Absconding for over 14 years, a key accused in the 2002 Kolkata American Center terror attack case has been arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Bihar’s Aurangabad district.
ATS officials on Sunday said although there was no case against accused Imam Hasan (in his mid 40s) in Gujarat, he was a member of Asif Raza Commando Force (ARCF) having links with Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami or HuJI, which had attacked the American Center in Kolkata and killed six policemen. The group reportedly wanted “to avenge the encounter of Asif Raza — alleged gangster and founder member of Indian Mujahideen — by the Gujarat Police” in December 2001.
Hasan, who was arrested on Saturday, would be brought to Ahmedabad and handed over to the Kolkata Police, officials said. ATS received information on Hasan’s whereabouts while keeping a tab on “people involved in anti national activities, sleeper cells and wanted accused in terror attacks in view of surgical strikes by the Indian Army”.
Hasan, a native of Bihar’s Gaya district, had changed his name to “Arif” and ran a small garment shop in Aurangabad, according to the ATS.
“Hasan had arranged the bike which was used in the American Centre attack and went into hiding in Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). His maternal uncle Jamaluddin Nasir is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the attack, after the Supreme Court commuted his death penalty. Hasan’s brother-in-law Adil Hasan was also a convict in the case,” an ATS official said.
The official said Hasan was an important member of ARCF, which was formed after the encounter of Asif Raza Khan in Bharuch district. The members of this force wanted to avenge his death and had plotted to target a police station in Rajkot, but later changed their plan.
According to the ATS, members of ARCF assumed that the Kolkata Police had helped their Gujarat counterparts in locating Asif and hence, they plotted to attack the CID, Bhawani Bhawan, in Kolkata, but changed their plan for security reasons. ARCF members then chose to attack the policemen posted at the American Center.