‘ATS knew of IM hand within month’

A day after it claimed to have cracked the 13/7 blasts case and arrested two alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives for their role,the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad said on Tuesday that,within a month of the blasts,it had found the IM was behind it.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:January 25, 2012 2:57 am

A day after it claimed to have cracked the 13/7 blasts case and arrested two alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives for their role,the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said on Tuesday that,within a month of the blasts,it had found the IM was behind it.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria had said on Monday that IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal was the mastermind and that the agency was also looking for two bomb planters it identified as A and B. Two men from Darbhanga in Bihar — Naqi Ahmed Sheikh (22) and Nadeem Akthar Sheikh (23) — had been arrested for their role in the conspiracy and another man,Mumbra resident Haroon Rashid Naik (33),who was already in custody in connection with a fake currency case,would also be charged for the blasts.

On Tuesday,Maria said the arrest of Haroon,first detained by immigration officials around August 23,based on a lookout notice,was among the first leads in the probe. There were also other leads,such as fraudulently procured SIM cards,he added. “We were working on him. We started with the hawala trail and we would have obviously arrested him only after sufficient homework. The role of IM was known to us then,” he said.

The ATS had also begun to identify and probe the “potential accused” in Mumbai around the same time. During the probe,the ATS was informed by its sources “about IM using bogus SIM cards and their movements being suspicious”,added Maria. “This was around November. The information was that a lot of bogus SIM cards are doing the rounds.” The agency claims it slowly zeroed in on Pune,Bihar and Mumbai. “They were using these cards for connectivity and were trying to get in touch with each other using these cards,” he said.

The probe also found that agents working with telecom service providers were cross-selling customer data,including all the documents of identity proof to rival operators or even anyone who wanted to buy it. Naqi,Maria said,had bought 700 such identities from an agent called Ganesh Tikole and was using it to buy pre-paid SIM cards.

“Naqi parallely ran a business of SIM cards from Madanpura along with his brother,” said Maria. “In the FIR,we have also shown a certain Imran as wanted as he had used such SIM cards for connectivity. It was during the probe that we found that Imran was Bhatkal that we were looking for.”

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