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Notes from the terror manual

Notes from the terror manual

Author: Vignesh Iyer and Presley Thomas report
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: April 11, 2009

Introduction: HT accesses statements of 13 Indian Mujahideen men and reveals how the plan to terrorise the country was hatched.

Indian Mujahideen (IM), the terror outfit that cropped up mysteriously and kept investigating agencies across the country on tenterhooks, is an offshoot of the Asif Raza Commando Force (ARCF), responsible for the early-morning shootout outside the US Consulate in Kolkata in January 2002.

ARCF was a terrorist out fit co-founded in 2001 by underworld gangster turned-terrorist Aftab Ansari and Amir Raza, the brother of Asif Raza - who in a controversial encounter was gunned down by the police at Rajkot in Gujarat.

But the organisation did not survive for long, after the Kolkata police arrested most of its operatives. Amir Raza Khan fled to Dubai in 2001 where he met Aftab Ansari. Ansari, who had an established terror network, in consultation with Amir Raza, roped in' brothers Riyaz and Iqbal BhatkaL Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh, a Class 11 dropout from Cheetah Camp in Mumbai, was the last among the four key co-founders to join the network.

Sadiq, who was in touch with Asif Raza till 2000, was indoctrinated, trained in arms and explosives in various terrorists training camps' in Pakistan at the behest of Amir Raza.

In 2002, Riyaz Bhatkal offered Sadiq a job in Dubai. Sadiq's trip to Dubai marked the beginning of a terrorist group that was later called Indian Mujahideen.

Recruiting

In 2003, when Sadiq got back to India, he met his old friend Arif Badruddin Sheikh at Saraimir, Uttar Pradesh. Sadiq had asked Arif to scout for youngsters who would want to fight against the 'injustice' meted out to Indian Muslims. The youngsters were to be sent) to Pakistan for training.

Arif got Sadiq in touch with Aatll Amin Sheikh, Zakir Sheikh and Sharfuddin.

They were sent to Pakistan through the porous borders of Bangladesh. Once they returned, Sadiq through Aatif got in touch with other youngsters from Azamgarh, identified only as Sarwar, Asad, Shadab, Shakeel, Dr Shahnawaz, Saif and Saqib. Through Shahnawaz, Sadiq got in touch with Abu Rashid, a resident of Mumbai. Sadiq had managed to bring together a closed-knit group of around 18 youngsters from Azamgarh. Riyaz Bhatkal and his brother gathered youth from south India.

Terror planning

Soon after the youngsters trained in Pakistan, Amir Raza through an e-mail asked Sadiq to give him the results. The youngsters, with the help of key leaders Riyaz Bhatkal, Arif Badruddin Sheikh, Asif and Shahnawaz, planned blasts at Govindpuri in Delhi in October 2005, Sankatmochan temple at Varanasi in March 2006, in the Shramjeevi Express (2005) and in July 2006 in Mumbai.

Subsequently, blasts were planned at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh courts, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat and Delhi. Sometime in 2007, Sadiq asked Abu Rashid and Mohammed Sajid to collect explosives from a person and asked Sajid to store the explosives at his house in Andheri.

After two days, Aatif took the explosives to Delhi. The plan for the serial blasts in Gujarat was formulated with Riyaz and Aatif, and the duo met Sadiq in Andheri in June 2008. Sadiq in his confessional statement has said that the three had met near Mcdonalds restaurant in Andheri (West) and then walked down S V Road to a building's compound. Here Riyaz told them how hiring well educated youngsters had added sophistication to the planning.

Terror strikes

In September 2005, when Arif returned after training in Pakistan, Sadiq asked him to make a timer. Arif's first attempt to make a working timer using an alarm clock of Ajanta Company failed so he used a Samay clock -successfully.

Arif then made six bombs and gave it to Sadiq, which were used in the October 2005 Delhi blasts.

In January 2006, Mohammed Saif approached Arif and gave him 10 table watches to make more timers. Sadiq later paid Arif Rs. 16,000, after which Arif left for Saudi Arabia. The timers were used to carry out blasts at Sankatmochan temple and Varanasi railway station.

Again, on May 27, 2006, Sadiq bought six table clocks and asked Arif to make timers. A week later, Saif and Aatif brought cream-coloured explosive substances, milk kettles, 10 detonators, and asked Arif to make .three bombs in 15 days. The bombs were later used for the blasts in Gorakhpur. This continued, leading to the five blasts in 2007 in UP courts.

Arif has also said he made all the bombs that went off at Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, including the -ones recovered in Surat.

Fear psychosis

A series of 'terror' e-mails in 2008 teased and tormented both commoners and law enforcement agencies. The face behind the e-mails turned out to be Mohammed Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy, a 31-year-old software engineer who worked for Yahoo and earned Rs 19 lakh per annum.

The Bhatkal brothers doctored Peerbhoy: With his expertise to subvert routers and modems he was entrusted with the task of sending e-mails to media and government organisations moments before a blast would be carried out.

Peerbhoy searched for unsecure wireless networks in Mumbai. Iqbal Bhatkal asked him to compose a 'terror' e-mail a week before the Gujarat blasts, planned for, July 26, 2008. Peerbhoy continued to send mails with impunity as blasts were triggered in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi, and mocked state agencies, before his arrest.

- vignesh.iyer@hjndustantimes.com


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