ATS ready to grill American Center attack mastermind

Aftab Ahmed Ansari could be linked to at least one of the suspects behind the Ahmedabad serial blasts in 2008,police sources said.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: February 23, 2012 3:20:02 am

After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) brought Aftab Ahmed Ansari,the alleged mastermind of the 2002 attack on the American Center in Kolkata,for trial,the state anti-terrorist squad (ATS) is ready to grill him for his alleged connections with the terror outfits which are suspected to have Gujarat on their radar.

Ansari could be linked to at least one of the suspects behind the Ahmedabad serial blasts in 2008,police sources said.

Sources in the ATS said although they didn’t have a fixed agenda to grill him,they have sought permission from the Centre to allow the agencies in the state to question Ansari.

“Ansari is an important man for Gujarat since he is connected both with underworld gangs and terrorist outfits. He was an operative of the Asif Raza Commando Force that had links with the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami (HuJI). Asif and Ansari were among the main leaders of the commando force,” sources said.

After Asif was killed in Rajkot in 2001 while trying to escape from police custody,Amir Raza took over the force and Ansari assisted him.

Ansari and Asif were found camping in Rajkot after kidnapping a businessman Bhaskar Parekh.

The state agencies had found out that Parekh’s kidnapping was done to collect funds for Amir’s force,police officials said.

Ansari had handled the force for several years before fleeing to Dubai in 1999.

“Ansari holds key information about Indian Mujaihideen founder,Amir Raza Khan,who is believed to be hiding in Karachi,” officials said.

After the Ahmedabad serial blasts,the Gujarat Police had probed the involvement of Amir Raza and declared him as the leader of Indian Mujaihideen,who had masterminded the blasts with Bhatkal brothers — Riyaz and Yasin.

The Ahmedabad Crime Branch that is probing the serial blasts case are still hunting for Bhatkals and Amir.

The sources said Ansari was using his underworld connections to raise funds for terrorist outfits.

Police officials believe he had a good hold in Gujarat with the help of his underworld connections with Abdul Latif gangs that dominated the state for several years.

The state probe agencies may question him outside Gujarat if the Centre permits.

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