The 11/7 serial blasts were part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s larger, pan-India plan to spread terror.
The blueprint, said intelligence sources, was fine-tuned in January and mid-February this year at the terror outfit’s training base at Bahawalpur in Pakistan by top leaders, including India commander Azam Cheema and ISI officials. The conclusion is based on information available with a central Intelligence agency and the Mumbai police’s interrogation of the 11/7 blasts’ accused.
Lashkar’s terror design included Mumbai, Delhi and cities in Gujarat. It had picked top commander Raheel Abdul Sheikh, Aurangabad’s Zahibuddin Ansari and Beed’s Faiyyaz Kagzi, for its pan-India plot. Faiyyaz was involved in the February 19 blast in Ahmedabad, in which the timer had malfunctioned, that minimized the casualties.
In late April, according to sources, IB had informed Maharashtra police that a huge haul of explosives and arms originating from Pakistan would land on the country’s western or southern coast. Based on the tip-off, starting from May 9, Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) seized 43 kg of RDX and 16 AK-47 from suspects affiliated to the Lashkar and the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from Marathwada.
A Lashkar operative, Mohammed Iqbal, shot dead by the Delhi police in March, had arranged for help from the Pakistani mafia to land the consignment. Raheel, meanwhile, had handed over around 9 kg of RDX to Faiyyaz to carry out the Ahmedabad blast and another four kg to two LeT operatives — Mahim resident and auto mechanic Firoze Ghaswala and computer engineer Mohammed Chippa — to set off a blast in Delhi.
But the Delhi police nabbed Ghaswala and Chippa on May 8. Hours later, based on their interrogations, they shot dead their Pakistani “contact” Abu Hamza near the city’s Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium. It was the search of Hamza’s belongings at his farmhouse that led to the seizure of May 9 by the ATS. It also revealed the existence of Lashkar’s city cell in Mumbai whose activities are controlled by Raheel and other commanders.
Senior ATS officers say the nabbing of Raheel (in Dhaka now), Zahibuddin (Pakistan) and Faiyyaz (Nepal) will help in cracking the 11/7 case “almost entirely”.