Terror mail traced to Kishtwar; 5 detained8 September 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: An e-mail sent to media houses in New Delhi by the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI) claiming responsibility for yesterday’s blast outside Delhi High Court in which 13 persons were killed and 76 others were injured has been traced to a cyber cafe in Kishtwar town. Police have sealed ‘Global Internet Cafe’, located at Malik Market, Shaheedhi Road few yards away from the Deputy Commissioner’s office and police station in the heart of Kishtwar town without maintenance of any record and registration. Police, which was joined by a two member NIA team tonight besides cyber and Forensic experts, has seized all computers, CPUs, discs and other relevant material from the cafe and detained five persons including two students of Government Degree College, Kishtwar, two owners of the cafe, both of whom were brothers, and one of their employee for questioning. The e-mail account (email@example.com) had been generated from Terminal No. 2 of the cyber cafe, which had a total of six Terminals, at around 12 noon yesterday, which was used for sending e-mail to two English television channels claiming responsibility for the blast, police sources from Kishtwar said following day long hectic investigations in the case after getting a tip off from the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which was yesterday entrusted with investigations of the blast case, that Kishtwar was origin of the e-mail. Incidentally, an IPS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, Mukesh Singh, DIG, who had served as SSP Jammu and Poonch before proceeding on Central deputation, has been made Incharge of the investigations by the NIA. Mr Singh had recently returned from the United States after three months course with Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). A two member NIA team headed by another Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) officer, Shiv Kumar Sharma, former SP Katra and Additional SP Samba, reached here from New Delhi this afternoon and straightway left for Kishtwar to join investigations of the case. The team reached Kishtwar at 10 pm and met senior police officers conducting investigations. Both sides exchanged the inputs available with them about the e-mail and other possible terror links of Kishtwar to yesterday’s blast outside Delhi High Court. Police was preparing sketch of the HuJI man, who has sent terror mail, with the help of detained persons. Police was quizzing cafe owners as an attempt had been made to format the computer from which mail was sent in a bid to destroy the data. The sketch was likely to be made by tomorrow after which a hunt would be launched to nab the accused who was stated to be in the age group of 18-20 years. Though police here claimed a long back that HuJI outfit had been wiped out from Kishtwar, today they didn’t rule out that the outfit might have managed to revive itself by recruiting some Over Ground Workers (OGWs) though there was no active OGW in police record. Five persons, who have been detained by Kishtwar police for questioning in connection with the e-mail, included Imran Hussain Sheikh, 20, son of Mohammad Ashraf Mali R-o Peth, Kishtwar, a Part Final student of Degree College, Kishtwar, Ashiq Hussain of Doda, a Part First student of Degree College, Kishtwar, Mehmood Khwaja and Khalid Hussain, both brothers and sons of Aziz Din R-o Kishtwar town, the owners of Global Internet Cafe and Ashwani Kumar, another resident of Kishtwar, who was an employee at the cafe. A special police team has been constituted to investigate the case alongwith NIA. According to police sources, the college students were detained following questioning of the cafe employee, who confirmed that both Imran Hussain Sheikh and Ashiq Hussain had used the Internet around noon yesterday. However, there were several other persons also, who had used the net at the cafe at the time when the account had been generated and e-mail sent to media houses claiming responsibility for the blast. Sources said the cafe owner had not maintained any proper record of the visitors including their names, parentage, addresses etc. The cyber cafe hadn’t even been registered and it was being run on a broadband connection obtained for residential purposes. Ashwani Kumar, who was present at the cyber cafe yesterday noon, has reportedly told police that Imran Hussain Sheikh was sitting at Terminal No. 3 of the cafe, which had a total of six Terminals, each of them equipped with a computer. However, the investigations revealed that e-mail account on the name of Harkat-ul-Jihadi had been generated from Terminal No. 2 from which the mail had been sent. Besides Imran and Ashiq, other persons who had used the net are also being traced but the investigating agencies were finding the task difficult in the absence of any record maintained by the cyber cafe. The unregistered cyber cafe, which was not keeping any record of net users in militancy-infested district, was being run yards away from Kishtwar police station and the Deputy Commissioner’s office, sources said. Besides senior police officers, cyber experts within the Police Department and Forensic teams have also joined investigations. All computers, CPUs, discs and other relevant material have been seized from the cyber cafe. The cafe has been sealed. The cyber and Forensic experts were examining available record of the computers and discs. They added that in addition to e-mail, police was also investigating whether there was any other terror link of Kishtwar or any other district of the State with yesterday’s blast outside Delhi High Court. Such a possibility can’t be ruled out as Kishtwar borders Anantnag district of Kashmir valley from where it was possible to smuggle explosives. However, police officers said investigations were at a very preliminary stage and nothing can be said about Kishtwar’s terror link to Delhi blast. They confirmed that Kishtwar was origin of the e-mail sent to two national English news channels in which the HuJI had claimed responsibility of the blast. The mail reads 'we own the responsibility of today’s blast at the High Court, Delhi. Our demand is that Afzal Guru’s death sentence should be repealed immediately as we would target major High Courts and the Supreme Court of India’’. Guru, a Kashmiri, is on death row in Parliament terror attack. The Union Home Ministry had recently recommended to President Pratibha Patil for rejection of clemency petition of Guru. Police and NIA were working on three-four angles including verification of authenticity of e-mail, association of mail sender with HuJI, whether the mail was a ‘diversionary tactics’ used by the militants and links of blast perpetrators in Kishtwar. Earlier also, a top HuJI commander Bashir Ahmed alias Sabba Hijaji was found involved in Varanasi serial blasts of January 2007. The HuJI was wiped out in 2009 with the killing of its last surviving militant Amin Khan. Prior to him, another HuJI commander Sher Khan had surrendered. It may be mentioned here that after 13-7 serial blasts in Mumbai, the Indian Mujahideen had sent an e-mail from Kerala claiming responsibility for the terror attack. Sources said the HuJI outfit was claimed to have been liquidated more than two years back. However, according to sources, the tracing of HuJI e-mail’s origin to Kishtwar and possibility of terror link to Delhi High Court blast has cast a shadow on police claim. The new development has indicated that the militant groups could be regrouping and reviving themselves. The presence of OGWs also remained there. The HuJI outfit, it may be mentioned, had dominated Kishtwar, for more than one and a half decade till police claimed that the outfit had been wiped out about two years back. In fact, Kishtwar was known as headquarter of the HuJI in Jammu and Kashmir. Delhi Police has in the past arrested several HuJI militants from the national capital. HuJI leader Muzaffer Ahmed Illahi Daanger alias Suhail Faisal, a resident of Kishtwar, was arrested in conenction with the November 23, 2007 serial blasts in courts in three cities Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad in UP that killed 13 people. A man was also detained at the Srinagar airport in connection with the Delhi blast probe on his return from New Delhi following an input received from a Defence Intelligence Agency about a conversation he had made on September 5. Sources said that a person, resident of Qamarwari in outskirts of the city, was stopped at the airport following a direction from the national capital. The man had spoken to his brother in the national capital and stated that the work would be done by 11 AM on September 7 and that he was reaching on September 6 and returning on September 8 after finishing the work, the sources said. They said the conversation was picked up by a Defence Intelligence Agency, which informed the Central Security agencies after the Delhi High Court blast yesterday. The man has been extensively questioned by the security agencies on his arrival here and his details were being verified, the sources said, adding prima facie it seems that he had no role in the blasts. IGP Kashmir SM Sahai, when approached by the Excelsior, said the man didn't appear to be linked to Delhi blast. However, he was being quizzed. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said investigation into the e-mail claiming responsibility for the Delhi High Court blast, which has been traced to Kishtwar district of the State, is in an 'advanced stage'. 'I am not in a position to share any details with you, other than the fact that various leads have been shared with us and we are in advanced stage of investigating those leads,' Omar said on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar . The Chief Minister was replying to a question about the email allegedly sent by the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami (HuJI), traced to Kishtwar district of Jammu division, in which the militant group claimed responsibility for the Delhi attack. Asked if there was a link between the bomb blast in New Delhi and militancy in Kashmir, Omar said it will be premature to 'reject or accept this premise'. 'Obviously certain leads have been shared. Investigations are ongoing. We will share our findings with the NIA and they will then decide how to take it further,' the Chief Minister said. Omar said the nation demanded answers from those responsible for the security as to who was behind the attack. 'The nation demands answers and it is the responsibility of those who are tasked with protecting this country that they must provide the answers as to who was responsible for this and what can be done to ensure that attacks like these do not succeed in the future,' he said. PTI adds from New Delhi- Another mail was received by media houses in Mumbai and Delhi purportedly written by 'Chotoo' of Indian Mujahideen who claimed responsibility for the Delhi High Court blasts and warned that another blast will take place at a shopping mall. The mail sent from 'firstname.lastname@example.org' was received at 12.37 PM claiming that Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami had no role to play in the blasts and it was done by the Indian Mujahideen. The mail also reasoned that they had chosen Wednesday as the day of the blast as it was the busy day for the High Court and there is a lot of crowd. The Delhi High Court hears Public Interest Litigation on Wednesday. The mail claimed that another blast will take place at a shopping mall. 'We are examining the email received by the media houses..About its authenticity and veracity and (we are) taking it seriously,' Secretary (Internal Security) in the Union Home Ministry U K Bansal told reporters. Security agencies including National Investigation Agency (NIA) are looking into the mail but serious apprehensions were being raised whether this was a genuine mail or a prank being played by somebody. Sources said as of now nothing was being left to chance and the origin of the mail was being ascertained and, if need be, the service provider Google would also be contacted. However, the mail does not resemble the earlier mails sent by Indian Mujahdieen which has claimed responsibilities for blasts in Varanasi and Delhi. In Patna, a man who was arrested on charges of using a stolen ATM card, is being interrogated by the joint team led by NIA in connection with the blast probe.