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Bombers & their backers identified

india Updated: Jul 14, 2006 01:35 IST

FORTY-EIGHT HOURS after bombs ripped through Mumbai, the needle pointed to Pakistan. The intelligence agencies on Thursday confirmed that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was the "mastermind" of the blasts that killed about 200 people.

The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, identified the trio who planned and executed 11/7: Rahil, Zahibuddin Ansari and Faiyaz, linked to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Of them, Rahil had reportedly made an abortive bid to trigger a blast at Byculla railway station on March 11 - the eve of the anniversary of the 1993 Bombay blasts.

The agencies, which briefed NSA M.K. Narayanan and cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, said the blueprint and planning for Tuesday's blasts were made by the ISI while the "plan" was executed by "Indian operatives".  A top intelligence source said the serial explosions had all the "hallmarks" of an ISI operation.

Militants operating in the Kashmir Valley were not capable of such meticulous planning and could only carry out fidayeen attacks at sensitive places and plant bombs in crowded areas like markets.

"A lot of planning went into the blasts. This is typical of an ISI operation as was revealed during the 1993 Bombay blasts," an official said.

Rahil, Ansari and Faiyaz could be the local operatives the intelligence agencies hinted at. Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy told HT: "We are looking for Rahil, Ansari and Faiyaz who orchestrated the seven blasts." This has been confirmed by sources in the Home Ministry and the central intelligence agencies.

Roy said Rahil -- "a SIMI old-timer" -- had been leading a LeT module, while Ansari and Faiyaz were wanted in the Aurangabad explosives seizure case.

Chief of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) K.P. Raghuvanshi said Ansari and Faiyaz had brought in the RDX cache from Pakistan. Though the ATS arrested 16 operatives from Ansari's module, he and Faiyaz gave the police the slip.

Apparently, the module was receiving instructions from Junaid, ISI's operations chief for India. The police said the blasts could have been in retaliation of Gujarat riots.