3 held, LeT masterminds came from Nepal
THE MUMBAI Police claim to have made a major breakthrough in their investigations into the serial blasts by arresting three suspects.
Kamal Ahmed Mohammed Vakil Ansari (32) and his cousin Khalid Aziz Raunak Aziz Sheikh (24) were arrested from Basupatti and Malmal villages in Madhubani, Bihar, on Thursday. They were then flown to Mumbai.
Based on their revelations during interrogation, the police picked up Mumtaz Ahmed Maqbool Ahmed Choudhary (38) from Navi Mumbai.
Intelligence sources say the trio were not involved in the actual execution of the July 11 blasts. They had primarily been assigned the task of providing local transportation, logistics, assembling the bombs and planning the escape route for those who triggered the explosions.
The trio said the plan was executed by a group of 14 people, most of whom were sleeper agents of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) based in the Mahim and Navi Mumbai areas.
During their interrogation, they said at least two LeT operatives came from Nepal -- after crossing into Bihar -- to supervise the entire operation. "This is the first time that the Nepal link has been confirmed, though we were suspecting the involvement of militant groups based in Bangladesh and Nepal," an official said. Pakistan's ISI has a sizeable presence in Kathmandu and in areas along the Indo-Nepal border.
Kamal and Khalid said they had been staying in Mahim for the past few months, as the LeT's sleeper agents.
They said along with five others they had left Mumbai for Patna by a train on the night of the blasts. Kamal and Khalid said they suspected the other accused had crossed over to Nepal from Bihar.
"They said according to the original escape plan most terrorists were to go to Nepal, taking advantage of the porous Indo-Nepal border," said an official. "So Kamal and Ansari, who were assigned the task of planning the escape route, organised the plan accordingly." Ansari was familiar with the Nepal route as he had earlier gone to Pakistan for training in explosives using the same network.
The accused said they had taken the LeT operatives and other local agents for an extensive survey of the Western Line on which the bombs eventually exploded.
They said the use of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil in the explosions was an afterthought -- since the 43-kg RDX meant for the purpose was seized by the police in Aurangabad in May.
Sources said the bombers were believed to locals who received training in Pakistan.