NIA may get to grill LeT bomb-maker in Paris

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Ramesh Babu let­[email protected]­dus­tan­ ▪

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Af­ter a team of French in­ves­ti­ga­tors ques­tioned sus­pected Is­lamic State (IS) oper­a­tive Sub­hani Haja Moideen in Kochi this week, the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) may get an op­por­tu­nity to grill al­leged Lashkar-e-Taiba bomb-mak­ing ex­pert Mo­ham­mad Us­man Ghani, jailed in France in con­nec­tion with the 2015 Paris ter­ror at­tack.

A court in Kochi has is­sued a so-called let­ter roga­tory for the NIA to in­ter­ro­gate Ghani, offi- cials at the agency said on con­di­tion of anonymity. A let­ter roga­tory is a re­quest by a court to a coun­ter­part in a for­eign coun­try for ju­di­cial as­sis­tance.

NIA be­lieves that Ghani, who was ar­rested from Aus­tria af­ter the Paris at­tack, had been in touch with David Cole­man Headley, a Pak­istan-ori­gin US ter­ror­ist who plot­ted the 2008 Mumbai ter­ror strike.

“Be­sides his sus­pected Headley nexus, we fear he trained some of the In­di­ans who slipped out to war-torn Iraq and Syria to fight for Is­lamic State,” a se­nior NIA of­fi­cer said.

Ghani and Al­ge­rian IS sus­pect Adel Hadaddi were ar­rested from Aus­tria two months af­ter the Paris at­tack, in which gun­men and sui­cide bombers hit a concert hall, a sta­dium, a restau­rant and two oth­ers places, killing 130 peo­ple and maim­ing hun­dreds.

A multi­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion team found that Ghani and Had­dadi had trav­elled with a team of refugees to the Greek Is­land of Le­ors a month be­fore the at­tack. Soon af­ter the Paris at­tack, both resur­faced in Aus­tria and ap­plied for asy­lum. Both were ar­rested and handed over to France. In­ves­ti­ga­tor found they had been in touch with two sui­cide bombers who blew them­selves up at a sta­dium in Paris.

NIA of­fi­cials said Ghani was an ex­pert in mak­ing bombs and grenades, and in­ter­ro­gat­ing him could help the agency glean in­for­ma­tion on LeT’s links with other global ter­ror out­fits. LeT, based in Pak­istan, is blamed for sev­eral at­tacks in In­dia, in­clud­ing the 2008 Mumbai strike.

Moideen, an ac­cused in the Kanaka­mala ter­ror plot that in­tended to tar­get many lead­ers of south In­dia, had told the NIA that he had fought for IS in Iraq and Syria in 2015.

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