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Hyd'bad police produces HuJI operative before media

Last updated on: January 18, 2010 21:17 IST

The Hyderabad police said it had gained the custody of a commander of the terror outfit Harakat ul Jihad al Islami who was wanted in connection with a suicide attack in the city.

At a press conference held on Monday, the police produced Mohammed Amjad alias Khwaja, who they believe is the self-styled commander of HuJI in South India and the successor to Shahed Bilal, a HuJI commander who was reportedly killed in Karachi in August 2007.

"Bilal and his elder brother Abdul Samad were killed in a shootout at Karachi, Pakistan, on August 31, 2007, following which Khwaja was made in-charge of Bilal's group and acted as recruitment agent of HuJI, Lashkar-e-Tayieba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, besides conducting operations on the directions of his ISI handlers in Karachi," Hyderabad Police Commissioner B Prasad Rao said.

Rao said, "Khwaja was tasked by the Inter Services Intelligence to organise some major actions in South India. Accordingly he arrived in Hyderabad."

Khwaja was arrested in Chennai a few days ago in a joint operation by the Intelligence Bureau and the Tamil Nadu police, and was later flown to Hyderabad for further questioning, said police officials.

Rao said they had issued a red corner notice of Interpol against Khwaja in connection with suicide blast at a police task force office in October 2005. Khwaja was also wanted in connection with the conspiracy to kill senior Bharatiya Janata Party Leader Indrasen Reddy in Hyderabad in 2004.

Khwaja is also wanted by the Bengaluru police in the Indian Institute of Science shooting case of 2005.

Khwaja, a resident of Moosaram Bagh area in Hyderabad, had links with Bangladesh-based HuJI and few other Pakistan-based terror outfits, said the police.

Khwaja may be able solve many puzzles including the death of Bilal, and the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in Hyderabad in August 2007.

The police said Khwaja and Bilal were close friends and lived in the same locality in Hyderabad. Both had reportedly undergone training in militancy in Bangladesh between 2002 and 2004.

The police found currencies of various countries with Khawaja at the time of his arrest. They include $348, 313 Saudi Riyal, 225 UAE Dirhams, Rs 28,640 in Pakistani currency, and 348 Bangladeshi Tikkas.

The police commissioner told the media that Khwaja had gone to Saudi Arabia in May 2005 on the pretext of performing Umrah pilgrimage, but ha actually gone to Karachi, Pakistan, with the help of Bilal where he underwent training at a Lashkar-e-Tayiba camp.

Following his return, he organised a terror cell of Bangladesh-based HuJI in South India, said Rao.

Rao said Bilal and Khwaja had conducted the 2005 blast to avenge the death of another operative, Mujahid Saleem, who was killed in a firing by the Gujarat police in 2004.

Accordingly a Bangladeshi suicide bomber Moatasim Billa alias Dalin blew himself up in the task force office on October 10, 2005.

Rao also said that Bilal and Khwaja were associated with other wanted fugitives including Rasool Khan Party of Gujarat (an accused in Hiren Pandya murder case) and Amer Raza Khan of Bihar, chief of India-based terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

These men working in tandem with the ISI to destabilise the Indian economy and create security problems, said Rao.

Bilal and Khwaja also recruited several youth in Hyderabad and Bangladesh for arms training.

The police produced Khwaja at the press conference a day after his mother Lateefa Begum demanded the police to produce him in a court.

Lateefa said she was afraid that the police might try to eliminate her son in a fake encounter. She denied the allegations against Khwaja saying the police had earlier made similar charges against her other son Abdul Kaleem, but the court later acquitted him.

She said the police had been linking Khwaja to terror attacks after he went to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in 2005 to seek a job.

She added that the police arrested Khwaja when he was returning from Saudi Arabia.

"He spoke to us over phone 12 days ago, and haswas not in touch after that," she said.

Khwaja's brother Kaleem was arrested after the bomb blast in Mecca Masjid in May 2007. After spending one-and-a-half years in Charlapally central jail, he was acquitted along with the other accused in the case.

Kaleem was also named as an accused in a case of shifting RDX and procuring SIM cards under fake names, but was acquitted in this case too.
Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad