The busy fast food outlet outside Andheri station (west) that was targeted
Scared Away By CCTVs & Police Presence
Mumbai: The Indian Mujahideen (IM) planned to blow up the eatery in Andheri where its name had been decided in 2008, but was discouraged by the CCTVs and security, said state anti-terrorism squad sleuths.
IM top operative Yasin Bhatkal and his accomplice Asadullah Akhtar alias Tabrez, who were caught in Nepal last year, have been brought to Maharashtra for investigation into their alleged role in the 13/7 blasts at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and a Dadar bus stand that killed 27.
“During interrogation, Ahmed Zarar Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal told us that he and his accomplices had recced the McDonald’s Andheri outlet twice with a terror attack on their mind because the place is always crowded. Bhatkal had sent a list of ‘possible targets’ to his mentor and wanted accused, Riyaz Bhatkal, for his approval,” said a source in the security establishment.
The fast food outlet outside Andheri station (west) is not just any other eatery for the IM.
Sadique Shaikh, another IM operative in jail for sending terror emails in 2008, had in a confessional statement before the crime branch said the name Indian Mujahideen was decided at a meeting at the McDonald’s outlet where he, Riyaz Bhatkal, Arif Badar (arrested) and Atif Ameen (killed in the 2008 Batla House encounter in Delhi) were present.
It was some time before the July 2008 Gujarat blasts. “Riyaz and the others discussed that they were not getting enough publicity despite triggering blasts and decided their organization needed branding. They first thought of Asaaba and then Al-Furqan. But both names were difficult to understand and, so, they finally zeroed in on Indian Mujahideen,” said a police officer. At the same meeting, they decided to send emails before and after the blasts to claim responsibility.
Before the July 13, 2011, triple blasts, IM operatives visited McDonald’s but decided against an attack. “The most difficult hurdles for them were CCTV cameras, police bandobast outside the station and a place to keep the bomb since citizens were more alert. This forced them to drop the plan,” said the officer.
Bhatkal, in the ATS interrogation, said he and his accomplices Naqui Ahmed, Tabrez and wanted accused Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu surveyed the Colaba market which many foreigners visit, the ATS office at Nagpada, the state transport bus station at Dadar (east), Gol Deol near Nagpada, Mumbadevi temple, the McDonald’s at Andheri, Juhu beach, the police commissioner’s and director general of police’s offices.
The Times of India, February 11, 2014