Bangladesh authorities say they have disrupted a Lashkar-e-Taiba attack plot timed to coincide with the anniversary of last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Police in Dhaka say Kannur-origin Lashkar commander Tadiyantavide Nasir had been ordered to lead a fidayeen assault against the Indian and United States diplomatic missions in Dhaka on November 26.
Early this month, the police held several suspects involved in the plot during a raid on a seminary in the mountains near Chittagong. Shahidul Islam and Al-Amin, also known as Saiful, were held along with the influential Islamist cleric Mufti Harun Izahar.
Izahar is the son of Mufti Harun Izahar, the leader of the Islami Oikya Jote [Islamic Unity Party] which is fighting to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic state.
Three Pakistani nationals allegedly linked to the Lashkar have also been reportedly held in Bangladesh. Mohammad Munwar, Mohammad Ashraf Ali Zahid and Syed Abdul Qayyum were held in raids following Mufti Izhar’s arrest.
Nasir and a second Indian associate, The Bangladesh Star reported on Tuesday, had evaded Bangladesh authorities during the raid, but were later held by Indian intelligence personnel near the Bibir Bazar border near Comilla. Indian government officials refused to either confirm or deny the report.
India’s intelligence services believe funds for the assault were despatched by Abdul Rehman Saeed, a Pakistan-based Lashkar commander responsible for managing its networks in Bangladesh.
Police in India say Nasir helped organise last year’s serial bombings in Bangalore, and also supplied electronic components used by the Indian Mujahideen to fabricate improvised explosive devices used in other strikes.
Nasir is also alleged to have recruited dozens of Kerala men to volunteer for jihad training in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. Last year, police and troops shot dead four Kerala residents who were training with a Lashkar unit in the mountains above Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir.
Fugitive Indian Mujahideen commander Riyaz Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal, is also thought to have been in regular touch with Nasir. Shahbandri is believed to have fled to Karachi in 2008, after a nationwide police sweep led to the arrest of several key Indian Mujahideen operatives.