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Escaped ultras at LeT camp

Two terrorists, who had escaped from the custody of the Lucknow police two years ago, have resurfaced at a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba camp in Muzaffarabad. Haidar Naqvi reports...

india Updated: Jan 31, 2009 21:46 IST
Haidar Naqvi

Two dreaded terrorists, who had escaped the custody of the Lucknow police two years ago, have resurfaced at a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba camp in Muzaffarabad. One of them is even believed to have closely coordinated the November 26 terror strike in Mumbai.

Maqsood Ahmed and Mohammad Saeed, both Pakistani nationals, were on a death row when they escaped from district and sessions court in Lucknow.

The Jammu and Kashmir police unearthed their presence at the LeT's Abdullah bin Masood camp last month. They have shared the details -- extracted from an arrested Lashkar operative -- with the Uttar Pradesh police, groping in dark about their whereabouts.

J&K's Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda said Maqsood was coordinating with Lashkar's communication commander, Furqan, a name that had appeared in New Delhi's dossier on the Mumbai attacks.

"Furqan's name had surfaced as one of the handlers of the Mumbai attacks, based at Muzzafarabad camp. Maqsood is his point man, the LeT operative in our custody has told us," Khoda told HT.

"The details have been sent to the Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police," said the J&K police chief.

The LeT commander arrested in north Kashmir revealed that at the time of the Mumbai attacks, Maqsood coordinated between the terrorists holed up in two luxury hotels and Nariman House and Furqan.

With this news, uneasiness has started creeping in the elite STF and the Anti-Terror Squad. "We hadn't dealt with such militants so radical in their views and unwavering in their threats," said a senior official at the police headquarters. "They know each officer quite well. Worse, the module they set up in Uttar Pradesh hasn't been busted yet," he said.

Maqsood and Saeed -- coming from Goolarkot in Punjab and Sanghar in Sindh province of Pakistan -- were arrested near Faizabad in March 2002. They were given the task to revive a LeT module, which was non-operational since the arrest of its ideologue, Maulana Sadaat Rashid, in Uttar Pradesh.

Six moths before the STF, which then functioned against terrorists, netted them, the duo had killed a guard, Nitin Puttewar, and injured another at the CRPF headquarters in Jaroda, New Delhi.

They were charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and awarded death sentence by a Delhi court. On February 27, 2007, Maqsood and Saeed were brought to the Lucknow district court to appear in a case related to encounter with STF. They asked the accompanying policemen for permission to attend nature's call and emerged from toilet with guns. Firing indiscriminately, they escaped.

The Anti-Terror Squad, which now deals with terrorism, had sent photographs of the two terrorists to the J&K police in the first week of January. The arrested LeT operative, sources say, could easily identifie them.