OTHERS

Ultras also targeted U.S. mission in Dhaka

NEW DELHI, JUNE 16. The two persons arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in connection with the international terrorist, Osama bin Laden's ``plans'' to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Delhi had planned a similar strike at the American mission in Dhaka. Investigations show that the prime accused, the Sudanese national, Abdel Raouf Hawash, who was nabbed along with Shamim Sarwar of Bihar from Delhi's Nizamuddin area with 6 kg of RDX explosives on Friday had been in touch with Abdul Rehman Al- Safani, a close associate of Bin Laden.

Al-Safani, a Sudanese national, had come to India in February and, after finalising the entire operation had left the country. He was the mastermind behind the planned attacks and had promised Hawash that he would spend up to Rs. 1 crore for the job.

The lure of such a huge sum influenced Hawash that he had even written a letter to Bin Laden reaffirming his loyalty to the terrorist leader. In the letter, Hawash had eulogised ``Laden, Afghans and Mujahideens'' and stated that he was prepared to ``fight for jehad''.

Hawash had also said that he had finalised the plans. ``The job for Delhi and Dhaka is ready and 10-12 persons will be Hindi and 10-12 will be Bangla. If we include their families, they will be 200.'' He wrote that in Delhi the security vigil was heightened around August 15 (Independence Day), but ``things slow down'' during the rainy season, when it would be appropriate to strike.

Investigations show that both Al-Safani and Hawash were in constant touch with a high-ranking official of an African Embassy in Delhi who had not only paid Rs. 5 lakhs for funding the attacks but was also monitoring the developments on behalf of Bin Laden.

The embassy official's ``involvement'' is being investigated by the Intelligence Bureau - which had provided vital inputs that led to the arrest of the accused - in close coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs.

While most of the money was to be paid in some foreign country to the accused on completion of the operation, in order to provide some finances for routine expenditure an account had been opened at the Kolkata branch of a multinational bank.

The Delhi Police have made a further breakthrough with the arrest of Abbas Hussain Sheikh from Udaipur in Rajasthan. Sheikh, a native of Bihar, was a mechanic and had been contracted for by the accused for arranging a car, erasing its engine and chassis numbers, and then making a cavity in it for placing explosives.

As per the plan, the car with a prefabricated improvised explosive device with a detonator and timer would have been driven near the Visa section of the U.S. Embassy by a young male and female driver and left there to explode at a stipulated time.

The presence of a woman was thought of by the accused to mislead security personnel and avoid suspicion. The explosion was to have been carried out in the latter half of June or the latest by mid- July.

Remanded to custody

Our Staff Reporter adds:

Awash and Sarwar were today remanded to 11 days' police custody by a Delhi court.

The Metropolitan Magistrate, Mr. Vinod Kumar, allowed police to interrogate the two in custody till June 26.