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Terror suspects were to flee

mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2010 01:18 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

Riyaz Ali (23) and Abdul Latif (29), the two terror suspects arrested by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Sunday for allegedly planning terror attacks in the city, had plans to flee to Pakistan on Sunday, March 21.

A senior ATS officer, who is a part of the team that is investigating the terror plot, told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that the duo would have flown to Pakistan through a third country, preferably Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was as per the instruction of their Pakistani handler, also called as ‘uncle’.

The officer, on condition of anonymity, said that the duo had applied for passports through a broker who had sought the help of a couple of agents for expediting the process. The trio was paid over Rs 1.5 lakh to obtain the passports at a short notice.

The suspects were told that they would get their passports on Friday (March 19), the
day they planned to strike at the targets — Vasundhara building at Bandra (ONGC), Mangaldas Market in South Mumbai and Thakkar Mall in Borivli (West).

“The broker and agents have been identified and we will soon arrest them,” the officer said.

The officer said that the duo received Rs 10 lakh from the Pak handler through Dawood’s hawala channels in the city. While Rs 1.5 lakh was spent for procuring the passports, some part of the amount was kept for their planned air travel and stay in the third country, if required. The dup had already spent some money on themselves and household items.

According to the officer, the duo’s Pak-links were revealed through Central agencies, which had kept “chacha’s” e-mail under surveillance.

“Abdul and Riyaz were net-chatting with the Pak-handler since the past three and half months. During this time they received instructions to select targets and the methods to strike them,” the officer said adding that the communications were made from a cyber café at Behrampada in Bandra (E) and another one near Thakkar Mall. The two cyber café’s have been identified.

While announcing the arrest, ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi had stated that although both the suspects were barely educated (both class 10 dropouts), their knowledge about computers was impeccable. Riyaz also had a good command on English.

In fact, it was the last couple of Internet chats between the two and their handler (which took place on last Wednesday and Thursday) that tipped off the security agencies, leading to their immediate arrest.

The officer also added that the duo’s motivating factor for the sabotage plans was not religion but only money as both came from a lower-middle class background.