Mumbai: An alleged hawala operator, suspected to be involved in the July 13, 2011 Mumbai triple blasts, was arrested after being picked up from Goa airport, Maharashtra ATS said today.
The operator was suspected to be involved by ensuring the funds reached arrested Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal to trigger the explosions.
The accused Abdul Mateen Damada alias Farooq (50), against whom a Look Out Circular (LOC) was issued in 2012, was on Monday intercepted at Goa airport by immigration authorities, who informed the ATS, said Additional Director General (ATS) Himanshu Roy.
A police team then rushed to Goa, brought Damada to Mumbai and placed him under arrest in the blasts case. "The accused was today produced before the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court, which remanded him to the ATS custody till July 28," Roy added.
Damada had allegedly provided fundings for the blasts to Yasin Bhatkal from Dubai, police said. Three powerful blasts had ripped through crowded areas in Mumbai on the evening of July 13, 2011, killing at least 21 people and injuring 141.
The first explosion had rocked Zaveri Bazar, a popular jewellery market, at 6:50 PM. A minute later, another blast shook the busy business area Opera House. The third blast ripped through the crowded Dadar (West) area in Central Mumbai at 7:04 PM.
Earlier, seven accused namely Yasin Bhatkal, Asadullah Akhtar alias Tabrez, Naquee Ahmed, Nadeem Shaikh, Kanwar Pathrija, Haroon Naik and Mohammed Qafeel Ansari were held in the case and are facing trial under MCOCA, IPC and other laws.
Two other accused in the case -- Waqas Ahmed and Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu -- are presently in the custody of National Investigation Agency.
Those wanted in the case are Riyaz Bhatkal, who is also a top operative of the alleged home grown terror outfit, Dubai-based hawala operator Muzaffar Kolah, Wasim alias Ibrahim, Muzaffar Kola and his nephew Ubaid, the ATS said.
Elaborating the role of Damada, another officer said, "He (Damada) is brother-in-law of wanted accused Kolah. He along with Kolah had financed the 13/7 blasts. Damada had sent Rs 10 lakh from Dubai to arrested accused Pathreja, a Delhi-based hawala operator. Then the cash was collected by Yasin from Pathreja on March 31, 2011. Ubaid too is involved in the finance of the blasts."
As per the ATS, Damada has been staying in Dubai since last 15 years. "Damada`s name first emerged during the interrogation of Naquee and later Yasin`s. We would be investigating his purpose to visit India," the officer said.