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NIA scans Mumbai for Headley’s terror links
New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 15 (IANS):
Published on 15 Nov. 2009 11:07 PM IST
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Intensifying its probe into suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley’s role in the Mumbai terror attacks, a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths Sunday conducted raids at several places in Mumbai and is likely to question Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul over his alleged friendship with the Pakistan-born American who is in US custody. According to home ministry sources, the NIA team carried out searches at various places in south Mumbai and suburbs of the city, including Goregaon, Malad, Khar, Pali Hill and Lokhandwala. Sources said that NIA sleuths searched the Goregaon house of arrested LeT operative Faheem Ansari, who is in jail with another suspect Sabahuddin Mohammed for conspiring in and preparing maps for carrying out the Mumbai terror strikes, in which over 170 people were killed. Records were scrutinised in two south Mumbai luxurious hotels - Taj and Trident where Headley had reportedly stayed before last year’s terror strikes. The two hotels were among the iconic places attacked by the 10 terrorists who sailed into Mumbai from Karachi. Investigators believe that Rahul Bhatt will help them gather more details on Headley’s visits to Mumbai. Mahesh Bhatt has denied that his son had any links with terrorists, but he admitted that Rahul, a fitness instructor, had indeed met Headley in a gym. Sources said that NIA sleuths have recovered some “incriminating documents” from a hutment colony in Goregaon suburb. But there were no details available on what the documents were about. NIA sleuths will question Rahul Bhatt, who has admitted to having known Headley and also helping him rent a flat near Breach Candy Hospital, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters in Delhi Sunday on the sidelines of a function. Sources said the NIA team in Mumbai will also question three friends of Rahul Bhatt, who was earlier let off after brief questioning by Mumbai Police as he was said to be unaware of Headley’s terror links. Pillai also said nobody has been given a clean chit in the case. “We have not given clean chit to anyone. Investigation is on,” Pillai said. Security agencies in India went into a tizzy after it was known that Headley, who visited India nine times over a three-year period since 2006, was planning major terror strikes in the country on behalf of the LeT. Headley is said to have operated a visa agency in Mumbai for almost two years until July 2008 and had travelled to various Indian cities including Jaipur, Delhi and Bangalore, which were rattled by bomb blasts last year. The NIA team reached Mumbai Saturday to probe the activities of Headley and his alleged accomplice Tahawwur Hassan Rana, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, who were arrested Oct 3 by US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for planning terror strikes in India and Denmark. The NIA has registered a case against Headley and Rana and has started probing their connection with last year’s terror attacks in India including the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. Meanwhile, the FBI has filed fresh evidence against Rana. The evidence was produced in a sealed envelope to a court in Chicago -- the FBI has asked the court not to open it. Rana is scheduled to be produced in a court in Chicago Nov 19 when his bail plea would be heard. Prosecutors have also sought 58 more days from that date to study fresh evidence against Rana unearthed during recent raids.

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