ATS says 7/11 mastermind nabbed in Belgaum
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Maharashtra's Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid alias Abdullah from Belgaum in Karnataka, calling it their "biggest catch" in the July 11 Mumbai train blasts.
ATS officials, who had been camping in Bangalore, claimed that Asif was the man who masterminded the blasts and that police and intelligence agencies had been looking for him for more than three months. Asif was produced before a judicial magistrate and is being brought to Mumbai on transit remand, they said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, K P Raghuvanshi, ATS chief joint commissioner of police, confirmed that Asif "is the mastermind of the case... he was involved right from the planning stage of the blasts to their execution". Raghuvanshi did not give any further details.
The ATS had been looking for a Lashkar commander named Junaid after it busted the Aurangabad-based module involved in ferrying huge quantities of RDX, Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades. The haul was intercepted on the outskirts of Aurangabad on May 9.
ATS officials said that the cross-border handler of this module, identified as Junaid, could be the same man.
Junaid was directly in touch with Lashkar chief Azam Cheema and orchestrated the Mumbai blasts at his instance, claim ATS officials, quoting Intelligence Bureau.
This bolsters ATS' report that Faizal Shaikh, who it says was the kingpin of the blasts, had said during his interrogation that he was in touch with Cheema but had no instructions from him on the blasts. "The instructions must have gone to someone else," Faizal said.
Investigators said they had learnt that it was Asif who provided Cheema with the idea of carrying out such a strike. He was then entrusted with the task of identifying youths who could be trained for the purpose.
Once Asif achieved this through Ehtesham Siddiqui, Mohammed Sajid and a few other locals, he provided Cheema with the blue-print of the plot, ATS claims. Detainee Tanvir Ansari told the police that he met Asif when he was at a training camp in Bahawalpur in Pakistan.
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