a final report in the next week, said the source. The ATS team included deputy commissioner of police Pradeep Sawant, assistant commissioners Ashok Kamat and Samad Shaikh, and inspectors Dinesh Kadam, Sukhlal Varpe and S Pawar.

Date | July 13, 2011
Toll | 27 dead | 127 injured
Blast sites | Zaveri Bazar (6.54 pm) | Opera House (6.55 pm) | Dadar (7.06 pm)
Bombs | They contained a cocktail of TNT ammonium nitrate, nitrite and petroleum hydrocarbon, according to the final report of the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory

The Times of India, January 24,2012

13/7 cracked, but big fish at large

Naqi and Nadeem, 13/7 blasts accused, being produced in a court

Indian Mujahideen Did It, Says ATS; 2 Facilitators From Bihar Arrested

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali TNN

Mumbai: More than six months after three bombs killed 27 people and injured 137 others in Mumbai, the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) announced on Monday that it had cracked the case. Two arrests have been made, while a third is expected in a few days. However, in a major disappointment, the arrests are only of the facilitators. The three main conspirators, mastermind Yasin Bhatkal and two bomb planters, have been named as wanted accused and are on the run. Those arrested are Naqi Ahmed, 22, and Nadeem Akhtar, 23, both originally from Darbhanga district in Bihar.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said

the 13/7 blasts—at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar—were the handiwork of the outlawed Indian Mujahideen (IM). Police said Rs 10 lakh was sent to India via Dubai and Nepal and it was used to fund the 13/7, Delhi High Court and Pune German Bakery blasts. In addition, the 13/7 conspirators also used fake currency to purchase cell phones, SIM cards and so on.

After the ATS held a press conf
erence in Mumbai to say it had cracked the case, some TV channels said the Union home ministry was baffled by the announcement and was upset that it hadn’t been informed about the developments. There were also reports that the home ministry said the cops were trying to cover up a recent bungle. However, home ministry sources emphatically denied these claims.

Both Naqi and Nadeem were al
ready in custody in a SIM card forgery case. A third man in custody, Mumbra resident Haroon Naik, 33, is expected to be arrested in the 13/7 case in a few days. Naik is in custody in a fake currency case and has been at Arthur Road jail since July 2011. “These accused facilitated, aided and abetted the July 13 blasts. We will take Naik into custody soon,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria during the press briefing.

Police teams have been dispatched to various places to trace the wanted accused. Aside from IM founding member Bhatkal, the police showed the other two absconders as simply accused A and B. However, sources said they are most likely Waqqas and Tabrez, the two Pakistani nationals who both the Delhi police and Mumbai ATS were tracking at Habib Apartments, Byculla, till recently.


THE ATTACK July 13, 2011 | Three blasts at Zaveri Bazar (6.54PM), Opera House (6.55PM) and Dadar (7.06PM) kill 27, injure 137

To strike a blow against the Indian economy

ATS said Rs 10 lakh was used to fund the Pune German Bakery, Delhi HC and 13/7 attacks. Money was forwarded from Dubai to Nepal to Bihar and finally to Mumbai

Search spanned 18 states. 150 investigators from Mumbai, plus others in Delhi, Kolkata and Bihar interviewed over 12,300 witnesses

Police have not named the Zaveri Bazar and Opera House bomb planters but sources say they are two Pakistanis named Waqqas and Tabrez

NAQI AHMED VASI SHAIKH (22) Businessman from Darbhanga, with leather units in Delhi and Byculla. He and his brothers were detained on Jan 8. Naqi was booked in a SIM card forgery case. Cops say explosives for 13/7 sent through Naqi and that he stole one of the scooters in which a bomb was planted

Also from Darbhanga. Stayed at Antop Hill. Was arrested on Jan 12 in the same SIM card forgery case Naqi was booked in. Is also alleged to have ferried explosives to Mumbai, and stolen a scooter

HAROON RASHID NAIK (33) A resident of Mumbra. Ran a cloth business in Kolkata and was arrested in a fake currency case last July. ATS says he went to Pakistan for arms training, wanted to avenge atrocities on Muslims

YASIN BHATKAL (30) Founding member of IM. Brain behind several blasts in the country. Funded, organized 13/7 blasts. Supected to have planted the Dadar bomb

The Times of India, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

‘IB kept ATS in dark about plan to nab 13/7 suspects’

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Did lack of cooperation between the country’s two elite investigation agencies—the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS)—result in Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Yasin Bhatkal alias Imran managing to give the sleuths the slip. It certainly appears to be the case if sources in the security establishment are to be believed.

In what appears to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing, a specialized unit in the city police silently helped the Delhi police in conducting the operation while the ATS, supposed to be the prime agency for probe into the 13/7 blasts, was completely clueless about the breakthrough, said sources.

According to sources, the Delhi police had been trying to zero in on Bhatkal since the third week of last November. While the Delhi police had kept IB officials in the loop, the latter, who visited Mumbai several times since the blasts, never informed the ATS.

“The IB played a double game here. While the Delhi police team had been camping in Mumbai since mid December with the IB’s knowledge, they (the IB) informed the ATS only on January 7 about the Delhi police’s operation,” said a police source.

When ATS officials learnt that the Delhi police was about to crack the case, they panicked and picked up Mo
hammed Naqi from Mumbai. “In fact, Naqi was flown to Mumbai by the Delhi police and was helping them with the case. He was asked to identify the IM operatives who were staying in a rented flat in Habib Apartments near the Byculla police station. Naqi was taken to ATS office and detained for two days before being shown as arrested in a petty case,” said the source.

Naqi’s detention and the presence of police personnel near Habib Apartments perhaps alerted the suspects
who were to return to their rented flat, said the source. “The IB should have informed the ATS about the Delhi police’s operation in December itself. However, they did it at the last moment thinking they could be questioned later for not informing the ATS.”

The specialized unit in the city police, too, did not inform the ATS about the operation. The unit not only provided manpower to the Delhi police but also arranged accommodation for the team from capital in a Mumbai central building. Rubina Qureishi, the landlady of the flat rented by the suspects in Habib Apartments, stayed in the Mumbai Central building. “The Delhi police thought the suspects might call on their landlady and therefore stayed close to Qureishi to keep an eye on visitors to her home. Another team was posted near the suspects’ rented flat in Habib Apartments,” said the source. “The Mumbai police officers chose to help the Delhi police than the ATS.”

Moreover, the infighting within the state ATS is deepening. Old timers in the ATS said they feel neglected after an instruction from the higher ups. “We have been asked to hand over all the suspects to the Kalachowkie unit. When we go there, we are treated as second-class officers. Such treatment is demoralizing. A section of senior officers think that only the Kalachowkie unit is capable of detecting the case. It’s one of the reasons why there are so many groups within the ATS,” said an officer.

The Times of India, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Naqi staff under ‘house arrest’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The leather bag manufacturing unit of Mohammed Naqi, who has been accused of cheating, has been converted into a fortress after the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) deployed personnel in huge numbers, putting all workers and his relatives under virtual house arrest.

Naqi was detained by the squad’s Maharashtra unit on January 8 and later booked for forgery. The personnel are allegedly using Naqi’s office as their own. “They are not allowing anyone to meet Naqi’s brothers, Razi and Rafi. We don’t know if they have any au
thority,” a source said. The team, equipped with a laptop and several cell phones, is doing its office work from the unit. “Even customers are facing problems. When someone comes, the personnel make inquiries. It’s affecting business,” the source said.

Naqi, remanded to police custody till January 23, allegedly provided shelter to Indian Mujahideen operative, Yaseen Bhatkal alias Imran, and two others who were initially suspected to be Pakistani nationals. The ATS claimed that Bhatkal along with the two carried out the July 13 blasts last year that killed 27 and injured scores.

The Times of India, January 21, 2012

Bhatkal’s aides worked in city for many months

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the escape of two suspected Pakistani nationals, who according to the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) planted two of the 13/7 bombs, has revealed that they worked in the city for several months. The first reportedly worked at a mobile phone repairing shop at Sewree and the other at a builder’s office in Nalasopara.

Security establishment sources said while the police lost Yasin Bhatkal, an important member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), due to the infighting among police units—the Maharashtra ATS and Delhi police—the later was still on the case and claimed they will crack it soon.

Residents of Habib Apartment, where Waqas and Tabrez stayed for several months, were not aware of where exactly they worked. “The two told some of us that they were working in call centres,” said a resident. The police have found mobile numbers being used by the two nationals and with the help of them they found the call data records.

“The police are working on the numbers and are calling people whose numbers were found on their mobiles,” a source said.

The ATS is interrogating Mohammed Naqi to see if he had helped the two procure permanent account number (PAN) cards on fake documents. “He has not admitted
to it yet. He could be given a clean chit in the terror case. However, we cannot take a chance and are exploring the case from all the angles,” said an officer who played a vital role in detaining Naqi.

But a major section of the police and security establishment is not convinced that Bhatkal dared stay near ATS headquarters even when he was much soughtafter. “The Delhi police had almost cracked the case but the ATS interference gave the culprits a chance to slip

away,” said an informer working on this case. He added that the ATS was picking up people and trying its best for a breakthrough.

A Naqi family member said he was being tortured in police custody. “My nephew (Naqi) is innocent. He did not know anybody called Bhatkal. We were told that he was arrested in a cheating case. We would like to know what he exactly wrong,” said Umar Farooque (52), Naqi’s uncle. “They (ATS officials) want him to confess to something he was never involved in,” Farooque said. The ATS denied the allegations.

The Times of India, January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

ATS detains student in 13/7 blasts case

Mohammed Taqi

Taqi’s Brother Had ‘Helped’ Bhatkal With Byculla House

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Desperate for clues after losing a 13/7 blasts suspect last month, the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) picked up an MBA student from Delhi and detained him for several hours. The student, Mohammed Taqi, is the brother of Mohammed Naqi, who had allegedly arranged accommodation for Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal alias Imran in Mumbai. Naqi is in police custody in a cheating case. Late on Thursday night, the ATS was camping at Taqi’s residence, interrogating him.

The ATS claimed that two bombs were planted by Bhatkal’s accomplices, Waqqas and Tabrez, while the third was planted by Bhatkal himself.

Sources said Taqi was picked up after he addressed a press conference with several civil rights activists in New Delhi on Wednesday. Taqi
spoke about the agony and trauma his family had been going through in the last one month since it came to the police notice the Naqi had arranged accommodation for Bhatkal and his two suspected Pakistani accomplices.

Taqi was taken to his Shaeen Baug residence in Delhi, from where the ATS personnel took away a laptop, a memory card and several books. Naqi, whose leather bag unit in Mumbai has become the centre of investigation, faces cheating charges.

“We are probing if Naqi knew Imran’s real identity as Bhatkal,” an ATS officer said, adding that Naqi was under interrogation for over 10 days.

The Delhi police said Waqqas and Tabrez, who were
thought to be Pakistanis, could be Indians. “They had permanent account number (PAN) cards issued from Patna and spoke fluent Hindi with a Bihari accent,” sources in the security establishment said. While no arrest has been made in the Mumbai triple blast cases, the ATS officers claim explosives used had been brought from Nepal, but they do not have concrete evidence.

The Maharashtra ATS claimed that before coming to Byculla, Bhatkal stayed in Deora Baudhauli village in Bihar, where he met Naqi. “Bhatkal met Naqi through a local, Qateel Siddiqui, and introduced himself as Imran. Bhatkal told Naqi that he wanted to go to Mumbai and was looking for cheap accommodation for himself and friends. Naqi assured him help. Naqi’s relatives, Mohammed Wasi and Mohammed Rafi, were detained by the ATS last week.

Police personnel posted at Naqi’s leather bag unit in Byculla are not allowing the media to speak to workers there. “We have a court order that no one should be allowed to meet these people. They are our witnesses,” an ATS assistant inspector said.

The Times of India, January 20, 2012

Wahab denies forgery

Abdul Wahab

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Abdul Wahab (24) denied on Thursday that he had used forged documents to procure 14 SIM cards. “I purchased 14 cards but all were obtained with my voter ID card. If the forgery charge is true, show me proof,” said Wahab after his release from the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) lock-up in Mumbai.

Wahab, a second year mechanical engineering diploma student in Mohali, hails from Bihar. “The ATS has not told me or my family how I am involved in a cheating case. I procured the cards when mobile companies would offer various schemes. The ATS has seized all the cards,” he said.

Wahab along with room-mate, Qamar-e-Aalam, also from Bihar, was detained in Mohali and flown to Mumbai. The ATS has booked six persons in the case, including Mohammed Naqi, mobile phone dealer Mumtaz Shaikh, Aadil and Naseem Shahejahan Khan. While three have been granted bail, three are still in police custody. The police refused to reveal how the case was registered as cheating when the buyer took all the cards on his voter’s ID; the role of the other accused has also not been mentioned.

The youngest among nine
siblings, Wahab is currently in Mumbai at his brother’s cap-making unit at Bhendi Bazaar. “Though I was not tortured, the ATS move has prevented me from appearing for three engineering papers. Can they give back my time now,” he asked. His college has now refused to admit him, but the ATS has promised him help.

“The police kept inquiring about several numbers, which were not stored in my phone, and insisted I should cooperate. If they want cooperation, they should have allowed me to see my phone to recall whose numbers those were,” said Wahab.

The Times of India, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ATS to collect DNA samples from Byculla flat

Habib Apartments in Byculla

13/7 Blasts Probe

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is planning to collect DNA samples from a flat in a Byculla building where suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) commander Yasin Bhatkal stayed last year with two Pakistani nationals under the alias of Imran.

The ATS, probing the 2011 July 13 triple bomb blasts in Mumbai, was following certain leads in the case but lost track of the suspected bom
bers, including the two Pakistani nationals (Waqqas and Tabrez), in December.

There were reports that besides the two Pakistani nationals, who got a flat in Habib Apartments in Byculla, Bhatkal stayed there for sometime. “DNA samples will help verify if more than three persons had stayed in the room. The ATS is now taking help of the Kalina forensic science laboratory,” said sources in the security establishment.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the ATS is looking for a Delhi-based trader, identified as
Irfan alias Aarif, in connection with the 13/7 blasts. The ATS has already arrested Aarif ’s nephew Naseem Shahejan Khan in a forgery case.

Sources said Khan was picked up from a wedding in Samastipur, Bihar early this month. “The ATS was, in fact, looking for Aarif but picked up Khan,” said a source.

Sources said the ATS team did not take help of the local police in Bihar and aroused the ire of villagers. When the ATS personnel tried to drag Khan into their vehicle, hundreds of villagers, suspecting that some people were trying to kidnap Khan, came after the sleuths with lathis. They chased the police vehicle on bikes and cars for about four kilometres. The ATS did not inform Khan’s family at that time about his detention.

Sources said Khan was subjected to torture in ATS’ Kalachowkie unit. The police wanted to know about the whereabouts of Aarif, who is suspected to have links with one Imran. However, it is still not clear whether Imran is the same person who the ATS suspects to be Bhatkal.

A few ATS personnel were posted outside Islamia building at Badlupura (Byculla) to guard the shop of an arrested cheating accused, Mohammed Naqi. The ATS believes that Naqi helped Bhatkal rent a flat in Byculla. It is also said that Naqi was unaware of Bhatkal’s real name and his activities. “Bhatkal was introduced to Naqi in Bihar by a suspect in the Delhi high court bomb blast case, Qateel Siddiqui, now behind bars. Naqi’s two relatives, Mohammed Wasi and Mohammed Rafi, “detained” on January 8, are released daily for two hours to change clothes and have food. During this period, an assistant inspector accompanies them.

Lalbaugcha Raja on IM hitlist?
One of the six IM operatives arrested by the Delhi police has told the interrogators that two Pakistanis, Waqqas and Tabrez, had done recces of Lalbaugcha Raja pandal and were to carry out an attack there between September 1 and 11. The duo couldn’t do so due to heavy police bandobast. TNN

The Times of India, January 19, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I knew Bhatkal as Imran: Bizman

IM Perpetrated 13/7, Varanasi Blasts: Intel

Mateen Hafeez & Dwaipayan Ghosh | TNN

Mumbai/New Delhi: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said it has established beyond a doubt that Waqqas and Tabrez, the two Pakistanis who lived at Habib Apartments in Byculla, planted the 13/7 bombs that exploded at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House. But the ATS is still unsure of the identity of the bomber who planted the bomb at a bus stop in Dadar on July 13, 2011.

Meanwhile, intelligence agencies said the Indian Mujahideen (IM) engineered both the 13/7 serial blasts in Mumbai and the December 6, 2010 attack at the Dashaswamedh ghat in Varanasi. “Local operatives provided logistical help to the IM to carry out the (Varanasi) blast,” said a Delhi police officer.

Mumbai ATS officials said IM leader Yasin Bhatkal alias Imran was living with the two Pakistanis at flat 53 in Habib Apartments at the time of the 13/7 attacks, but they aren’t sure if Bhatkal was the third planter. Tabrez and Waqqas kept living in the Byculla flat after the blasts, while Bhatkal shuttled between Mumbai and other places. He left Byculla for good only on November 26, the third an
niversary of the 26/11 attacks, the ATS said. Tabrez and Waqqas left in December.

Mohammed Naqi, a Byculla businessman caught in a cheating case last week, allegedly helped the IM men get the accommodation. “Naqi says he knew Bhatkal only as Imran and took him to a real estate agent. We are
still probing if Naqi was aware of Imran’s real identity,” said an officer. The ATS is unsure if the bombs were assembled at the Byculla flat or were brought there in ready condition, said sources.

Security sources said the Zaveri Bazar bomber can be identified in CCTV footage walking from the blast site to Mohammed Ali Road. While investigators said he is one of the two Pakistanis, they are tightlipped about who it is.

The police said the duo, along with Bhatkal, began renting at Habib Apartments in March 2011. “It is true that Yasin Bhatkal was present in Mumbai,” said an investigator. “However, the ATS was not sure of Bhatkal’s true identity as he was using the alias Imran. After the 13/7 blasts, the two Pakistanis stayed in the Byculla flat. Bhatkal would leave Mumbai often. He returned last towards the end of November and left the flat for good on November 26.”

An ATS official said, “The ATS knows the suspects’ roles, but we will not announce detection until we catch the culprits.” ATS
sources said the two Pakistanis left the city in December and only Waqqas was supposed to return for their belongings and deposit. “We laid a trap since he was to come back. But he never returned,” said an ATS officer. Delhi police said Bhatkal had told the landlady he would return. The ATS has seized a computer, five DVDs, branded shirts and jeans from Flat 53. The flat has been sealed.

The Times of India, January 18, 2012

Delhi cops never contacted us: ATS

Mateen Hafeez & Dwaipayan Ghosh | TNN

Mumbai/New Delhi: The blame game for the alleged fi asco that ended with Indian Mu jahideen (IM) leader Yasin Bhatkal escaping has begun The Maharashtra Anti-Terror ism Squad (ATS) has denied that it scuttled the investigation and accused the Delhi police’s Special Cell of not informing the ATS about its operation in Mumbai as well as seeking to hijack the probe. The ATS in Mumbai claimed it had almost cracked the case, but the Delhi police wanted the credit.

Faced with criticism for not being able to solve the 13/7 blasts case, the ATS had gone all-out in the past two months sources said. It was hunting for Yasin Bhatkal, but was un aware that he had been visiting Byculla under the identity of Imran. While the ATS claimed Bhatkal fled Mumbai on No vember 26 last year, Delhi po lice said Bhatkal fled from Chennai before his hideout was raided and is still holed up
somewhere in India.

The city ATS said the Delhi police had camped out in Mum bai hotels. “The Delhi police of ficials never contacted us,” said an ATS officer. “If they had some information, they should have shared it with us. It was a national security issue, but it seems they were concerned only about the credit.”

The cold war between the two agencies also arose because of the arrest of businessman Mohammed Naqi by the ATS in a cheating case. Delhi police said they had brought Naqi to Mumbai to identify Bhatkal The Delhi police claimed that Naqi’s arrest by the ATS in Mumbai alerted the IM sus pects. But the Mumbai police countered that Naqi was ar rested in January, long after the IM suspects fled. However, the Delhi police said on January 1 Bhatkal called landlady Rubi na Qureshi to tell her that he would collect the deposit from her when he visited Mumbai in
another 12 days.

The Delhi cops said the ATS came to know of the call made to Rubina. On January 6, the ATS summoned her to ATS headquarters and asked her to keep them informed about Bhatkal. Meanwhile, before Naqi could reach Byculla, he was picked up by ATS.

The ATS said the Delhi po lice did not keep them in the loop and too many sleuths in the area had alerted the ac cused. ATS officials said the Delhi police should have con tacted them if they had any 13/7 information. “We fail to understand why the Delhi po lice are showing so much in terest in our case,” an ATS of ficer said. The state police feared the Delhi police want ed to pick up the suspects and conduct a press conference in Delhi to announce the case was solved.

The Times of India, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guj to Nashik & then a disappearing act


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Another member of outlawed outfit, Indian Mujahideen (IM), who was being tracked by the Nashik anti-terrorism squad (ATS), appears to have vanished. The suspect, whose identity has not been disclosed, came from Gujarat to Nashik just after the blasts and fled the town only a fortnight ago. Cops, however, are not sure whether he is linked to the 13/7 blasts.

Sources said this suspect had been in Gujarat for several months before shifting base to Nashik. “He took a cyber café on rent and was reportedly run
ning his activities from there. The Nashik ATS was on his trail but he managed to give them a slip,” the source said. The suspect, also part of a sleeper cell, was acting as the owner of the cyber café and several people would come to meet him there. “The police were trying to verify from the list of his visitors if they were part of the Indian Mujahideen group. However, it was too late for them.”

Sources further said that two to three weeks ago, the suspect approached the cyber café owner to inform him that he was suffering losses and could not run it any longer. He took away the hard disc of a few computers.

Doc summoned
One of the suspected Pakistani nationals who stayed at Byculla had approached an eye specialist in Mazgaon area after an eye infection. The police summoned the doctor to record his statement and later let him to go. The police had found the doctor’s number while going through the Pakistani men’s cellphone records. TNN

The Times of India, January 17, 2012

Phone records point to West Bengal

BLAST HORROR: A Zaveri Bazar victim being taken to a hospital

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The Delhi police have picked up the trail of a suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) member based in West Bengal. The person, identified as Haroon, had been using a BSNL phone to keep in touch with a suspect, who is believed to be Yasin Bhatkal alias Shahrukh. The latter was also using a Kolkata cellphone number.

The Delhi police, who were monitoring Haroon’s telephonic conversation, found his contact (the suspect) in Mumbai. However, they were not sure about the suspect’s identity. During that time, the Delhi police claimed to have busted an IM module and arrested
six persons from Chennai and Bihar. The information gathered from their interrogation and Haroon’s conversation led them to the Mumbai man.

“Haroon has never been actively involved in any blast in the country. He is part of a sleeper cell that generally does the supportive job for other members. Most recruits do not know about them as well,” said a source.

It may be noted that the Maharashtra ATS had got in touch with the West Bengal police in July last year to find information about somebody holed up in Murshidabad. However, the ATS later lost interest in him. There are reports that the activities of that suspect were not monitored after a few weeks of the blasts. “Had the ATS been following the Murshidabad suspect, they would have definite
ly got some information,” said the source.

Haroon, who is originally from northern India, slipped out of the Delhi police’s radar and switched off his mobile as well, said sources. However, the information collected during phone-tapping helped the police to indicate another module in Mumbai. The West Bengal police was later alerted about Haroon but by then he had left the state. The Delhi police found that Haroon had made calls to some people whose contact details were found in the mobile numbers of a few IM members arrested in November last. Sources said the prolonged time spent in verification cost the ATS; they lost the IM module from Mumbai.

The Times of India, January 17, 2012

Another agent passed on trio to me

TERRORISTS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD: (L) Habib Apartments near Palace Talkies at Byculla; (R) flat 53 which the terrorists rented

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Sultan Khan, the realty agent who finds himself at the centre of a controversy for providing a rented flat to two Pakistani nationals and a suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) commander, has told interrogators that another agent had passed on the three men to him.

The three suspects—Pakistan’s Waqqas and Tabrez, and IM leader Yasin Bhatkal alias Shahrukh alias Imran—stayed in Habib Apartments near Byculla railway station for almost eight months. “They came to me with the reference of some other agent. I work on a commission basis and introduced them to the flat owner, Rubina Qureishi. After they spoke to her, the deal was finalized,” Khan told the anti-terrorism squad (ATS). The three suspects fled the city in mid-December without informing the flat owner, the broker or the
neighbours. The ATS, during a search of the one-roomkitchen flat, number 53, on Habib Apartments’ third floor, found several CDs and DVDs and is examining them. The content is not known.

The flat’s door displayed a name, Mohammed Istiyaque A Salam Qureishi. The rent of the 150-square-foot flat was around Rs 8,000 per month. This 80-year-old building houses several small and big flats with mostly salaried tenants.
The three posed as call centre employees and would return at odd hours.

No neighbour had any concrete information about them. “We have been terrorized since we heard the blast suspects were staying here. We could not feel that they were so dangerous,” said a tenant. Another tenant said, “They would not interact with us and their door would be closed at all times.” No neighbour knew their names. “Why would we ask anyone their names if they did not want to interact with us? They would mostly leave one by one. We never heard any noise or argument from their room,” said an old woman.

Incidentally, Khan stays in the same building. When TOI visited his second-floor residence at around 2 pm, a woman in her mid-40s was offering prayers. “Khan is not at home,” she said and provided his business card. “Contact him if you want to talk to him,” she said.

The Times of India, January 17, 2012

Cops trace garage where scooter bomb was fitted

The scooter is taken to the compound of an oil mill, which houses a lot of vehicle mechanic shops. A bomb is fitted into the scooter at the location, which is near Byculla police station

Investigators Remain Mum On Who Did Fitting Of Zaveri Bazar Explosive. A Mechanic Had Been Quizzed Earlier

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The Zaveri Bazar bomb detonated in last year’s 13/7 blasts was fitted into a stolen scooter in the compound of an oil mill just a stone’s throw from the Byculla police station, according to police investigations. Three blasts were set off by terrorists on July 13, 2011, at Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar, killing 27 people and injuring over 100. The oil mill is filled with garages and the Zaveri Bazar bomb went off in a scooter.

The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), whose investigations into the case were meandering, was taken by surprise when a Delhi police team arrived in the city in late December. The Delhi police gave details about three suspects who were in Mumbai. While two were identified as Pakistani nationals Waqqas and Tabrez, the third was believed to be a top commander of the

Indian Mujahideen (IM), Yasin Bhatkal alias Shahrukh alias Imran alias Immu.

Instead of nabbing the suspects, the Delhi police and ATS preferred monitoring their movements. The three were reportedly staying on rent on the third floor of Habib Apartments, next to Palace Talkies in Byculla (East). The building is a couple of minutes from Byculla police station. Habib Apartments is at one end of the Byculla bridge while the police station is at the other.

“The three suspects landed in Mumbai early last year. They got in touch with a real estate broker, Sultan Khan, who also stays at Habib Apartments. Another tenant, Rubina Qureishi, had asked Khan to look for someone who could rent her apartment,” said a source close to the investigation. Habib Apartments is an old groundplus-three structure next to Byculla railway station.

“The trio approached Khan and took the room on a rent of around Rs 8,000 per month,”
said the source. “They posed as call centre employees.” The ATS called Khan and Qureishi for interrogations.

The Delhi police came to know of the IM module in Mumbai in end-November, when they were tracking a mobile number that belonged to a suspected IM member in Kolkata. The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, fled Kolkata in November. In end-November, the Delhi police also arrested six IM men from Bihar and Chennai who gave statements regarding the module in Mumbai. The Delhi cops then came to the city.

All the three men staying at Habib Apartments in Mumbai remained clean shaven and spoke little to other residents in the building. The state ATS recently activated all its contacts in Mazgaon and Byculla to rent a room in Habib Apartments to monitor the suspects, but no room was available.

One of the three is suspected to have gone to the Khetwadi area on July 11 or 12 and stolen an Activa scooter. The scooter was taken to the oil mill, which is filled with garages, near Byculla police station and given for repairs. “This is where a bomb was fitted into it,” the source added.

A garage mechanic who spoke to the suspects about a defect in the scooter had been earlier summoned by the ATS and his statement recorded. He was cleared from suspicion then. When asked who fitted the bomb into the scooter, the police did not reply.

The ATS had been tapping a mobile number being used in Mumbai, 9433524***, which had been issued in Kolkata. This number, different from the one tracked by the Delhi police, is suspected to have been used by Imran alias Bhatkal. Surprisingly, the police were unsure if Imran was Bhatkal. The number, obtained on fake documents, is now switched off. “ATS officials were in the process of verifying if Imran was Bhatkal, but by then he and his accomplices fled the city,” said a source.

On the day of the blasts, all three suspects are suspected to have carried one bomb each and headed to the different locations, said sources. They returned before the blasts.

During their stay in Byculla, Imran left and returned to Mumbai several times, but was never tracked by the police. He allegedly engineered the Delhi high court blast, took part in the German Bakery blast, the Ahmedabad blasts and other attacks.

A man suspected to be Yasin Bhatkal and two Pakistanis rent a flat in Byculla in April-March 2011 and do recces of Mumbai
On July 11 or 12, the IM men steal a Honda Activa scooter from Khetwadi near Grant Road and take it to Byculla
A bomber rides the scooter to a spot in Zaveri Bazar. Two other tiffin bombs are also planted, one in a dustbin in the Opera House area and the other on the roof of a bus-stop in Dadar
On the evening of July 13, the bombs explode. The final death toll at Opera House is 15, Zaveri Bazar 11 and Dadar 1. Over a hundred are injured
In November, six IM men held by Delhi cops speak of a Mumbai cell. The cops also track a Kolkata number, which indicates an IM cell in Mumbai
The three men staying at Byculla get wind of the Delhi arrests and flee Mumbai some time in mid-December

The Times of India, January 17, 2012