Syed Ahmad Kazmi, 50, the freelance journalist arrested for allegedly facilitating an attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife in February, was in ‘indirect touch’ with the operational head of an international conspiracy to target Israeli diplomats, Delhi Police claimed on Thursday. They also claimed he was paid to help such activities in the capital.And later:
Nabbed by the Special Team from his Jor Bagh residence on March 6, Kazmi was allegedly paid $5,500 by one Seyed Ali Sadr Mehdian, an associate, ‘to provide assistance in India’ for the international terror plot during two trips the former made to Tehran in 2011, Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta said.
“Mehdian directed Kazmi to meet Houshang Afsar Irani of Iranian origin, when the latter came to Delhi. Kazmi and Irani had receed the Israeli Embassy together and also discussed the matter of targeting Israeli diplomats through explosive devices,” the commissioner said.
Irani, who is in his early 40s and has an open arrest warrant issued against in his name along with three of his other associates, is the man who stuck the magnetic explosive device on the Innova vehicle carrying Tel-Yehoshua Koren, 42, the wife of an Israeli defence attaché, on the afternoon of February 13, police said.
Technical surveillance, police said, revealed that Irani was in touch with Sedaghatzadeh Masoud, the operational commander and one of the three Iranian men who were poised to target Israeli diplomats in Bangkok on February 14.
Masoud had fled the Thai capital after an accidental explosion at the module’s hideout only be arrested from the Malaysian airport hours later.
“It must be stated that technical investigation has also clearly established telephonic contact between Kazmi and Irani,” said the Commissioner, choosing not to comment on the suspected direct link between Masoud and Kazmi.
On March 9, HT had reported on how Delhi Police zeroed-in on Kazmi after their counterparts in Bangkok helped them get hold of his number from the callers’ list of one of the three Iranians arrested there.
Kazmi and his wife, police claimed, have been receiving foreign remittances regularly and, “till date his wife has received Rs18,78,500 while he received Rs 3.80 lakh as foreign remittances regarding (the source of which) there is no satisfactory explanation,” Gupta said.
Arrested on charges of facilitating an ‘international conspiracy’, Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, 50, had used a global, cellular phone-based closed user group (CUG) to remain in touch with his handlers in southwest Asia for more than a year, sources claimed.Also:
The freelance journalist, who was nabbed by the special team from his Jor Bagh residence on March 6, had allegedly been using a mobile SIM card purchased from Tehran, Iran, to communicate with Seyed Ali Mehdiansadr and Mohammadreza Abolghasemi since early 2011.
“When he went to Iran in 2011, Mehdiansadr and Abolghasemi paid him in dollars and also provided him the SIM card to dodge domestic technical surveillance. He was communicated with and also issued instructions from his handlers in Tehran through this line,” said a senior police officer.
His ‘hotline’ to Tehran, police claimed, played a major role in connecting the technical dots between him, Houshang Irani — the man who executed the attack, and Sedaghatzadeh Masoud, the alleged operational commander of the global operation.
The man who attached a bomb to the car of the Israeli diplomat on February 13 reached the Indira Gandhi International Airport a little over an hour after the explosion and waited six hours for a flight to Kuala Lumpur, officials said on Monday.
Houshang Afshar Irani, the Iranian who is suspected to be the bomber, rushed to the airport immediately after the terror strike. The explosion was reported at 3.20 pm on February 13 and investigators have found records of Irani entering the airport around 4.30 pm.
“It was found during investigations that Irani checked in at the airport counter around 4.30 pm, just a little over an hour after the bomb blast. So, even before immigration authorities could be alerted, he was through with his travel documents and could flee India,” an official said.
But even though the evidence is mounting, many in India - including journalists - are calling for Kazmi's release, claiming that all the evidence is "circumstantial" and a contrived Zionist plot. Rallies are being held throughout the country to support him.
There was a candle-lit vigil at India Gate on March 13 and a sit-in demonstration at Jantar Mantar on March 16, which saw the tremendous participation of people from a wide array of walks of life, blurring religious and ideological lines. A delegation of 13 Muslim MPs, led by Sultan Ahmad of the Trinamool Congress, also visited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and urged him to ensure no injustice was carried out in the case.
Kazmi's son Shauzab Kazmi, SQR Illyasi of Jamaat e Islami and I addressed a public meeting organised by the Democratic Students Union in Jawaharlal Nehru University on March 16. "Kazmi's arrest does not come as a surprise, as it follows the well-known pattern of a minority witch-hunt by the Indian state," said the DSU.
Condemnations of Kazmi's arrest have also come from the Communist Party of India and the Lok Janshati Party.
"Government has made the arrest without a proper probe," said CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan. "This journalist dealt with the Palestine and Israel issue, what's the harm in that? [This] is an attempt by the government to please Israel."
There have been many solidarity marches, peaceful protests, sit-in demonstrations and press conferences held by Kazmi's supporters across the country - including in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Aligarh, Meerut, Lucknow, and even as far afield as the UK and Muscat.
"It is good to see people standing up and speaking out for my father, who has been framed on totally bogus charges," said Kazmi's 23-year-old son, Shauzab. He has been busy attending protests, giving press conferences, meeting lawyers, and looking after the family ever since his father's arrest.
Meanwhile, his supporters have planned a huge demonstration outside the Indian parliament on March 26.