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LeT operative Naseer is tough nut to crack

By Vicky Nanjappa
December 09, 2009 17:13 IST
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T Naseer, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative who was recently arrested on the Bangladesh border, is proving out to be a tough nut to crack. Senior police officials from Karnataka, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu -- who are currently in Bengaluru to interrogate him -- have not managed to get any concrete information out of him as yet.

One of the investigators told that Naseer has made two things clear -- one is that he had acted at the behest of Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal to carry out the Bengaluru serial blasts last July, and secondly, his dream to go to Pakistan was never fulfilled.

Naseer, who has been in police custody for the past four days now, has given contradictory versions during his interrogation. The officer says that he has been trained extensively to dodge investigation and interrogation, and hence, he is always trying to confuse the police.

On day one, he had let out information that Bhatkal had asked him to help carry out the Bengaluru blasts and he had obliged; apart from raising funds for the attack.

On Tuesday he told his interrogators that he was so committed to the cause of jihad that it was his dream to go to Pakistan and meet with the top leadership of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, for which he was working.

Very vaguely, while speaking about the task handed out to him, he said, "I undertook what was asked of me. It was a dream to go to Pakistan and meet with the top Lashkar leadership. I was told to go to Bangladesh and meet with my handler over there."

Not naming his handler, Naseer continued, "Once in Bangladesh, my handler assured me that he would ensure my safe passage into Pakistan. However he convinced me that it was very difficult to enter Pakistan since there was a lot of international pressure and hence, the screening process was tight. However, I was adamant and wanted to go there. I waited for my handler to return with the documents, but he disappeared. I was supposed to get out of Bangladesh on that day, but my handler never returned and this led to my arrest."

Intelligence Bureau sources say that Naser is a very high ranking operative and has loads of information on how exactly Indian Mujahideen's south Indian modules work. He was a trusted aide of the Lashkar since he was able to recruit operatives with ease.

Interrogators will have to pull out several tricks in order to get information out of this man. He has been giving a different version to the story every day, and his primary aim is to confuse the police team. Police from six states have been interrogating him continuously, and are trying to join the dots.

What each state is looking for:

Karnataka:  His involvement in the Bengaluru serial blasts. His accomplices and also how many more modules he had set up in the state and information on how to bust these modules.

Kerala: His recruitment centres and also the number of modules he has set up. His statements on the role played by him in the assassination bid on former chief minister E K Nayanar. They would also try and find out from him whether he had met with Tawwahur Rana, another LeT operative, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, currently held in the United States.

Delhi: The role played by him in the Delhi serial blasts. There is some information regarding the role played by in the serial blasts in Delhi, emerging through the interrogation of the other accused. They would like to ascertain whether Naseer had financed or had any other involvement in the blasts.

Tamil Nadu: The cops from this state would be looking for information on any role played by him in the Coimbatore blasts.

Jammu and Kashmir: Naseer had recruited several jihadis to operate for the Lashkar in J&K. He had managed to recruit over a dozen people and send them to J&K. The cops of this state are trying to find out if there are any more such cadres who are on their way. However, more importantly, they are trying to find out the route that he had used to sneak in the cadres, and also the route some of them used to sneak out of J&K and enter Pakistan. They believe that Naseer being a high-ranking cadre has details of the routes.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru