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Akshardham plot hatched in Riyadh: Police

August 30, 2003 02:15 IST

Police on Friday said it had arrested five persons hailing from Dariapur and Shahpur areas of Ahmedabad in connection with last year's terrorist attack on Akshardham Temple.

Their interrogations had revealed that the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba had masterminded the strike, Ahmedabad Police Commissioner K R Kaushik said.

Thirty-two people were killed in the attack on September 24, 2002.

The conspiracy was hatched sometime during the post-Godhra riots, he said, adding the five accused had provided logistical support to the two terrorists who had stormed temple and were killed.

The police identified those arrested as Salim Sheikh, Mufti Abdul Kayoom Mansuri, Maulvi Abdul Miyan Sayyed (from Dariapur), Altaf Malek and Suleman Aadam Ajmeri (from Shahpur).

The police acted after getting information that some Muslim youths of the city, who were working in various parts of Saudi Arabia and were closely associated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the JeM and LeT, had come to Ahmedabad recently.

Salim Sheikh, who was picked up on Thursday night, said during interrogation that JeM and LeT terrorists had involved him and a Riyadh-based person from Ahmedabad, Rashid Ajmeri, according to Kaushik.

Rashid Ajmeri had directed his brother Aadam, who was in Ahmedabad, to aid them, Kaushik said.

The police immediately nabbed Aadam Ajmeri from his residence and his interrogation had revealed that he was called to Hyderabad a week before the attack and briefed about the conspiracy by two men -- Abutalha and Ayub Khan.

They also told him that two terrorists would come for the operation from Pakistan.

The police commissioner said Aadam Ajmeri contacted Mufti Abdul Kayoom Mansuri and Maulana Abdullah, who were then running a relief camp in Bawahir Hall in Dariapur.

A week before the attack, Aadam Ajmeri received the two terrorists, identified as Hafiz Yaseer from Lahore and Mohammed Farooq from Rawalpindi, at the city railway station, he said.

To a question, he said: "The terrorists were also shown the secretariat building as well the state assembly. But considering huge crowd and less resistance at Akshardham, they decided to target it.

"They also visited the temple twice and carried out a recce. On the day of attack, they were four of them including Aadam Ajmeri and Ayub Khan, who went ahead of the terrorists, in an auto-rickshaw."

Kaushik said the four had also surveyed other crowded places like the Bharatiya Janata Party office in Khanpur, Vishwa Hindu Parishad office in Paldi, Bhadrakali Temple in Karanj and the Mahakali Temple in Dudheshwar.

Ayub Khan and Aadam had positioned themselves near the Akshardham Temple before the terrorists arrived in an Ambassador.

Earlier, a few hours before leaving for the attack, Mufti Abdul Kayoom Mansoori had administered the shahadat namaaz (namaaz for martyrdom) to the two terrorists at a mosque in Kalupur, the police commissioner added.

The terrorists stormed the temple through Gate number 3 at 1630 IST and seeing that the attack had been executed, Aadam Ajmeri and Ayub Khan fled the spot.

Aadam Ajmeri dropped Ayub Khan at a railway station in Kalupur area, from where he rented an ambassador car and fled towards Vadodara.

However, it was still not known from where the Pakistan-based terrorists boarded the train, he added.

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