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Sleuths piece together the terror jigsaw

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | January 09, 2009 17:17 IST

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Imran Shehzad, who was assigned to blow up the Bombay Stock Exchange, also played a role in planning the Mumbai [Images] attacks.

Sources in both the Uttar Pradesh [Images] and Karnataka police told that Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed have spoken at length about the role played by Shehzad in both the Mumbai attacks and the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force camp at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, last January.

Shehzad, according to the UP police, is a resident of Bhimbar in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Along with Mohammad Farooq Bhatti, a resident of Gunjanwala, Pakistan, Shehzad was instructed by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] to bomb the Bombay Stock Exchange [Images]. They were asked to meet Sabahuddin Ahmed before they carried out the attack.

Bhatti and Shehzad were asked to help with the CRPF camp attack and also assist in surveying likely targets in Mumbai.

In his confession Sabahuddin says he was told by Lashkar terrorists based in Pakistan to meet Bhatti and Shehzad and give them instructions. Both men met Sabahuddin in Nepal for the first time.

Sabahuddin says he took the duo to meet a man named Suhail at Buntwal in Nepal where they were told about their role in the CRPF camp attack.

Suhail took the two men to Rampur. He rented a house in Rampur for the duo while they awaited further instructions. During the waiting period Bhatti and Shehzad were asked to assist Ansari who had begun conducting a survey of possible targets in Mumbai.

Shehzad -- who was in contact with Imran Mian, the Lashkar's man in Bangladesh -- was told to activate sleeper cells in Mumbai so that its members could help Ansari conduct the survey. He was told that he would act as the liaison between Ansari and Sabahuddin.

Sabahuddin told his interrogators that the Lashkar planners did not initially want the terrorists carrying weapons into Mumbai.

With Shehzad and Bhatti's help, Sabahuddin smuggled in AK-47 rifles from Pakistan through Nepal.

Sabahuddin instructed Shehzad and Bhatti to hide the weapons near a lake in Rampur. He planned to retrieve the weapons after the CRPF camp attack and hand them over to the Mumbai attackers who were to arrive in the city in September.

Immediately after the CRPF attack, Sabahuddin asked Shehzad to retrieve the weapons. He also told Shehzad to store the AK-47 rifles at Suhail's brother-in-law's house in Uttar Pradesh and await orders.

Before the weapons could be retrieved, investigators say Shehzad was arrested. As a result, the attack on the Bombay Stock Exchange was averted, but the Mumbai attacks were moved from September to November.

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