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Madani hand in Taj attack?

india Updated: Jun 10, 2009 00:31 IST
Abhishek Sharan

The audacious attack on Mumbai last November, which ended with the grand dome of the Taj Mahal hotel on fire, may have been executed with the help of Mohammed Omar Madani (50), the alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative arrested in Delhi on Thursday.

Madani is suspected to have provided logistical support to Lashkar operatives Sabahuddin Ahmed and Fahim Ansari, currently in judicial custody in a Mumbai jail for the 26/11 attack.

Described as a ‘top recruiter and number one operative of the Lashkar’s Nepal module’ by the Special Cell at the time of his arrest, Madani is being grilled to establish the nature of his collaboration with the two 26/11 accused, who were allegedly hosted by him in that country between March 2007 to January 2008.

Madani has also reportedly told interrogators that he recruited Kamal Ahmed Ansari, who is currently facing charges in the 11/7 serial train blasts case where a string of seven explosions claimed nearly 200 lives in 2006.

“In January 2008, Fahim handed over to Sabahuddin maps, photographs and videos he had prepared of the eventual 26/11 Mumbai attack,” said a senior Intelligence Bureau official, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the press. “We think Sabahuddin may have used Madani’s extensive network to courier the material to his Lashkar handlers.”

As late as the summer of 2008, Madani allegedly met top LeT bosses, including Zaqiur Rehman Lakhvi and Lashkar founder and chief Hafiz Saeed, during a visit to Pakistan.

Lakhvi has been named in the Mumbai Crime Branch’s 26/11 chargesheet as one of the masterminds of the attack.

Madani’s interrogators also suspect him of having offered logistical support to the suicide attack at the Central Reserve Police Force headquarters in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, on December 31, 2007. The attack was allegedly planned and executed by alleged LeT operative Sabahuddin Ahmed with the help of Mohammed Farooq and Imran Shehzad.

“The weapons and the men were to be later used in a major attack in Mumbai which got postponed,” Ahmed allegedly said, during interrogation.

A team from the metro’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is in Delhi to question Madani for his alleged role in helping those involved in the 11/7 serial blasts. Additional Director General of Police (ATS) K.P. Raghuvanshi was unavailable for comment.