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The crackdown on car thieves operating from and around the city following the July 26 serial blasts in Ahmedabad [Images] led the Mumbai police to the first of the five Indian Mujahideen [Images] members who were arrested on Wednesday.
Bombers travelled to Pak via Iran: Cops
"We had received information from car thieves and others that there was one Afzal Mutalib Usmani who was involved in the theft of cars and based on further information we tracked him to a railway station in Mhau in Uttar Pradesh [Images] almost a month ago," a senior crime branch official said.
The crime branch of the city police had begun cracking down on gangs of car thieves after it was revealed that four cars, two used in the July 26 Ahmedabad serial blasts and two found unexploded in Surat [Images], were stolen from Navi Mumbai.
Mumbai police said it had arrested five persons, all members of terror group Indian Mujahideen, accused of having planned or executed blasts across the country since 2005, including the recent serial blasts in Delhi [Images], Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
"Afzal was accused in a 1996 attempt to murder case and had nine cases against him including one under MCOCA," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said.
After nabbing Afzal, the police learnt that he had stolen the cars from Navi Mumbai and planted the car bombs at the Ahmedabad civil hospital and marketplace, officials said.
"After the blasts, Afzal allegedly went with Atif, one of the main members of Indian Mujahideen, and a group of 10 to 12 persons to Delhi," they said.
From Delhi, he travelled to other parts of the country including Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh [Images], before returning to UP, officials said.
Afzal was allegedly close to Roshan Khan, one of the founders and main operatives of IM along with arrested Mohammed Sadiq Shaikh and was on a mission based on instructions issued by him, crime branch officials said.
"Afzal, who was nabbed in Uttar Pradesh, gave details regarding the terrorists who were killed in Delhi and his other accomplices in Mumbai," they said.
The descriptions and details given by Afzal helped police nab the four others of the group from north-east suburbs of the city, officials said.
According to the police, Sadiq is one of the core members of IM and was liasoning with agencies from Pakistan like the Inter Services Intelligence and Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
One of the other arrested persons Mohammed Arif Shaikh had made bombs used by the group since 2005 and equipment like the gelatine and ammonium nitrate came from a storage centre that Roshan Khan had created in Karnataka, crime branch officials said.
Another member of the group, Mohammed Zakir Shaikh, who is a scrap dealer by profession, was also involved in placing unexploded bombs in the city of Surat.
The police are still on the lookout for other persons who were involved in the theft of cars from Navi Mumbai with Afzal.
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