One of the suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Mohammed Shareif Thakkar was highly motivated to have carried out a suicide attack and he may have delayed the attack only due to pressure on Pakistan following the 26/11 attack, said a source who is part of the Anti-Terrorism Squad’s investigating team.
The two — Thakkar, 33, and Mohammed Issac Mohammed Rashid Kumlakh, 29 — were arrested outside a bar and restaurant at Kapurbawdi in Thane on November 15.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) have booked them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
An investigator told Hindustan Times that Shareif and Kumlakh had access to all targets in the country. “They have been driving oil tankers for several years and have visited almost all refineries, power plants, petro-chemical plants and every such installation where oil tanker can go,” the officer said on condition anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“From our interrogation, we can say that Shareif was highly motivated and he could have carried out an attack even without using any explosive. He could have simply rammed his tanker into something inside an installation. The oil in the tanker would have been enough to cause a major damage,” the officer.
He said interrogations have revealed that power plants could have been on the list of a probable attack.
“A few years ago, the ministry of home affairs had issued an alert to look for such a plot,” the officer said.
“This has exposed a major chink in our security. It should have been common sense that we should have kept a watch on such people,” the officer said.
The two had access to the docks as well, he added.
He said the ATS men are checking the truck terminals and looking for drivers who might have been in touch with the duo.
“The companies outsource hiring of oil tanker drivers to contractors and beyond that they do not have capacity to carry out checks which could have led to major consequences had these two not been arrested,” he said.