Seven years after the Mumbai train blasts on July 11, 2006, arrested Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal has revealed that the explosive used in the attack was provided by the group’s Karachi-based co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal in order to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots and not Lashkar-e-Taiba as claimed by the state police.
As many as seven pressure cooker bombs exploded in local trains within a span of 11 minutes at the peak hours killing as many as 209 persons and grievously injuring another 714.
The Maharashtra police had charge-sheeted 28 persons and arrested 13. Yasin said that the blasts were the first joint operation of Bhatkal and Azamgarh-based terror modules. Azamgarh born Sadiq Israr Sheikh helped Riyaz in bringing the two groups together.
Sheikh came in touch with Riyaz in Mumbai in the late 1990s and was arrested from the city on November 24, 2008. The Azamgarh module was headed by Atif Ameen, killed in the Batla House encounter on September 19, 2008.
Though Yasin didn’t participate in the 7/11 Mumbai attack, his confession is an open secret among security agencies that the operation was of IM and that LeT or those arrested had nothing to do with it.
Despite Sheikh describing the attack in detail, the case was never reopened.
Yasin and Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi have told interrogators that the attack was designed to target Gujarati businessmen travelling in first class coaches. The RDX used in the pressure cooker bombs was supplied to Riyaz Bhatkal by a courier named Jalaluddin Mullah alias Babu Bhai, who was arrested by the IB and UP Police in June 2007. The timer bombs were made by Azamgarh module bomb makers Ariz Khan and Arif Badar, close friends of Sadiq Sheikh and Atif Ameen.
Although Maharashtra police arrested Ehtesham Siddiqui and 12 others in the 2006 case, the former Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) secretary of Mumbai cried before his interrogators claiming innocence in the case. Nearly two years after the blasts, SIMI’s president Safdar Nagori was picked up from Indore on March 27, 2008. Nagori is learnt to have begged his interrogators to release his close friend Ehtesham and hang him instead. Several calls made to the Mumbai Police went unanswered.