On 09/24/2008 night Indian police in Mumbai launched a major arrest operation meant to catch SIMI and its offshoot – the INDIAN Mujahideen (IM) leadership in charge of many of the bombing terror attacks in India in the past three years since 2005. The operation was an outcome of the Indian Markets Blasts extensive investigation.
Investigators claimed the arrested men were part of the Indian Mujahideen group, which was involved in serial blasts all over India: The Mumbai Trains Bombing on 07/11/2006; the Hyderabad Attack on 08/25/2007; the Lucknow foiled plot from 11/16/2007 : the Uttar-Pradesh Multi Bombings from 11/23/2007; Jaipur Bombings on 05/13/2008: The Bangalore Bombs from 07/25/2008; The Ahmedabad Bombings the next day on 07/26/2008, The Delhi Markets Blasts from 09/13/2008 and many other smaller attacks and attempts. “Practically all” blasts since 2005, according to the investigators. The prime suspect in the attack, Rahil Abdul-Rehman Sheikh, was never caught.
Those arrested have been identified as:
Afzal Mutalib Usmani, 32, was arrested in Bel Tara railway station as he was about to board a train, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh. His arrest came after the Crime Branch started rounding up car thieves operating in and around the city following the Ahmedabad Bombings. During this probe, the police learned of Afzal Mutalib Usmani. During his interrogation, Afzal Mutalib Usmani spilled the beans, leading to the arrest of the other four. Afzal Mutalib Usmani is accused of planting the car bomb in the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital where around 39 persons were killed in the blast in the hospital.
Afzal Mutalib Usmani provided two stolen cars for Surat failure during July 9-10. He then arranged for other two cars for the Ahmedabad Bombings and delivered them to other accomplices at a rented house in Danilimda area on 07/16/2008. Afzal Mutalib Usmani then came to Ahmedabad on 07/25/2008 and met Atif Ameen. With the help of some 10 youths from Delhi and 5-7 local Ahmedabad youths, he had the bombs planted in the city. After the blasts on 07/26/2008, Afzal Mutalib Usmani left for Delhi with Atif Ameen, Qayamuddin Kapadia and 10 youths.
Sadiq Israr Sheik, 32, a programme engineer. He was arrested in Nehru Nagar, a suburb of Mumbai. According to investigators, Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh controlled the INDIAN Mujahideen group. He is believed to have planned all the group’s attacks along with Atif Ameen, one of the two militants killed by Indian police, on Thursday 09/18/2008 night, in Jamia Nagar area in Delhi (see – Delhi-Investigation). Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh, Atif Ameen and Riyaz Bhatkal, also known as Roshan Khan, who is still on the run, formed the core think-tank of the INDIAN Mujahideen.
Mohammed Arif Sheikh, 31, was arrested in Kurla, a suburb of Mumbai. Mohammed Arif Sheikh is suspected of fixing the electronic circuits in the bombs used in the serial blasts mentioned above.
* Mohammed Zakir Sheikh, 28, was arrested in Bhiwandi, Uttar Pradesh. He is a scrap dealer by profession and was a frequent visitor to Surat. Mohammed Zakir Sheikh, police said, had admitted to his role in the Ahmedabad Bombings and the bombs and explosives recovered in Surat failure.
*Sheikh Mohammed Ansar, 31, a computer engineer. He was arrested in Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai.
All the suspects have roots in Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh. Police said the five arrested men received training from the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami HUJI-B in Pakistan and Bangladesh and were controlled by a man in Pakistan identified as Amir Raza Khan, the coordinator of Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh.
Amir Raza Khan’s brother, Asif Raza Khan, was killed by Gujarat police in an encounter in Rajkot district in 2001, was an associate of Aftab Ansari, an accused in the American Centre attacks in Kolkata on 01/22/2002.
The Crime Branch also recovered a cache of arms from locations in Kurla and Sewri, including 10 kg of gelatine and ammonium nitrate, 15 detonators, 8 kg of ball bearings, four fully active electronic circuits, a sub-machine carbine, two 0.38 revolvers, 30 cartridges of 9 mm and eight cartridges of 38 mm.
“In the last email sent out by the INDIAN Mujahideen, it was specifically stated that Mumbai was the next target,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gaffoor told a press conference. “The recovery of such a large quantity of explosives shows that the threat was absolutely real.”
The five accused are also responsible for planting bombs in the 7/11 Mumbai Trains Bombing . Investigators say the group arrested had identified themselves to the locals as Pakistanis.
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