Ahmedabad blasts case cracked, SIMI did it: cops
Express News Service: Sunday, August 17, 2008
The Gujarat Police today claimed to have busted a terror module of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) involved in the Ahmedabad blasts on July 26 following the arrests of 10 persons, including the alleged mastermind Mufti Abu Bashir. According to the police, these arrests could lead to clues on blasts in other states as well.
While five—Yunus Mansuri from Bapunagar, Samsuddin Shaikh from Dariapur, Arif Qadri from Shahpur, Gyasuddin Ansari from Gomtipur and Zahid Shaikh from Juhapura—were arrested from Ahmedabad city, three SIMI activists—Imran Shaikh, Usman Agarbattiwala and Iqbal Shaikh—were picked up from Vadodara. Sajid Mansuri, who was absconding since 2001, was arrested from Bharuch.
One of the two masterminds of the blasts, Mufti Abu Bashir, was picked up from Azamgarh with the help of the UP Police. Sources said that the Gujarat Police had told the UP Police to track down the mobile number of Bashir. Following the tip-off, his phone number was being tracked for a fortnight and he was actually detained on August 14.
Bashir’s name had come up during the interrogation of SIMI activists who were picked up after the Ahmedabad blasts. Two of whom, Sajid Mansuri and Imran Sheikh were in Jaipur during the Jaipur blasts. Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia who was heading the investigation said, “The idea to trigger the blasts in various parts of the country including Ahmedabad was conceived in a terrorist training camp in Kerala, where Safdar Nagori and his brother Kamaruddin Nagori delivered instigating speeches.”
A similar terrorist camp was organised in Gujarat near Halol in January 2008 in which a number of youths from Vadodara and Ahmedabad participated. The conspiracy of the Ahmedabad blasts was hatched there. “Bashir and a computer expert from Mumbai are the masterminds of the blasts,” said Bhatia. Sources say the IT professional is Abdul Subban Qureshi who once worked with a direct selling agent of IT major Wipro.
“We had got human intelligence about the increasing activities at the residence of Zahid Shaikh in Juhapura area of Ahmedabad for the past several months. Following which Zahid was detained and during interrogation he spilled the beans on the other perpetrators of the terror act,” said a senior police official.
Meanwhile, while tracing lakhs of cell phone records of Ahmedabad city in past few months, DCB officials found that there were five numbers, which had only incoming calls. And all the calls were made through STD-PCO booths. And most of them originated from Juhapura. In the course of the investigation, it was found that Zahid Shaikh made the calls to Mufti Abu Bashir.
“Mufti Abu Bashir had purchased five SIM cards on the name of five local people and he had kept it with himself during his stay in Ahmedabad and the numbers went silent after July 26,” said Ashish Bhatia who has been heading the investigation.
Zahid Shaikh and Mansuri provided the logistic support to Mufti Abu Bashir and Qureshi, the two main conspirators of the terror plot, who stayed at a rented house in Vatva, Ahmedabd for around two months to plan the serial blasts.
Emphacising Bashir’s role in the blasts, Pandey said, “In fact, he (Abu Bashir) was in Ahmedabad when the blasts were carried out.”
Pointing to the kind of effort that was put in the investigation of the case Pandey said, “It was a joint operation of a number of agencies like the DCB, Gujarat ATS, Central Intelligence, Rajasthan Police, Hyderabad Police, Uttar Pradesh Police, Maharashtra Police and Delhi Police.”
Police officers are optimistic that the mystery of other terror strikes in country such as the Jaipur Blasts, the blasts at Gokul Chat and Lumbini Park in Hyderabad and courts in Uttar Pradesh may also be solved soon. “We have certain leads which suggest that the other bomb blasts may also be detected. Though, we cannot give more details on it as the investigations are on,” said Pandey.
Sources say that Sajid Mansuri and Imran Sheikh were in Jaipur on May 13, the day of the blasts. A SIMI suspect who was picked up by the Rajasthan police has spoken of a Sajid Bhai who was involved. Investigators suspect this could be Mansuri.
According to Bhatia, the bombs were made at Vatva and Kalpur areas of Ahmedabad and at Imran Shaikh’s house in Vadodara. Both Kamaruddin Nagori and the Mumbai IT expert (Qureshi) provided financial support to buy bicycles from Danilimda, Sarangpur and Shah Alam areas and other materials used in the blasts.
Police sources said vital clues to solve the jigsaw puzzle came from Hyderabad resident Raziuddin Nasir who was arrested from Hubli last year by Karnataka Police. Raziuddin is the son of Maulana Nasir, who was arrested by the Gujarat Police on October 31, 2004 from Hyderabad for his involvement in the murder of former minister of state for Home Haren Pandya. Raziuddin had told police that he had visited Pakistan to receive training.
The Hyderabad Police apparently exchanged the information with their Ahmedabad counterparts, which was followed by a long and tedious task to fit the pieces. “From here we started linking a long chain that ran through several cities and states and involved several people. We pieced together the information and clues and things fell into place. Leads to the blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat may also come out of the interrogation in a couple of days,” said Bhatia.
“Raziuddin had provided clues on SIMI’s activities, its links with Tamil Nadu based Al-Umma, to both Karnataka and Hyderabad police. He had also met Safdar Nagori late last year when Nagori made a secret visit to Hyderabad and resided in Saidabad area, where he discussed SIMI’s plans and views. He had also distributed jehadi pamphlets and CDs,” the police said.