Leads point to 'silent cell'
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Leads point to 'silent cell'

Agencies are veering round to a common theory on Mumbai blasts, report Abhishek Sharan and Haider Naqvi.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2006 03:35 IST

After criss-crossing the country in search of 11/7 clues — and activating investigation channels in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh — agencies are veering round to a common theory.

A “standalone or silent module” might have been used to trigger the 11/7 blasts. Disclosures by arrested members of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) indicate that the outfit did not rely on the Mumbai module.

Security agencies have not been able to zero in on the real perpetrators and are working on hypotheses — based on leads thrown up by the “suspects” and striking similarities in the modus operandi of the bombers in Mumbai and other places like Delhi and Varanasi.

“There is a strong possibility of a common module at work and there’s more than one reason to believe so,” said a senior intelligence official in Uttar Pradesh.

“The real executioners are still at large and this forms the basis for the common line of thought.” This is why SIMI activists interrogated or arrested in connection with the Varanasi temple blast, were questioned once again after the 11/7 blasts and “inputs ferreted out point to a common module.”

Endorsing the “silent cell” theory, an anti-terrorist squad (ATS) official in Mumbai said the interrogation of the LeT’s western India commander Faisal Sheikh, directly controlling Mumbai module, did not throw up anything specific.

Faisal had been trying to stonewall interrogators by feigning ignorance and throwing them off the trail with a “mixture of defiance and irrelevant information.”

According to the ATS official, Faisal “probably did not know much about the blasts”.

He was apparently tasked by LeT’s India commander Azam Cheema to recruit and arrange for the training of Lashkar recruits at the outfit’s base at Bhawalpur in Kashmir.

However, the anti-terrorist cell has not given up hope. While some senior officials expect Faisal to eventually “sing”, others feel that “Faisal does not really know much about the 11/7 blasts though he is definitely a part of LeT’s larger operation.”

A senior ATS official said, “Probably, the Lashkar leadership, led by Raheel, used another module. The Lashkar has a complex hierarchy web and the cadre are informed about its operation on a need-to-know basis. “Faisal’s module was probably kept in the dark about other “cells” in the city, but we are trying to track the the 11/7 module,” said a senior officer.

Police commissioner A.N. Roy said, “Some of those arrested seem to be related to the conspiracy. But we are looking for those who actually executed it. Raheel could be one of the masterminds.”

First Published: Aug 06, 2006 03:35 IST