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Linked to Lashkar, fan of Osama, Atif was part of 14 behind blasts: police

After interrogating Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan, the alleged militants who were arrested following the Jamia Nagar encounter...

Written by Neerajchauhan | New Delhi |
September 21, 2008 1:31:20 am

After interrogating Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan, the alleged militants who were arrested following the Jamia Nagar encounter, and scanning the laptop of Atif, who was killed in the operation, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police has reached the conclusion that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) are closely associated, and the link between them is the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.

“Atif headed the IM, which was getting operational support from SIMI. Their operations were being supported by Lashkar. Tauqeer of SIMI was asked by Lashkar to contact Atif and provide him help,” Karnal Singh, Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), said today. Tauqeer or Abdus Subhan Qureshi, alleged master bombmaker, is currently the most wanted man in the terror probe.

According to the police, Atif was the leader of a module of 14 young men, which visited UP, Ahmedabad and Jaipur to carry out bombings with the help of other modules. “We have arrested two of them, while 10 are on the run,” Singh said. Atif was killed on Friday along with another man identified by police as Mohammad Sajid.

All 14 men belong to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, and are Atif’s classmates or seniors studying in Delhi, Singh said. The group was inspired by al-Qaeda and its ideology, which, Singh said, was apparent from the books, a laptop and some documents found in the Batla House flat.

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Singh identified 13 members of the module: Atif (24), Sajid alias Pankaj (19), (both now dead), Shehzad alias Pappu (22), Junaid (27), Shahdab Bhai alias Mallick (27), Sajid (24), Mohammad Khalid (25), Arif (22), Shakil (26), Zia Khan (24) and Salman (25), Zeeshan (24) and Mohammad Saif (23).

The fourteenth man is yet to be identified. Police sources said Zeeshan, arrested from the offices of a private TV station last night, worked for a private company, Monarch International, on Vikas Marg. They added that it is likely the suspects are still hiding in the Delhi-NCR region.

Police said the IM module decided on bombing targets and time of attacks, and then discussed the plans with SIMI members in Ahmedabad and Uttar Pradesh. They travelled by train, planted bombs and returned to Delhi. They never used mobile phones during operations. In Delhi last Saturday, they went to Gaffar Market, Greater Kailash I, Barakhamba Road and Central Park in groups of two, and returned to the flat in autos, officers said. According to the police, Atif organised and supervised the bombings while the two Sajids made the bombs. Atif reportedly trained all the members in making bombs. Singh said they procured the explosives for the Delhi blasts from Karnataka. Said a source: “We have identified one Shahrukh in Karnataka who provided them with bombs. The manufactured bombs were brought here and fitted with timers. These timers were sourced from Delhi. We are raiding some shops.”

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Officials also said Atif travelled a lot and had contacts all over India. “Lashkar asked SIMI to contact Atif, who did not have a police record. He was inspired by terror activities and had researched terrorist strikes in Syria, Israel and other countries. He collected information on possible bomb-carriers like cycles, dustbins and auto rickshaws. Atif had also researched multi-barrel guns that were capable of killing several people at once,” said a source.

The Special Cell says it has recovered the camera mobile phone that was used to shoot a video of the Jaipur blast sites before the attacks on May 13. “On May 11, nine persons including Atif went to Jaipur to do a recce of the old town and returned to Delhi. On May 13, they went to the city again by bus, this time with bombs, and purchased bicycles there. They planted nine bombs. They had shot pictures of the bombs and attached them with the e-mail (sent from a cyber café in Ghaziabad),” said Singh.

Last year Saif and Sajid went to Varanasi, Shahdab to Faizabad and Arif and Junaid to Lucknow to plant bombs in courts, with help from other modules, police said. Singh said, “On July 10, 11 of them went to Ahmedabad, three stayed back and the rest returned on July 17. On July 23, they went to the city again, manufactured bombs with the help of others there, and after planting the bombs there on July 26, came back to Delhi.” Singh attributed the progress in investigation to intelligence sharing among Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad and UP Police.

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Delhi Police have sent the laptop, on which pictuers of Osama Bin Laden were found, the logo-designing software on which the IM logo was made, and other documents for forensic examination. They are scanning some accounts to track Atif’s finances and the source of funds to the IM.

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First published on: 21-09-2008 at 01:31:20 am

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