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Confessions of a bomb-maker

By Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru
July 24, 2009 11:02 IST
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The conspiracy behind the 2008 terror attacks in Bengaluru and Surat has been revealed following the confession of 57-year-old Edapana Thodika Zainuddin alias Abdul Sattar, a resident of Malappuram in Kerala, who was arrested by the Hyderabad police for alleged links with the Indian Mujahideen.

Sattar allegedly made the improvised explosive devices used in the terror attacks.

In his complete confession before the Anti Terror Cell in Bengaluru, Sattar said he made a survey of the Karnataka Vidhan Soudha (the state assembly), the high court and the Infosys campus in the city.

The idea was to send a strong message across the country about the IM's presence.

'We first thought that we would plant 20 bombs in Bengaluru alone. However, we reduced the number to 10 later since we had only 10 men at our disposal. It was difficult for them to carry 20 flowerpot shaped bombs, which would weigh over 100 kilograms,' he told investigators.

Sattar confessed that IM operatives dropped the idea of carrying out blasts at the Vidhan Soudha, Infosys campus and the high court when they realised that the security presence was high at these locations. 'Hence, we planted bombs in other places,' he said.

He said the IM operatives were part of the same group which planted bombs in Surat.

'The Surat operation was a flop since my son Sarfuddin assembled the IEDs. He was new to this technology and was just learning. He did not assemble them properly.'

How the conspiracy was hatched

'It was in April 2008 that I was told by a friend of mine that I needed to meet a man by the name Riyaz Bhatkal. A month later, I got a call from Bhatkal who was in Karnataka and told me that he would meet me at a function. The meeting was fixed at Kuttypuram in a lodge. After staying there for three days, Bhatkal called me to the railway station. I will be wearing jeans and a T-shirt and will have a plastic bag in my hand, he said.'

'I finally met him and brought him back to the lodge. Bhatkal, Aftab, Umar, two others and myself discussed various things before Bhatkal told me that there was a requirement of 50 bombs.'

'He said that he had heard of my expertise in making bombs and hence wanted me to prepare them. He told me that the bombs should be timed between 1 and 99 hours. He then told me to give him an assemble board without a cover so that he could use it at Ahmedabad, Gujarat and in Surat. The SIMI and Indian Mujahideen will use this, he told me.'

'I agreed and sought a couple of days time. I also told him that I would require Rs 10,000. Bhatkal gave me Rs 5,000 advance. Bhatkal told us that the main targets are Gujarat, Delhi and Mumbai. He said he was touch with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and that they had told him to carry out a blast in Bengaluru and Chennai too.'

'Bhatkal showed a keen interest in knowing about the terror programmes being undertaken in Kerala. We told him that there is a programme called Tareeqath, which was being run and several youth were being told about communal problems, atrocities against Muslims in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, the Godhra incident in Gujarat, demolition of the Babri Masjid and the high handedness of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. They also planned to retaliate in a fitting manner to the governments who are not showing any interest in uplifting the Muslim community.'

'After hearing this Bhatkal told us to go ahead. He was particular about Bengaluru since he felt that the previous attempt (the attack at the Indian Institute of Science) was not successful. He said that in Bengaluru, there are top scientists and there is a BJP government and hence, it is important to carry out a strike in Bengaluru.'

The SIMI-IM-Lashkar link is clear

'Bhatkal told us that the Lashkar was particular about these operations and were sending financial assistance towards the same. He also told us that a training camp had been arranged in Kodagu district in Karnataka.'

'A few days later, Bhatkal called me once again and asked whether the assembly boards were ready or not. I sought a little more time and also informed him that my son was assembling the boards for Surat. It was on July 16 that the boards were ready. The boards were then handed over to him. However, Bhatkal said he needed 20 more boards for which I agreed.'

'The operation went on as planned. Bombs went off at Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, but the Surat operation flopped. A few days later, we met Bhatkal at Hyderabad. He asked us why the Surat operation had failed. I explained that it was my inexperienced son who had devised the bombs. Bhatkal was upset. However, he told us that the Mumbai police had arrested two persons -- Naushad and Bawa. He suggested that I switch off my phone and go underground.'

Sattar's confession also speaks of why he decided on terrorism. He said the communal disturbances in the country, especially in Kerala, disturbed him a great deal. He got in touch with like-minded people and with their help learnt how to make bombs.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru