Blasts probe floundering, no breakthrough

September 17th, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) Except for the identity of some suspects and the nature of explosives used in Saturday’s serial bombings in the capital, the special squad set up to probe the incident is yet to get a fix on the main conspirators, the motive and where the bombs were assembled.On the basis of eyewitness accounts, Delhi Police released five sketches of three suspected bombers who could have been behind setting off the low intensity bombs - one in busy Karol Bagh market, two in the commercial hub of Connaught Place and another two in the upscale M block market of Greater Kailash - that killed 24 people and injured 100.

But beyond that, investigators are still groping in the dark as to who could be the mastermind behind the serial blasts which bore a trademark signature to earlier blasts in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

“All are copycat bombings. The explosive used was ammonium nitrate, the shrapnel consisted of ball bearings and the detonators used were 9 volt batteries. But after that, we have hit a dead end because we do not have more positive leads,” said an officer closely involved in the investigations.

Right now, the several teams formed are chasing down the shadowy Indian Mujahideen whom the Intelligence Bureau believes could be a splinter group of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

The outfit has claimed responsibility for the blasts in all four cities and interestingly, tipped off media organisations about their intent minutes before the bombings. And in all the four incidents, the e-mails were sent from different locations.

But despite the best efforts of investigators to get a move on in the probe and develop leads that could unravel the conspiracy into all the four bombings, progress has been painfully slow.

“We have not given up. But somehow, considering the sophistication and meticulousness of these attacks, we know that a lot of planning was done to ensure that the perpetrators covered their tracks well,” said a police official.

For starters, the conspirators were ensured that the help of locals was not enlisted as otherwise the trail would have led back to them.

Though the Gujarat Police arrested the “so-called mastermind” of the Ahmedabad blasts Abu Bashir from Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh and the Rajasthan police nabbed Shahbaz Hussain for the Jaipur strikes, the police has not been able to push ahead.

Information on the actual conspirators, their network in India, their funding and the modules they have been tapping has been seriously wanting.

Besides, despite the several arrests the police has yet to get any “real information” on the Indian Mujahideen, its hierarchy and how big a network it enjoys - if it indeed is the organisation behind all the high-profile attacks.

“Questioning Bashir and Hussain suggests that Indian Mujahideen could be an offshoot of the outlawed SIMI. But that is still speculation now,” the official added.

Another top official, requesting anonymity considering the sensivity of his office, said it was still unclear from where these terrorists were getting their money and directions.

Police officials say Mumbai-based software professional Abdul Subhan Qureshi alias Taquir was a common link to all the bombs that went off across the country in the past two years.

“He (Taquir) could be a vital link to the terror strikes in the country. Police forces from six states - Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are after him. Only his arrest can lead to vital clues and maybe the unravelling of some of these bombings,” said a highly placed intelligence functionary.

Taquir’s name came up during the interrogation of Bashir last month. He told the Gujarat Police that it was the software geek who had sent e-mails to media houses claiming responsibility for the blasts.

But unless the police achieves that crucial breakthrough, the Delhi probe could well end up like the other blast investigations - a trail that turns cold.

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