Monday, February 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Arrest unfolds Sept 11, Kolkata shootout links

The Delhi police today arrested three Pakistani nationals for their alleged links in the case.

“The three are suspected to have links with Ansari”, police sources said.

New Delhi, February 10
Aftab Ansari, the prime suspect in the attack on the American Center in Kolkata, has admitted to the CBI about his involvement in the attack and has links with terrorists and jehadis in Pakistan especially with Omar Sheikh, one of the three terrorists released by India to end the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar.

"He has also come out with the fact that he has links with terrorists and jehadis in Pakistan specially with Omar Sheikh. He has also admitted that the attack on American Centre in Kolkata was carried out at his instance by his accomplices in order to take the revenge of the killing of Asif Reza Khan in a police encounter," the CBI said.

During the interrogation which began soon after he was brought to the CBI headquarter after being deported from Dubai last evening, Ansari alias Farhan Malik, also confessed that he masterminded the kidnapping of Kolkata shoe baron Parthapratim Roy Burman and extracted a ransom of Rs 3.75 crore for his release through hawala channel in Dubai, CBI sources said.

Out of this amount, the sources said Omar Sheikh had sent 100,000 US dollars through telegraphic transfer to Mohammed Atta, leader of the hijackers who rammed planes into the WTC in New York and Pentagon in Washington on September 11.

According to the sources, Ansari, who was sent on seven days of transit remand to the CBI, told the interrogators that though he was involved in organised crimes only, he had established “good contacts” with Omar Sheikh.

The interrogation report of Ansari is likely to be handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which provided crucial assistance to the CBI in securing the deportation of Ansari from Dubai.

Ansari has also admitted that he had carried out the kidnapping of not only Burman but also of the Gujarat diamond merchant Bhasker Parekh and his friend Paresh Shah. He had managed to extract an amount of Rs 4 crore from him and sent it to Dubai through the hawala channel. During interrogation, Ansari has disowned himself from the arms consignments seized by the CBI from Pattan district in Gujarat and Haryana.

However, the CBI confronted Ansari with the statements of Asif Reza Khan, one of the militants arrested by the Delhi police while he was planning to kidnap some VVIPs from the Lodhi Road area last year, who had confirmed Ansari’s role in the arms supply and the transfer of money to Mohammed Atta by Omar Sheikh.

The arrest of Ansari is also expected to unravel the nexus between Dubai-based underworld and Pakistan-based militants.

CBI investigations into the seizure of huge quantity of arms and ammunition in Gujarat had for the first time indicated the role of Aftab Ansari as financier of the consignment meant for militants.

Ansari, originally a resident of Varanasi, had financed the arms consignment which was to be delivered to Asif Reza Khan who was killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police when he tried to flee.

Sources said Ansari and some other underworld operators used to take help from militant outfits in procuring arms for kidnapping or killing people. Meanwhile, facilitating further investigations into the January 22 Kolkata shootout case a Delhi court today granted seven days of transit remand to the CBI for the main suspect Aftab Ansari, alias Farhan Malik.

The CBI has to produce Ansari at the Radhanpur city court in Gujarat by February 16. Ansari, who was deported from Dubai and brought here last night, was produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau who sent him to seven days of transit remand for taking him to Gujarat.

The Metropolitan Magistrate also granted five days' transit remand to the CBI for producing Ansari's accomplice Rajendra, alias Rajesh, wanted in a kidnapping case in Rajkot in the Rajkot city court by February 14.

The Metropolitan Magistrate directed the CBI to produce Ansari before the First Class Judicial Magistrate, Radhanpur where he was wanted in a case. From there, the CBI would seek custody of the accused for further interrogation. She also ordered a medical checkup to be conducted on Ansari every 48 hours.

The CBI had sought his custody in a arms seizure case also. Last year, the agency recovered a huge quantity of arms and explosives from Gujarat and Haryana.

The CBI counsel while seeking the remand said Ansari had been named by some accused caught by the CBI in connection with the arms seizure case.

Ansari will be later handed over to the Kokata police for interrogation in connection with the shootout at the American Centre and kidnapping of the shoe baron.

Ansari was arrested at the Dubai airport shortly before he was to fly to Islamabad and deported to India along with his accomplice Raju Sharma.

He was in possession of a Pakistani passport bearing number J-872142 issued on February 12, 2001 and valid till February, 2006.

The accused were brought in a special flight from Dubai by a team of CBI officials lead by its Joint-Director Neeraj Kumar. Interpol had issued a Red Corner notice “A-1476/12/2001” against Ansari after the CBI provided some evidence, including his telephone number, from which he had called the Superintendent of Police in Kolkata after the shootout.

The CBI had also provided statement of Asif Raza Khan, one of the accused who was arrested by the Delhi police in Lodhi Road while he was planning to abduct some VVIPs, to Interpol.


Joint team to grill Aftab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10
The main suspect in the January 22 shootout case in Kolkata, Aftab Ansari, is to be interrogated by a joint team of Centre and state investigating agencies, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharyya said today. Ansari was brought here last evening from Dubai.

“Lashkar-e-Toiba backed by the ISI was behind the attacks on American Center on January 22 and the links have been established,” he told reporters before going to attend the Politburo meeting of the CPM.

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