Forty-eight hours after bombs ripped through Mumbai, the needle pointed to Pakistan. Intelligence agencies on Thursday confirmed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was the “mastermind” of the blasts that killed about 200 people.
The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, identified the trio who planned and executed 11/7: Rahil, Zahibuddin Ansari and Faiyaz, linked to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Of them, Rahil had reportedly made an abortive bid to trigger a blast at Byculla railway station on March 11 — the eve of the anniversary of the 1993 Bombay blasts.
The agencies, which briefed National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Cabinet Secretary BK Chaturvedi, said the blueprint for Tuesday’s blasts was made by the ISI while the “plan” was executed by “local Indian operatives”.
A senior intelligence officer said the synchronised explosions had the “hallmark” of an ISI operation. Militants operating in Kashmir were not capable of such meticulous planning and could only carry out fidayeen attacks or plant bombs in crowded places like markets.
“A lot of planning went into the blasts. This is typical of an ISI operation, as was revealed during the 1993 Bombay blasts,” said an officer.
Rahil, Ansari and Faiyaz could be the local operatives the intelligence agencies hinted at. Mumbai Police Commissioner AN Roy told HT: “We’re looking for Rahil, Ansari and Faiyaz who orchestrated the seven blasts.” Roy said Rahil, “a SIMI old-timer”, had been leading a LeT module, while Ansari and Faiyaz were wanted in the Aurangabad explosives-seizure case.
KP Raghuvanshi, chief of the Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), said Ansari and Faiyaz had brought in the RDX from Pakistan. Though the ATS arrested 16 operatives from Ansari’s module, he and Faiyaz gave the police the slip. Apparently, the module was receiving instructions from Junaid, reportedly ISI’s operations chief for India.
The police said the blasts could have been in retaliation of Gujarat riots.