Pune was on terror map | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Pune was on terror map

mumbai Updated: Mar 28, 2010 01:33 IST
Presley Thomas

The arrest of David Coleman Headley (49), an alleged Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative in America in October, had brought Pune back on the terror radar.

In 10 months, investigating agencies sifted through numerous phone records and files to ascertain his activities during his stay at Koregaon Park. Headley stayed in Hotel Surya Villa, located half a kilometre away from the German Bakery where a bomb blast killed nine persons, including a foreigner, and injured 45 on Saturday.

Headley had visited Pune twice — in July 2008 and March 2009 — and had visited the Osho Ashram both times.

The US-based counter-terrorism unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had informed National Investigation Agency that Headley had conducted a recce of the ashram and the Chabad House — a Jewish prayer centre — in Koregaon Park. All spots that Headley recced are under high alert, said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Pune was last at the centre of terror activities in 2002, when Abu Zubaidah, a close aide of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden who was arrested from Faislabad in Pakistan, had told the FBI about possible terror activities in Pune.

Zubaidah had studied computer science in Pune before he went to Pakistan and joined Al-Qaeda.

The Mumbai Crime Branch had also discovered terror activity in Pune when it swooped down on Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives and arrested Mohammed Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy and four others. Peerbhoy, the brain behind the homegrown terror outfit’s media cell, was a computer engineer.

Investigations had led the crime branch to the Pune house that Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal —co-founders of IM had lived in.

The recent interrogation of Sheikh Abdul Khwaja alias Amjad — the 26-year-old LeT-trained Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (B) terrorist — revealed details of the terrorist organisation’s plans to land explosives in India. Amjad was supposed to land explosives at Surat in Gujarat, Bodar in Madhya Pradesh or at Chennai in Tamil Nadu, said sources in the intelligence bureau.

On December 27, a Pakistan-based affiliate of Amjad had squealed about the purchase of explosives at Surat, Bodar and Chennai. Sources added that the explosives were to be ferried to Maharashtra.

Police sources said there was an alert about a possible terror strike in Maharashtra on or before February 18.