Two alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives, who provided vehicles used in 2008 serial blasts in Gujarat that killed 56 and wounded over 200, have been arrested by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The terror suspects identified as Mohammed Mobin Abdul Shakoor Khan alias Irfan, 32, and his cousin Ayub Raja Amin Shaikh, 28, were arrested in an Arms Act case from suburban Mankhurd on July 6 after they were found with a pistol, revolver and four rounds of ammunition, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria said on Tuesday.
"The two have been remanded in police custody till July 16. After our custody ends, Gujarat police and Mumbai crime branch, will seek their custody in cases for which they want them," Maria told reporters.
Gujarat Police is probing the July 26, 2008, Ahmedabad blasts and the case of explosives found in four-wheelers the next day in Surat. 21 bomb explosions had rocked Ahmedabad in a span of 70 minutes, killing 56 people and injuring over 200.
"The two had stolen four vehicles from near Mumbai of which two were used in Ahmedabad blasts, while the rest were driven to Surat," Maria said.
Two months prior to the blasts, the duo were told by their associate Afzal Usmani Mutallib, 36, who recruited them in the IM, that four-wheelers were required for packing them with explosives that would be used in the two important cities in Gujarat, he said.
Accordingly, Mohammed and Ayub had stolen two Maruti Wagon R cars from New Panvel and Vashi on the intervening night of July 7 and 8, 2008 and driven them to Surat where the vehicles were handed over to their associates, the ATS claimed. Two more vehicles - a Maruti 800 car from Nerul and a Wagon-R from New Panvel - were also stolen and were brought to Ahmedabad, Maria said, adding, "While the explosive-packed vehicles exploded in Ahmedabad, in Surat they did not."
The accused were also wanted by Mumbai Crime Branch for sending emails to various media organisations threatening about the impending blasts. 21 members of the terror outfit have already been arrested in this connection, Maria said. On 26 July 2008, four minutes before Ahmedabad blasts, an email sent by the IM was traced to a United States national Kenneth Haywood's Wi-Fi IP address in Sanpada, Navi Mumbai.
In August 2008, soon after a press conference by the Gujarat police in connection with the bombings, an email was sent by the outfit mocking the probe. The IP address of this mail was traced to the Wi-Fi network of Khalsa College in Matunga, in central Mumbai.
On 13 September 2008, when a series of explosions shook Delhi leaving at least 30 dead and over 100 wounded, the IP address of IM's email had been traced to a Wi-Fi network of Kamran Power Control Pvt Ltd, at 201-202 Eric House, 16th Road, Chembur.
After the blasts, the accused, who hail from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, had stayed in different parts of the country including Rampur, Bareilly and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Mohammed has at least 20 cases related to motor vehicles theft in the city, while Ayub also has a number of criminal cases including robbery and vehicle theft lodged against him. "Mohammed had met Afzal, a close aide of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, in Arthur Road jail in 2005. After Bhatkal told
Afzal that they needed four wheelers that could be used to trigger explosions in Gujarat, Afzal had in the month of May contacted Mohammed, who with the help of his cousin stole the four vehicles," Maria added.