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Malegaon blasts: CBI to quiz Pak national

Malegaon blasts: CBI to quiz Pak national

Author: Stavan Desai
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: April 1, 2007
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/27257.html

Introduction: HuJI activist Taseem Azim visited Malegaon several times and was in touch with locals

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will question 28-year-old Pakistani national Taseem Azim alias Larib Khan Gulab Khan in connection with the serial blasts at Malegaon on September 8 last year.

Azim was arrested by the Lucknow police Special Task Force (STF) five days after the serial blasts at Malegaon in an operation backed by the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau. During Azim's questioning, it was revealed that he had been staying in Lucknow for the past two years and had been trained by the ISI in Karachi. He had been operating on behalf of the ISI while running a job placement agency 'Precyze Recruitment Agency'.

Azim, termed by the STF as "young and intelligent" and a "goldmine" of information by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), also told his interrogators that in the span of two years of working for the ISI, he had visited Malegaon several times and established contact with local persons. It was also revealed that Azim had contacts in the ranks of PoK-based Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami (HuJI).

"We shared this information with the Maharashtra ATS, which immediately sent a team for detailed questioning of the accused in connection with the Malegaon serial blasts," said Senior Superintendent of Police, STF, Vijay Bhushan.

The CBI, which took over investigations into the blasts on December 21 last year (the same day as the ATS filed chargesheet against nine persons in the case), now says it will question Azim again in connection with the blasts. "We want to question him to cross-check his revelations about his Malegaon links. And as he has admitted to having links with a terrorist organisation we are hopeful of getting more information," said an officer of the Special Investigating Team of the CBI entrusted with the investigations in the case.

It was during questioning by the Maharashtra ATS that Azim's close links with Malegaon-based SIMI activists were revealed. Azim told the ATS that during his visits to Malegaon, last of which was four months before the blasts, he had established these contacts to further his job of espionage and providing logistics information to HuJI. Though he had named local SIMI activists like Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, Mohammed Zahid Abdul Majid Ansari and few others, he denied any knowledge of the blasts. Later, Samshudoha, Masiullah and Ansari were arrested by the ATS for their alleged involvement in the blasts and charged as being the prime accused who conspired and got the blasts executed.

"His questioning gave a lot of information to ATS about the local SIMI activists and those who required to be inquired further because of his links. We also found that he had well established contacts with HuJI. We also found some documents and a diary containing telephone numbers of his contacts in Malegaon and across the border from his possession," said Bhushan.

But the ATS never found Azim's involvement in the blasts though it got its first leads about the incident from him. "He had links with the accused but we did not arrest him as we did not find his involvement," said Maharashtra ATS chief and Joint Commissioner of Police K P Raghuvanshi.

The state had transferred investigations to the CBI after protests from the residents of Malegaon on the arrests made by the ATS. The ATS had contended that the nine arrested accused, alleged active SIMI members, had hatched and executed the conspiracy with the help of two Pakistanis in the textile town to "infuriate the entire Muslim community and trigger communal riots."

Thirty-one people had died and 312 injured in four blasts, of which three were inside the Hamidiya Masjid and Bara Kabrastan. The fourth was at Mushawart Chowk.

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