The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case has thrown up a new twist. While the Mumbai police had closed in on Ajmal Kasab, Faheem Ansari and Sabahuddin Hamed, the David Headley-Tawwahur Rana angle came up. Now India is probing a possible Oman link to the case.
Sources point out that Abdul Al-Hooti, an alleged Lashkar-e-Tayibba activist arrested in Oman in another case, could have done more than just providing SIM cards which were used during the Mumbai attacks. With evidence against Al-Hooti in the Mumbai attack increasing, the Indian agencies say that apart from interrogating Headley in the US, they would also be building a case to seek Al-Hooti's extradition from Oman.
Although an Omani national by birth, Al-Hooti is no stranger to Mumbai as his mother hails from Mumbai. He is currently in Omani police custody for his role in a terror plot there. A couple of months after the Mumbai attacks, Al-Hooti's name had cropped up and investigators were sure that he had a major role to play since he was familiar with the city's terrain. However as the investigations progressed, the focus was more on the three men apprehended by the Mumbai police.
Intelligence Bureau officials told rediff.com that the entire recee was not done by Headley and Rana alone. While the investigating team would be questioning Headley about any possible association with Fahim and Sabahuddin, the role played by Al-Hooti too will come up during the interrogation.
The LeT's Gulf operatives are the key to terror operations in India. These operatives provide funds and logistical back up.
The IB said that they had contacted the Omani authorities and had sought their help to extradite Al-Hooti to India. "We need to know about the logistic support that Al-Hooti provided and also would like to check if he is the same man who had provided the SIM cards to the Mumbai gunmen. Currently he is being interrogated in Oman for his role in a terror plot and talks are on between the two countries," an IB source said.
The Indian agencies who are working on this case, say that they need to provide a detailed case sheet to the Omani authorities in order to secure Al-Hooti's extradition.
The investigating agencies are also looking into Al-Hooti's stay in Mumbai a couple of days before the attack. His familiarity with the place and his capacity to arrange local help make him an important suspect.