A vessel similar to the one used by 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who attacked the city five years ago was intercepted about 12 kilometres from the Mumbai coast at midnight on Wednesday after its crew made suspicious calls to Dubai.
The Indian Coast Guard swung into action after the National Technical Research Organisation, a highly specialised technical intelligence gathering agency, alerted them about the calls being made from a Thuraya satellite phone, which was banned in India in 2010, from aboard MSV Yusufi, a vessel registered in Mandavi, Gujarat.
The raid team seized 28 goats, 436 crates of imported cigarettes (approximately worth Rs. 2 crore), mobile phone accessories and two television sets from the vessel.
Five persons aboard the ship were detained and questioned by a joint team of Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad, Mumbai crime branch, port zone police officials and Coast Guard, apart from central and state intelligence agencies. They were arrested late on Thursday.
The five men have been identified as Ahmed Adam Paleza, 45, Iqbal Hasan Umi, 41, Yakub Abubakar Thakra, 43, Abdul Razzaq Usman Mandwani, 32, and Yunus Asam Bolim, 30. They hail from the notorious Mota Salaya area in Bhuj, Gujarat.
The calls were being made to their handlers in Dubai and India, one of whom has been identified as Usman. The agencies suspect the boat was being used by the smuggling cartel now controlled by fugitive terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.