‘Indian Mujahideen had attacked Kolkata American Center’ (Lead)

November 10th, 2008 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai/Kolkata, Nov 10 (IANS) The Mumbai police said Monday an Indian Mujahideen operative, held for his alleged role in the serial bomb blasts in various Indian cities earlier this year, was one of the two gunmen who had attacked the American Center in Kolkata Jan 22, 2002.Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria told mediapersons that Mohammed Saddik Israr Ahmed Shaikh, hailing from Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, had opened fire from a Kalashnikov rifle at the American Center in the West Bengal capital.

Nabbed from the Cheetah Camp area of north-east Mumbai, Shaikh had assumed the identity of “Sadaqat” at the time of the incident.

Shaikh, 33, and 19 others were arrested at different times in September-October from various locations around the country. They are all in police custody.

Among the four arrested in the first phase of crackdown by the police Sept 24, Shaikh was employed as a programme engineer with an electronics company in the city.

He had attended terror training camps in Pakistan twice - once for nine months and the second time for one-and-half months, the police said.

The remaining activists of the terror group or their accomplices in the serial blasts were nabbed in October.

The dawn attack on the American Center, when the guard duty was being changed, had left five policemen dead and injured 20.

No consular staff or US nationals were injured when four people draped in shawls came on speeding motorcycles and sprayed bullets at the guards.

The operation was completed in less than five minutes before the terrorists escaped from the scene.

Later, two Islamic groups, including the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam (HuJI) based in Bangaldesh, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

In Kolkata, police deputy commissioner Jawed Shamim said a team from West Bengal Saturday visited Mumbai to cross-check the details.

“Joint Commissioner of Police (STF) and I along with other officials went to Mumbai Saturday. On interrogating him (Shaikh), we found that he is Sadaqat operating under the name Sadiq,” Shamim told reporters.

“We were looking for Sadiq for a long time. We are trying to bring him to Kolkata,” Shamim added.

Shaikh, along with absconder Riyaz Bhatkal alias Roshan Khan and another Pakistani - Atif - are believed to be the founders of the Indian Mujahideen.

Shaikh’s role has also come to light in the July 11, 2006 serial blasts in Mumbai’s suburban trains, police said. He was one of the key IM persons in direct touch with Pakistan-based Roshan Khan and Amir Raza.

Shaikh, along with absconder Riyaz Bhatkal, alias Roshan Khan and another Pakistani - Atif - are believed to be the main founders of the IM around 2005.

The police have said the Indian Mujahideen played a central role in the recent serial blasts in different parts of the country and was also involved in almost all blasts in the country in the past four years.

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