The shadow terror group Indian Mujahideen, five of whose suspected members were arrested in Mumbai, is controlled by a high-ranking functionary of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJi) from his base in Pakistan and had planned to carry out serial bombings in Mumbai next, police said Wednesday.
Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor told a jampacked media gathering Wednesday evening that the five suspects nabbed are in their 30s, belong to Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh - where other suspected terrorists linked to the recent bombings belong - and are highly educated individuals who used their academic expertise for their terror activities.
The Indian Mujahideen group, which includes the elusive Tauqeer, Aftab Ansari and others, is controlled by one Aamir Reza, a high-ranking functionary of both the Let and HuJi, from his hideout in Pakistan, he said.
He said the group intended to carry out their email threats of triggering serial bomb blasts in Mumbai. A large cache of explosives and arms was also recovered from the men.
The men were identified as Mohammed Afzal Usmani, Mohammed Sadik Shaikh, Mohammed Zakib Shaikh, Sheikh Mohammed Ansar and Abu Rashid.
“All have also been trained in 'a hostile foreign country' for prolonged periods in different aspects of terrorist acts like bomb-making, triggering blasts, etc,” Gafoor said.
At least one more terrorist, Roshan Khan, said to be the co-founder of IM, is absconding. The crime branch sleuths are on his trail, Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria said.
Maria said that the most shocking outcome of the investigations was that these terrorists have been linked to practically all the bomb blasts carried out all over India by the group since 2005, pointing to their sheer expertise, deep connections and the vast resources at their command.
They were directly connected with the July 26 serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, had links with the Sep 13 New Delhi serial blasts, as well as the previous July 25 Bangalore blasts and the May 13 Jaipur blasts, the police officials said.
The police are interrogating them to get to the bottom of the terror network.
Mohammed Sadik Shaikh acquired training in terrorist activities on two occasions, once for nine months and another time for one-and-a-half months.
Mohammed Shaikh Ansar is a software engineer and had acquired training in the “hostile country” in 2004.
Maria said that the five masqueraded as 'Pakistanis' in the underground terror network, but it has been revealed that they are actually Indians. They have been trained in all aspects of terrorist activities by the HuJi and LeT, he said.
The police officials refrained from naming the “hostile country”, though the obvious indication is Pakistan.
The Maharashtra government, acknowledging the efforts of Mumbai police in tracking down the suspected terrorists, announced a reward of Rs.500,000 for the investigating team.
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister RR Patil announced the cash award Wednesday. Incidentally, both Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, currently on a tour of Europe, and Patil were named as “targets” in the emails, sent by the Indian Mujahideen prior to the July 26 Ahmedabad and Sep 13 New Delhi blasts.