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Rediff.com  » News » Indian Mujahideen helped Headley, Rana execute 26/11

Indian Mujahideen helped Headley, Rana execute 26/11

November 19, 2009 14:33 IST
Investigators are striving to disentangle the various aspects of the 26/11 terror plot. Vicky Nanjappa throws light on how the Indian Mujahideen did its bit.

It is now more or less clear that arrested Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley had extensively used the Indian Mujahideen's services to help carry out the 26/11 attacks.

Investigators told rediff.com that more than two people within the Indian Mujahideen provided logistical support to Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana to survey the targets that were attacked during 26/11.

The name of Riyaz Bhatkal, the suspected chief of the Indian Mujahideen, had cropped up just after the Mumbai attacks. However, the Mumbai police then denied all possible local links and maintained that the attacks were planned and executed only from Pakistan.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau and the National Investigating Agency now point out that most of the money required to execute the Mumbai attacks was routed through Bhatkal. He laid the groundwork and opened 20 bank accounts in different countries, most of them in the Gulf.

Bhatkal was in India when both Headley and Rana visited the country. Bhatkal, who was in Kerala after the serial blasts that rocked Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Delhi last year, met Rana during his visit to Kerala.

Investigators say Headley and Rana were constantly in touch with Bhatkal who regularly transferred funds to them to survey and gather video footage of targets in Mumbai and other cities.

IB sources say they have established that the same Lashkar-e-Tayiba handlers controlled both Headley and the 26/11 attackers. While men like Abu Jundal and Abu Hamza, who are based in Pakistan, handled the attackers and Headley only during 26/11, two others constantly guided Headley and Rana during their stays in India.

The IB sources say phone records would show that Headley and Rana were in constant touch with Lashkar operative Abu-al-Qama. It was through him that the duo stayed in touch with Zarar Shah, a top Lashkar terrorist.

While records would show that Headley sought Abu-al-Qama's counsel about the targets in Mumbai, the same man also briefed Rana on the role he needed to play.

Qama asked Rana to travel to Kerala and re-activate the Indian Mujahideen who were virtually decimated after the national crackdown following last year's serial blasts.

He instructed Rana to get in touch with Amir Raja who was in charge of the Indian Mujahideen. Raja, who is based in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, asked Rana to ask Riyaz Bhatkal for help to survey likely targets in Kerala. He was also told to lure more youth into the Indian Mujahideen under the guise of operating a recruitment agency.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru