The metal shrapnel, type of burns (indicating use of ammonium nitrate in bombs) and blackening of body parts (pointing at boosters such as RDX) found in the victims of the twin blast in Hyderabad indicate the footprints of Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founders and brothers Riyaz and Iqbal Shahbandri
— from Bhatkal on the Konkan coast, now based in Pakistan — and the handiwork of mastermind Ahmed Zarar Siddibapa from the same town, say investigators.
In the past the terror group has triggered multiple bomb blasts in a single day — for maximum casualties — but, official sources said, the February 21 Hyderabad blasts indicate a sense of urgency on part of the group. Only two explosions were carried out with the possible involvement of bomb planters from outside the state not being ruled out.
Though little traces of the bombs have been found, the two devices were in steel tiffin boxes with explosive containing nitrate and other high intensity boosters such as RDX or PETN, used to raise the intensity of the blasts — a typical device Riyaz and Yasin designed for maximum fatalities.
"The Dilsukhnagar blasts are also an indicator that the Karachi project of using disgruntled and radicalised Indian boys against their own country is alive and kicking in Pakistan, where top IM leaders like the Bhatkal brothers, Dr Shahnawaz Alam, Assadullah Akhtar and Amir Raza Khan are based," said a senior official.
Convicted Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley had first disclosed details of the Karachi project to Indian interrogators in 2010.
He had named former LeT commander Major (Retd) Syed Abdur Rehman Hashim as the handler of the project after the latter had claimed that he engineered the July 11, 2006 Mumbai local train blasts using local boys. The 'local boys' were none other than the Bhatkal brothers and the Azamgarh module.
According to interrogation reports of arrested IM terrorist Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy, Yasin and Mohsin Chaudhary had planted the bombs at Lumbini Park, Gokul Chaat Bhandar and Dilsukhnagar in August 25, 2007 blasts in retaliation to the May 18, 2007 Makkah Masjid bombing by Hindu extremists in Hyderabad.
The interrogation of four IM terrorists arrested by Delhi Police last October also revealed that they were directly receiving instructions from Riyaz and Dilsukhnagar was one of the possible targets.
With the intelligence agencies constantly intercepting cross border communication between IM founders and their foot-soldiers, there is a clear threat to Indian hinterland from the group and its mentors -- LeT and Pakistan's ISI.
"The Hyderabad blast shows IM's capacity to target India within days of LeT leaders vowing to avenge Afzal Guru's hanging," said a senior official.