Today's Paper

New leads tie Ajmer blast to HUJI

Praveen Swami

SIM card reveals Hyderabad link

NEW DELHI: Investigators have discovered that the mobile phone cards used to build the unexploded bomb recovered from the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer on Thursday were part of a set of Subscriber Identification Modules purchased to execute the Mecca Masjid bombings in Hyderabad.

Central Bureau of Investigation detectives found that the Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami terror cell, which executed the Mecca Masjid bombings, purchased seven mobile phone SIM cards from West Bengal and Jharkhand in the weeks before the May 2007 terror attacks.

Of these, five SIM cards — three for the Airtel network and two for Hutch — were purchased from a retailer in Malda.

Now, Rajasthan police officials have found that the SIM card recovered from the unexploded device found in the Ajmer shrine is one of the five purchased by the HUJI in Malda — the first conclusive evidence that the same terror cell carried out both bombings. The phone recovered in Ajmer is also of the same make as that used in the Mecca Masjid strike — a Nokia 3310 device.

Detectives from the CBI earlier established that several phones were purchased by the HUJI cell — which carried out the Mecca Masjid strike — from a retailer in Faridabad, Uttar Pradesh.

The HUJI operative who purchased the cards identified himself as Babu Lal Yadav, using a fake driving licence bearing a photograph scanned from a magazine article on a well-known Yoga teacher who lives in the Noida area.

In both the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer terror strikes, the bomb-maker who fabricated the explosive devices had the phone’s speaker connected to a detonator implanted in nitroglycerine-based industrial explosive.

As at the Mecca Masjid, the second explosive device in Ajmer failed to detonate because the phone’s battery failed to deliver an electrical charge needed to activate the detonator.

Andhra Pradesh police investigators believe that the Mecca Masjid strikes were carried out by two or more Bangladesh-based HUJI operatives, who planted the explosives in the mosque and left India soon after.

“A similar tactic is likely to have been used in Ajmer as well,” a senior Rajasthan police official told The Hindu. The head of the HUJI cell, one-time Hyderabad resident Abdul Mohammad Shahid, is believed to be hiding in Karachi.

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