A day after arresting terror suspect Abdul Samad (23) in connection with the February 13 Pune blast case, his interrogators from Maharashtra’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and central intelligence agencies are in a fix: Is he the German Bakery bomber or not?
“The facial resemblance between Samad and the man who planted the bomb at German Bakery,” a senior interrogator told Hindustan Times, “is great.”
He added, after a pause, “We are trying to verify if he is the same man, but at this stage it is not certain that he was the bomber/planter.”
A CCTV camera over the cash counter at the Bakery had captured images of the Bakery bomber, with a stubble and cap over his head. Till Samad was arrested at Mangalore’s Bajpe airport on Monday, counter-terror officials had suspected his brother of being behind the Bakery blast. Samad’s brother is alleged to be top Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mohammad Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal and Shahrukh.
Fugitive since 2008, Zarar is said to be a vital suspect in the terror plots allegedly orchestrated by IM’s two top founders-cum-controllers Riyaz Shahbandri alias Riyaz Bhatkal and his elder brother Iqbal Shahbandri.
The ATS and Intelligence Bureau suspect the Pune blast was carried out on the orders of the Shahbandri duo who are allegedly hiding in Pakistan along with Zarar now.
“Samad has been claiming he is not involved in the blast and that he was in Bhatkal, Karnataka on the day, attending a marriage, but we are verifying his statements still,” said the interrogator.
Another counter-terror official said, “We are looking into the possibility of Yasin Bhatkal and Samad being brothers, resemble each other. We suspect Samad had a role to play in the Pune blast.”