Two suspected terrorists arrested in Mumbai, India

Monday, March 15, 2010

The busy Crawford Market.
Image: H.Sanat.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested two men in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India on Sunday for plotting to set the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) office on fire and attack a mall and a market. They were arrested on information given by lndian intelligence agencies. The pair was arrested on Saturday, produced in court on Sunday and have been remanded to police custody till 18 March. Police have seized several maps from them.

The men, who are brothers-in-law, have been identified as Abdul Latif Rashid aka Guddu (29) and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz aka Rehan (23), and were arrested in Trombay while allegedly conducting reconnaissance of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) following a tip-off by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), according to police reports. The Esplanade metropolitan magistrate sent the pair to police custody till March 18 and charged them under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

ATS chief K.P. Raghuvanshi said Adbul and Riyaz had identified three targets in the city; the Thakkar Mall in Borivali (West), the ONGC office and the Mangaldas Market, located at the busy Crawford Market. The suspects had conducted reconnaissance of the Nhava-Sheva area of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in south-east Mumbai, an ATS official said. "The two were preparing to set one of the ONGC establishments in the city on fire following instructions from someone called 'Uncle'," an ATS officer said adding "we are probing if the directions had come from across the border".

IB had intercepted suspicious phone calls, between the two suspects and a 'Chacha' (uncle) in Karachi and the ATS had put them under surveillance. They were arrested after the suspicions were confirmed and backed by solid evidence. Rehan worked as a salesman at the Thakkar Mall, which already had been surveyed by the duo and were awaiting further instructions, according to police. ATS officials did not clarify whether the two were actually going to carry out attacks or were just drawing maps and conducting reconnaissance, being a part of a greater chain of command.

“I have more information about the people arrested, but I will not reveal it at this point as their accomplices, who are still at large, may benefit from it, ” said Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil. He refused to tell if there was a connection between these suspects and the Pune blast last month which killed seventeen people. The Home ministry of India described these arrests as significant, saying that the conspiracy was part of the "Karachi Project" .

The so-called Karachi project was revealed by David Headley, a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist arrested in US. It is supposedly a collaboration between Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency involving recruitment of serving and retired Pakistani army officers and fugitive terrorists from India to carry out suicide attacks in India.