Terror probe heads south, more leads uncovered (Roundup)

September 22nd, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Investigations into the various serial blasts that rocked Indian cities moved to the south of the country when a joint team of the Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau arrived late Sunday in a special plane at Udupi in Karnataka to unearth further leads. Mohammed Saif, one of the five arrested after a shootout in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar and suspected to be behind the Sep 13 bombings in the capital, accompanied the team to Karnataka to ascertain the source of the explosives used and to further unravel the network of the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

Senior police officials monitoring the probe believe the 13-member module of the Indian Mujahideen reportedly involved in at least six attacks across the country procured ammonium nitrate, ball bearings and other equipment to assemble the bombs.

In their day-long stay in the state, which was tightly choreographed, the team questioned several people in Manipal, 400 kms from Bangalore, and shepherded Saif to some likely hideouts.

Highly placed sources told IANS that the unit brought back a person who was a conduit for the explosives.

“We cannot reveal the identity of the person but he is a public call office (pco) owner who is an important link in the investigations,” said a senior police functionary.

However, Udupi district police superintendent Praveen Pawar said the Delhi team did not detain anybody in Manipal but only conducted investigations.

“The team has returned to Delhi,” said Pawar, declining to give details of number of people questioned and places searched.

A few members of the joint team who have stayed back are also expected to visit Dharwad where the state police unearthed militant training camps earlier this year to get more leads.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Karnal Singh, who heads the terror probe, Atif could be the mastermind behind the shadowy Indian Mujahideen who had sent Saif and Sajid to procure explosives from Karnataka.

“Atif gave them a number and asked them to meet a person there. The person gave them explosives and they immediately returned to Delhi,” he said.

The same explosives were used to assemble bombs at Atif’s Jamia Nagar house and were detonated in parts of Delhi - one in Karol Bagh, two in Connaught place and two in M block market of Greater Kailash I - by a module of 13 people, the police maintain. The blasts killed 24 people and injured 124.

Karnataka’s state home minister V.S. Acharya, however, maintained that the explosives were not manufactured in the state but transported to Delhi.

The probe has also fanned out to other parts of the country with the police in Uttar Pradesh tipped off on the possible sources of funding from where the Indian Mujahideen is believed to have received financial help.

Sources pointed out that information was being firmed up and there was every possibility of raids on some businessmen who with the help of hawala operators sourced money for the terror group.

While Saif was taken to Karnataka, officers from the south district police and Special Cell were jointly interrogating the three suspected terrorists - Zia-ur-Rahman, 22, Mohammed Shakil, 23, and Sakib Nissar, 22, - who were arrested Sunday from Jamia Nagar in connection with the Delhi blasts.

The hunt is still on for six other suspected bombers on the run.

In a related development, a man claiming to be the spokesperson of the Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) called up a television channel in Srinagar to deny links with the Indian Mujahideen and to condemn the September 13 bombings in Delhi.

A caller identifying himself as Abdullah Ghaznavi, the LeT spokesperson, said:”We condemn the recent bombings in Indian capital New Delhi and also denounce the propaganda that LeT has any links with the so-called Indian Mujahideen group.

“LeT does not believe in targeting innocent, unarmed civilians. We are engaged in fighting the Indian armed forces in Kashmir.

“Our struggle shall continue till Kashmir’s freedom from India. Attempts to link us with bombings against innocent civilians are condemnable as their intention is to malign our organisation.”

The Delhi Police has been claiming that it was the LeT that provided both the Indian Mujahideen and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India with both ideological and material support.

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