Man wanted for 2000 Red Fort terror attack arrested at Delhi airport
A 37-year-old suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant, allegedly involved in the 2000 Red Fort terror attack, was arrested on Wednesday evening from Delhi airport by a joint team of the Delhi Police special cell and anti-terrorist squad (ATS) of Gujarat Police. Police claim the accused, Bilal Ahmed Kawa, was the same person they had been looking for since the day of the attack on December 22, 2000.
MM Oberoi, joint commissioner of police (special cell) confirmed Bilal Ahmed arrest. “He had come to Delhi from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir by flight. We are interrogating him to verify his antecedents and probe the purpose of his Delhi visit,” said Oberoi.
Bilal is being interrogated at the Lodhi Colony special cell. Special cell officials said Bilal Ahmed was in the business of manufacturing leather jackets in Kashmir. He has told interrogators that he had been visiting Delhi every year for business purpose.
“Why he could not be arrested in the last 17 years is a matter of investigation. Though he has been denying his role in the Red Fort attack, we have enough evidence against him to prove that he was a key accused in the shoot out,” said a special cell officer associated with the probe.
Six LeT terrorists had stormed Red Fort on December 22, 2000, and opened fire, killing three security personnel. The army personnel present in the Fort had retaliated but the terrorists managed to escape. The terrorists had sneaked into the Red Fort on the pretext of watching the light-and-sound show . A case was registered at the Kotwali police station.
According to police, during investigations they learnt that Rs 29.5 lakh was transferred through hawala and through various bank accounts in Bilal Ahmed’s name. This amount was deposited in Bilal Ahmed’s account by Mohammad Arif alias Ashfaq Ahmed, the mastermind of the Red Fort attack. Ashfaq Ahmed had received the money through hawala from his handlers apparently based in Pakistan. The money was utilized in the funding of the terror attack, said police.
The Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against the prime accused Ashfaq Ahmed and 21 others in February 2001. However, the court framed charges only against 11 people, including Ahmed.
“Bilal Ahmed continued to evade arrest and was hiding in Jammu and Kashmir. The law enforcement agencies were looking for him since then,” said the officer.
Pramod Kushwah, deputy commissioner of police (special cell), said, “We arrested the suspect after it was confirmed that he was the same man we had been looking for in the Red Fort terrorist shoot out case.”