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German Bakery blast case cracked, 2 LeT men held

Last updated on: September 8, 2010 20:09 IST

German Bakery blast case cracked

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Eight months after a powerful blast ripped through Pune's German Bakery killing 17 and wounding 56, Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad on Wednesday claimed to have made a breakthrough in the case with the arrest of two Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives.

Mirza Himayat Baig (29), who heads LeT's operations in Maharashtra, was arrested from Mahatma Gandhi bus stand in Pune yesterday afternoon, while his aide Shaikh Lalbaba Mohammed Hussain alias Bilal (27) was nabbed from Subash Chandra Bose Marg in Nashik on Tuesday night, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria announced at a crowded press conference in Mumbai.

Baig and Bilal were produced before courts in Pune and Nashik, which remanded them in ATS custody till September 20 and 16 respectively for interrogation.

Click on NEXT to read how the Pune operation was executed...


Image: The German Bakery at Koregaon Park
Photographs: Reuters
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"Both played a key role in triggering the Pune blast. The conspiracy was hatched in Udgir town in Latur district in January this year," Maria, Additional Director General of Police, ATS, said adding that bakery was targeted as foreigners frequented it.

Two kg of RDX, soldering wires, cutters, LeT literature, manuals for making bombs, $1,200, Rs 10,500, SIM cards procured using fake documents, mobile phones and pen drives were recovered from the duo, he said.

While Baig was arrested for the Pune blast, Shaikh, who was constantly in touch with him and provided him logistical support, was held under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Maria said.

Shaikh had conducted recce of several important locations, including government buildings in Nashik for proposed terror strikes, he said.

"After Shaikh's arrest under the UAPA, his role in the blast case was established. Once the remand in the UAPA case is over, we would arrest him in the Pune blast case too," he said.


Image: People gather near German Bakery after the blast
Photographs: Reuters
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High-profile IPS officer Maria, who was drafted as ATS chief after continued delay in making a breakthrough in the case, said the investigation took ATS teams to several places in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Daman and various other states.

According to Maria, Baig had conducted recce of the German Bakery and was also involved in planting the bomb with Mohmmad Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin, a key Indian Mujahideen leader.

"Baig received terror training at Bhatkal in Karnataka after he came into contact with Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal (the fugitive founder of Indian Mujahideen) through Akbar Choudhary, brother of Mohsin Choudhary, another IM member."

Baig, he said, was instrumental in bringing together the accused of 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case and Indian Mujahideen module to hatch the conspiracy and carry out the blast in the Bakery.


Image: Policemen rushed to the site
Photographs: Reuters
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In May 2006, the ATS had seized 43 kg of RDX, 16 AK-47 assault rifles, 3,200 bullets and 50 hand grenades on the Nasik-Aurangabad highway and arrested over 15 alleged activists of the banned SIMI.

On the day of the blast, Baig stood outside as Mohammed Ahmed planted the explosive device, Maria said.

A mobile alarm timer was used to trigger the RDX-laden bomb and the image of Mohammed Ahmed was caught by CCTV camera at the eatery, frequented in large numbers by foreigners, Maria said.

"In January, Baig along with Mohammed Ahmed and Mohsin Choudhary had held a conspiracy meeting at his Gold Internet cafe in Udgir in Latur district to select their targets and German bakery was chosen as it was frequented by foreigners," said Maria.


Image: An injured victim being treated at a Pune hospital
Photographs: Reuters
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"On February 3, another meeting was held in Udgir. From February 7, they started making the bomb, which was brought to Pune a day before the blast. On February 13, Mohammed Ahmed took the bomb to the bakery around 4 pm and left within a couple of minutes," he said.

Maria said Shaikh had visited LeT camps in Pakistan between January 2008 and early 2010 where he received advanced training in use of sophisticated weapons and making bombs.

Shaikh had sneaked into India thrice during the period through Bangladesh and Nepal border, he said.

Pakistani-American LeT operative David Coleman Headley, at present in US custody, too had done a recce of the German Bakery, a popular foreigners' haunt in Pune, apart from nearby Chabad House and Osho Ashram before the February 13 blast.


Image: Cops inspecting the blast site
Photographs: Reuters
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