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NIA may get access to grill LeT bomb-maker Ghani in Paris

The move comes after a team of French investigators questioned suspected Islamic State (IS) operative Subhani Haja Moideen in Kochi this week.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2018 23:28 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
NIA,LeT,Paris
NIA Team may get an opportunity to grill alleged Lakshar-e-Taiba bomb maker Mohammad Usman Ghani, jailed in France in connection with the 2015 Paris terror attack.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

After a team of French investigators questioned suspected Islamic State (IS) operative Subhani Haja Moideen in Kochi this week, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) may get an opportunity to grill alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba bomb-making expert Mohammad Usman Ghani, jailed in France in connection with the 2015 Paris terror attack.

A court in Kochi has issued a so-called letter rogatory for the NIA to interrogate Ghani, officials at the agency said on condition of anonymity. A letter rogatory is a request by a court to a counterpart in a foreign country for judicial assistance.

NIA believes that Ghani, who was arrested from Austria after the Paris attack, had been in touch with David Coleman Headley, a Pakistan-origin US terrorist who plotted the 2008 Mumbai terror strike.

“Besides his suspected Headley nexus, we fear he trained some of the Indians who slipped out to war-torn Iraq and Syria to fight for Islamic State,” a senior NIA officer said.

Ghani and Algerian IS suspect Adel Hadaddi were arrested from Austria two months after the Paris attack, in which gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a stadium, a restaurant and two others places, killing 130 people and maiming hundreds.

A multinational investigation team found that Ghani and Haddadi had travelled with a team of refugees to the Greek Island of Leors a month before the attack. Soon after the Paris attack, both resurfaced in Austria and applied for asylum. Both were arrested and handed over to France. Investigator found they had been in touch with two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at a stadium in Paris.

NIA officials said Ghani was an expert in making bombs and grenades, and interrogating him could help the agency glean information on LeT’s links with other global terror outfits. LeT, based in Pakistan, is blamed for several attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai strike.

Moideen, an accused in the Kanakamala terror plot that intended to target many leaders of south India, had told the NIA that he had fought for IS in Iraq and Syria in 2015.

First Published: Dec 07, 2018 23:27 IST