NIA may get to grill LeT bomb-making expert in Paris
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: NIA BELIEVES THAT GHANI HAD BEEN IN TOUCH WITH DAVID COLEMAN HEADLEY
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, officials 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 of others.
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 in Kerala’s Kannur 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.
He has told investigators that he was trained at an IS camp in Raqqa (a city in war-torn Syria) before being inducted into a terror module.
He told interrogators that he fought for an IS regiment called Omer Kathi Caliph, commanded by Abu Sulaimani Al Francisse.