Mumbai blast accused met Osama in Pak: ATS

Haroon Naik, an arrested accused in Mumbai triple blasts, met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan just a month before the 9/11 attack on US.

Updated: Feb 08, 2012, 00:07 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: Haroon Naik, an arrested accused in
Mumbai triple blasts, met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan just a
month before the 9/11 attack on US and was sent to Kandahar in
Afganistan for additional training of 40 days, according to
Maharashtra ATS sources on Tuesday.

The claim by the Anti-Terrorism Squad(ATS) establishes
a possible link for the first time by a terrorist from India
with the slain al Qaeda leader.

Besides being present at an "inspirational" lecture by
the dreaded bin Laden, Rashid had also met LeT operations
chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the sources said.

Naik, who is alleged to have used hawala channels to
fund the triple blasts here last year, was also known to
Sheikh Omar, the killer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel
Pearl, and Aftab Ansari, the mastermind of 2002 American
Center attack in Kolkata, the sources said.

35-year-old Naik, who is in ATS custody since February 1
in connection with the blast case, was nabbed from the Mumbai
international airport on August 22 last year on the charge of
possessing fake currency notes and has been lodged in a jail
since then.

"Haroon Naik was present when Laden was giving an
inspirational lecture on Jihad in August 2001," the sources
said on condition of anonymity. US was attacked on September
11, 2001 in an unprecedented terror strike.

Naik, according to them, was sent to Pakistan for terror
training in 2001 by co-founder of home-grown terror group
Indian Mujahideen member Riyaz Bhatkal.

"Naik underwent terror training called Daura-e-Aam and
Daura-e-Khas in Pakistan and from there he was sent to
Kandahar in Afganistan for additional training of 40 days",
the sources added.

Naik, who has a diploma in digital technology from ITI
Ulhasnagar, fought alongside al Qaeda men in Afghanistan and
it was before going to Kandahar that Laden gave the lecture to
Naik and others in the group.

The sources said it was during his training in Pakistan
that Naik came to know Aftab Ansari and Sheikh Omar and met
Lakhvi.

Terror had struck Mumbai on July 13 last year when
three near-simultaneous blasts ripped through crowded areas in
the city claiming 27 lives.

This disclosure by the ATS vindicates India’s stand of Pakistan’s involvement in the 13/7 Mumbai blasts and also of cross-border terrorism being perpetrated by its neighbour. Inspite of numerous proofs, Pakistan has always been in a denial mode as far as India’s stand is concerned.

Earlier on February 03 the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had claimed that Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives, who were behind the 13/7 serial blasts in Mumbai, were trained in Pakistan by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

According to reports, Haroon Naik, who was arrested in connection with the Mumbai serial blasts, told ATS that he had undergone rigorous terror training with IM founder Yasin Bhatkal in Pakistan.

Terming the arrested Naik as "a very, very important member of Indian Mujahideen", Maharashtra ATS said he had fought alongside al Qaeda in Afghanistan against "enemies" in the name of jihad.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad was on Wednesday granted custody of jailed IM operative Naik in the blasts case as he was suspected of having participated in the conspiracy and provided financial aid to carry out the terror strikes last year that claimed 27 lives.

The 35-year-old Naik, who is in the "upper ranks" of the home-grown terror outfit, had been earlier nabbed from the Mumbai international airport on charges of possessing fake currency notes on August 22 last year and since then was lodged in jail, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

Naik had undergone trainings called "Daura-E-Aam" and "Daura-E-Khas" in 2001 at terror camps of Lashkar-e-Toiba at Bahawalpur in Pakistan. Naik had sneaked into Pakistan in the late 2000, Maria said.

As he volunteered to fight for jihad along with al Qaeda, Naik was imparted additional 15 days advanced training called "Bait-E-Rizan" in Pakistan and fought against "enemies" including Northern Alliance in Kandhahar in 2001, he said.

With PTI inputs