The Maharashtra State Home Department has recently provided DNA samples of alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Fayaz Kagzi, collected by its Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), to the Central government. The samples are expected to help Saudi Arabian officials to ascertain if the suicide bomber who blew himself up near the US consulate in Jeddah in July 2016 is, in fact Kagzi, an Indian national wanted in many acts of terrorism.
A native of Beed in Maharashtra, Kagzi is viewed as the mastermind and the ‘financier’ of the 2010 German Bakery blast and 2012 J M Road serial blasts in Pune. A close associate of the alleged handler of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, Kagzi is a wanted accused in the 2006 Aurangabad Arms haul case in which Jundal is currently facing trial. Kagzi is on the CBI’s Interpol list of wanted accused.
While Kagzi has not been shown as a wanted accused in the Mumbai terror attack case, sources say that Kagzi had taught Hindi to the ten terrorists who carried out the attack including executed Pakistani national, Ajmal Kasab. “The samples have been sent after the Saudi Arabian authority sought them. If they confirm that the samples match with those of the Jeddah bomber, then it would act as an evidence and help us close the cases against him,” a senior official of the State Home Department told The Indian Express.
On July 4, 2016, a man blew himself up near the United States consulate in Jeddah. The bombing in Jeddah was the first of three attacks to have hit the kingdom on the same day. The other two being reported near a Shia mosque in Qatif and a suicide bombing near Masjid-i-Nabvi (PBUH) in Medina. The Jeddah bomber was later identified as a 34-year-old Pakistani driver named Abdullah Qalzar Khan, who lived with his wife and family in the city.
However after the photographs of the bomber bearing a close resemblance to Kagzi were released by the Saudi Arabian authorities, the Maharashtra ATS decided to verify if the bomber was actually Kagzi, the Indian national wanted in many cases especially in Maharashtra.
“In 2006, when the Maharashtra ATS busted a huge cache of weapons in Aurangabad, Kagzi managed to escape to Pakistan via Bangladesh. He later shifted his base to Saudi Arabia and was assigned with the task of recruiting Indian national in the LeT fold. He was living there under a fake identity. In 2016, the Saudi Police released photographs of the Jeddah bomber and it resembled Kagzi. We therefore decided to probe if he was an Indian national who was living in Saudi Arabia under a fake identity,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In pursuit of this, the ATS obtained a letter rogatory (letter of request) (LR) from the special MCOCA court in Mumbai seeking information and documents that were collected during the course of investigation of the case. As part of the information sought, the state counter terrorism agency had requested to share the DNA profile, post-mortem report and photographs of the alleged bomber.
According to a senior security official, Kagzi fled to Pakistan via Bangladesh in 2006 along with Abu Jundal. He later shifted his base to Saudi Arabia to oversee recruitment of Indian nationals to LeT, but returned to Pakistan briefly before going back to Saudi Arabia. This was revealed by Abu Jundal. Jundal, who was deported from Saudi Arabia in 2012, also told interrogators that Kagzi attended the meeting held in Colombo in 2008 to plan the German Bakery blast.
Sources suspect that in 2014, after the IS gained prominence, Kagzi may have shifted his allegiance to the Islamic State and could have been tasked to carry out the July 4 attack. “The bombings in Qatif and Jeddah were consistent with the modus operandi of Islamic State (IS) in its targeting of Shia Muslims and US representatives and therefore it cannot be ruled out that Kagzi might have decided to join IS and could have carried out the attack to prove his allegiance,” said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.