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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Once 7/11 suspect,Ansari may have the answers

Following the 2006 train blasts in Mumbai,investigators had initially suspected the possible hand of Zabiuddin Ansari

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore | Published: July 2, 2012 12:42:46 am

Following the 2006 train blasts in Mumbai,investigators had initially suspected the possible hand of Zabiuddin Ansari — now known as Abu Jundal and suspected to have been in the control room for the 26/11 attacks — given the fact that he was already the prime suspect in the arms haul from Aurangabad a couple of months earlier. Subsequent investigations into the 7/11 train blasts,however,took the Maharashtra ATS away from Ansari to 10 alleged Pakistani infiltrators from the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The chargesheet by the Maharashtra police now states that the LeT infiltrators carried out the 7/11 blasts with the support of SIMI activists from Mumbai under the remote co-ordination of a former Mumbai resident,Mohammed Rahil Ata-ur Sheikh,and LeT commander Azam Cheema.

Investigators are now hoping that the arrest of Ansari,given his proximity to the LeT’s top leadership and the Indian Mujahideen leadership in Pakistan,will help answer questions on 7/11.

“In 2006 when it was discovered that RDX was the explosive material used to carry out the July train blasts,it was initially suspected Zabiuddin Ansari may be involved because he had escaped following the May 2006 seizure of RDX and weapons by the Maharashtra ATS. The investigations,however,took another direction later,” a senior security official said.

The seizure had led to the arrest of 21 suspects but two of the main players,Ansari and Fayaz Kagzi,managed to escape.

The seizure had pushed LeT’s commander for India operations Muzammil Butt alias Yousuf,key suspect in 26/11,into a depression,according to information provided to security agencies by Sabahuddin Ahmad,an Indian LeT operative who was in Karachi between May and July 2006 and who was later arrested for the December 2005 attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Sabahuddin,along with US citizen David Headley,who has admitted to carrying out reconnaissance for the 26/11 attack on Mumbai,and Raziuddin Nasir,a Hyderabad resident who trained in Pakistan in 2006,are among a handful who have so far been privy to the reactions of key Pakistan-based terror operatives to the train blasts of 7/11.

According to Sabahuddin’s account,LeT operative Abu Anas,named by Headley in the 26/11 attacks as the keeper of an LeT safehouse,told him about the 7/11 attack immediately after it took place. “He told me that those directly responsible had not been arrested and had escaped to safe destinations. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (LeT operations chief) had restrained everyone from discussing the train blasts,” Sabahuddin has reportedly stated.

According to the account of a November 2006 meeting with Muzammil by Raziuddin Nasir,arrested by the Karnataka police in 2008,“Muzammil proudly claimed that the train blasts were carried out by the LeT.’”

Headley’s account of the blasts varies slightly. He was not in Pakistan then but when he returned from the US he asked terrorism accused Syed Abdur Rehman Pasha about the attacks. “He asked about the attacks and Pasha said he knew who the boys were,that they were local Indian boys,” says the NIA’s interrogation report for Headley.

In September 2008,arrested Indian Mujahideen operative Sadique Sheikh told the ATS that the IM had carried out the 7/11 attacks. Though IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal’s name had cropped up during the 7/11 investigations,the November 2006 chargesheet does not reflect any role of his outfit.

It names instead 10 Pakistanis —Aslam,Hafizullah,Sabir,Abu Bakr,Kasam Ali,Ammu Jan,Ehsanullah,Abu Hasan (all eight of whom escaped),Salim (who died in the blasts) and Abu Umed (who died in a police encounter at Antop Hill) — as the main perpetrators,supported by 13 Indians.

Senior officials involved in the 2006 probe have said they received no ground information to confirm the passage of the alleged Pakistani perpetrators into India and their exit as claimed by investigators in 2006 during the 7/11 probe. An Indian dossier given to Pakistan during talks in 2010,in fact,contradicts the police probe and suggests the IM’s role in the blasts.

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