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Doctor’s duo on blast suspect list

New Delhi, Aug. 26: Early investigations into yesterday’s Mumbai blasts point a finger at the remnants of the Jamait Ahl-e-Hadis led by Jalees Ansari, who is behind bars for orchestrating a series of blasts in Mumbai in the early 1990s.

Investigators suspect the handiwork of Nasir Ali and Tahir Ali, close associates of Ansari, a former Maharashtra government doctor. The two are believed to have drawn the blueprint for the blasts with the help of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (Simi).

The explosions outside the Mumbadevi temple in Zaveri Bazaar and near the Gateway of India killed 52 people and injured about 150.

Ahl-e-Hadis is one of the Sunni sects of conservative Muslims which is said to be a source of inspiration for the banned Lashkar, among the major Pakistan-based militant outfits, and its Indian counterpart in Kashmir, the Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen.

The sect’s biggest madarsa is at Maunath Bhanjan, near Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Nasir Ali’s name had cropped up during a series of train blasts in Mumbai, marking the first anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition. He is said to have fabricated the bombs used in the trains. Both the Alis are otherwise largely unknown figures in the militant world.

A clearer picture is likely to emerge in a couple of days, government sources said, as the state police and central intelligence agencies are trying to gather more information on the “module” involved.

Module is terrorist terminology for a batch from an outfit working on a particular terror project.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani also hinted at an early breakthrough after surveying the situation in Mumbai today.

According to the sources, the same module orchestrated both the blasts yesterday.

The driver of one of the two taxis used to ferry the bombs to the Gateway of India told police a family of four had hired his vehicle. He also said that the group of two men, a woman and a child had done a recce a day before the blasts.

Going by the timing of the blasts, the sources feel it is likely that the culprits first left the bag of explosives in the boot of the taxi at the Gateway before taking another taxi to Zaveri Bazaar to plant more.

Terrorism experts believe militants are adopting new tactics, a pattern that has emerged after the December 13, 2001, attack on Parliament.

They said militants are opting for more general methods of planning and executing bombings to evade detection. The use of taxis and women and children is an indicator, the experts said.

In the Parliament attack, Pakistan-backed militants had bought an Ambassador from Karol Bagh, a commercial locality in central Delhi, to drive into the Parliament House premises.

But after Delhi police cracked the case, a message went out to the tanzems (terrorist groups) that it was unsafe to buy private cars. The operational shift was evident in last year’s attack on the Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad when militants hired a vehicle to reach the site.

A senior government officer said women were being used to camouflage operations and deflect suspicion by giving the impression of a family outing.

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