NIA finds Kolkata centre of terror network

Agency probing the involvement of garment manufacturers

NIA finds Kolkata centre of terror network

The National Investigating Agency’s (NIA) probe into the October 2 blast at Burdwan in West Bengal has once again confirmed that Kolkata is the transit point for terrorism.

Sources said the importance of Kolkata as a transit point for arms, explosives and terror operatives was featured in a phone call that intelligence agencies intercepted on June 7. The call was reportedly between Asadullah Akhtar of Indian Mujahideen and fellow operative Mirza Shadab Beg, believed to be holed up in Waziristan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

From the call, agencies have come to know that a terror plot is afoot centering Kolkata. Though it is not clear whether the plan is to execute something in the city or use it as a base, they have information that some local Muslim businessmen have put up a corpus of Rs 15 crore for the plan. NIA officials believe that Abdul Hakim, injured in the October 2 blast, could provide crucial lead regarding this plot since his questioning on Monday.

Sources informed that the NIA has come to know about the formation of an extensive terror network in an axis that connects Bangladesh to Kolkata and Siliguri in north Bengal with Assam. “It’s not a wonder that in the last few days, all clues have led us to Assam with Kolkata playing a major role in the scheme of things. We believe an axis has been formed that connects these dots on the map,” a senior official said.

The NIA is also probing the involvement of some garment manufacturers at Bibrihat in the southern fringes of Kolkata, bordering South 24 Parganas. “There are reports that some of them use shipments of burka and other garments to transport arms and explosives. What stands out is that Shakil Ahmed, the bomb maker who died in the October 2 blast, used the cover of a burka-seller. We believe he regularly interacted with some Bibirhat manufacturers and could have received consignments from them,” an official said.

While looking into the significance of Kolkata as a transit point, the NIA stumbled upon another clue that was overlooked by the city police. On April 9, 2012, a blast had taken place at Metiabruz in the south-western fringes of the city. While Kolkata Police had written it off as the explosion of a crude bomb, the NIA is looking into the case afresh as the explosion had caused a section of the three-storied house to collapse.

“It could have been a blast similar to that of Burdwan. The bomb makers were probably tinkering with an improvised explosive device when things went wrong,” an official said.

He pointed out that despite finding traces of lead oxide and ammonium nitrate, two key elements in bomb making, the city police decided to close the case. Officials believe that after looking into the 2012 blast, the NIA could find crucial clues to the current case and might even crack into a big terror network.

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