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  • Published 11.02.02
Feb. 11 :    Feb. 11:  Dubai-based don Aftab Ansari's network came under scrutiny today as a car used by suspects in the American Center attack was seized in Patna and investigators in New Delhi tried to trace his alleged links with Mohammad Atta, a hijacker involved in the September 11 strikes. A Maruti believed to have been used by Ansari's associates was seized from Patna City Chowk, where it had been abandoned after an accident some days ago. The "missing Maruti" (WB02-9240) strengthened the don's Bihar connection. Ansari, alias Farhan Malik, holds a passport he obtained from Nalanda. The car was often seen at the Hazaribagh house where two of Ansari's men were killed in a shootout with police on January 28. It is suspected that Jamaluddin Nasir, the chief facilitator of the Calcutta attack, was using it to travel to Patna and Nalanda. Central sleuths examined the car, and an interrogation of the accused arrested from Hazaribagh, Gaya and Nalanda confirmed that they had used it. In New Delhi, investigators questioned Ansari about his alleged links with Atta. Acting on a tip-off from Khadim's kidnap suspect Asif Reza Khan, who was killed in an encounter, police are trying to find out if any part of the Rs 3.75-crore ransom allegedly paid for the release of Parthapratim Roy Burman found its way to Atta. Ansari is a suspect in the Khadim's case. Police claim that Reza had said that $100,000 of the Khadim's ransom was given to Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Omar Sheikh, who sent it to Atta. Ansari has admitted to knowing Sheikh, one of the three prisoners swapped for the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane. But he denied knowledge of any money being sent to Atta. CBI chief P.C. Sharma described Ansari as an "emerging terrorist-criminal leader" and said there was reason to believe he had links with the ISI. But Pakistan rubbished the claim that Ansari has ISI links and charged India with making such allegations to mar Pervez Musharraf's US visit, adds PTI.