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Navi Mumbai, the new terror hub

ATS officials said that three cars - one that exploded in Ahmedabad and two found with explosives in Surat - had been stolen from Navi Mumbai, reports Tushar Srivastava.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2008 01:32 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Once Haywood's laptop was logged in to the Internet, anyone across four floors could have conceivably used the same connection. On Saturday, when the threat mail was sent to television channels, his Wi-Fi was switched on.

Haywood, who came to India on August 26, 2007, said he had complained to VSNL in January that his Internet bills were bloated. "I found that my Net usage had suddenly increased and I started getting inflated bills," said Haywood.

Investigators said this is what might have happened: someone entered the building with a laptop, logged in as Haywood's Wi-Fi was switched on, sent the e-mail and walked away. This would take no more than 10 minutes.

The IP address, as it turned out in this case, had been traced to Haywood, since it was his Wi-Fi connection. All that investigators may get would be the machine address of the laptop, if it got stored in the router.

But ATS officials continue to question the American family. "We are not saying that they are suspects, but at the same time we cannot, at the moment, give them a clean chit," said Parambir Singh, additional commissioner of police (ATS).

The Maharashtra connection strengthened as ATS officials announced earlier in the day that three cars — one that exploded in Ahmedabad and two found laden with explosives in Surat — had been stolen from Vashi, Turbhe and Nerul in Navi Mumbai.

But security agencies are unclear who carried out the bombings - the Indian Mujahideen (IM) is being discussed ad nauseum, though it isn't clear if such an organisation even exists: The IM has taken credit so far for the UP blasts last November, the Jaipur blasts this May and the Ahmedabad blasts on Saturday.

Officers are running checks on activists of the banned SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) across Maharashtra. "We believe that there are some SIMI activists in the IM. But this does not mean that IM is a front for SIMI. There may be SIMI activists within IM, and vice versa," a senior intelligence official told Hindustan Times.

Another theory that the security establishment is mulling over is that the Ahmedabad and Bangalore blasts were carried out by different groups. And in the Ahmedabad blasts, they said at least two bomb-makers would be needed to execute a series of blasts of this magnitude.

Meanwhile, a set of data released by the US National Counter-terrorism Center shows that India was the fourth worst hit by terrorism in 2007, after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. About 17,000 people have been killed since 2004 in 3,197 terrorist hits in the country.

(With Nandini Iyer in New Delhi, G. Mohiuddin Jeddy in Navi Mumbai and Presley Thomas in Mumbai)