Who is Afzal Usmani?
Arrested in Uttar Pradesh five years ago, Usmani used to steal cars and provide them to the operatives to carry out deadly blasts. He is also accused of supplying cars for the attempted bombing in Surat. He was also reportedly booked for a murder attempt in 1996 but fooled the police in 1999 and went to Pakistan on a fake passport after jumping the bail.
During his stay in Pakistan, he worked for operatives engaged in the Kashmir battle. He returned to India after coming close to Jaish-e-Mohammad and facilitated their work through providing arms and ammunition with help of his terror contacts.
Afzal Usmani stole cars and provided them for the terror strikes
Usmani came in contact with the IM thereafter and worked on the logistics. He had reportedly played a big role in setting up the IM's Maharashtra modules and also in the general funding of the outfit. In 2008, he was reportedly involved in the theft of four cars that were used for the Ahmedabad blasts.
A resident of Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, Usmani was known to be a close aide of Aftab Ansari, who authored the January 2002 terrorist attack at the United States Information Centre in Kolkata. Ansari was given death sentence in connection to the terror attack. He was also held for the abduction of Khadim boss Partha Pratim Roy Burman in 2001. Part of the ransom received from the abduction had gone into the planning of the 9/11 terror attacks in the USA.
Usmani also allegedly worked with Bangladeshi worklords to help iniltrators enter the Indian territory.
Authorities might try to assure that losing Usmani shouldn't be a problem for Bhatkal is already under arrest, but that is not true. Usmani could have helped the police to crack the IM modules for he was actively involved in setting them up and this would have facilitated the effort to prove Bhatkal to be guilty.
IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal was arrested with one of his aides in Nihar last month and before that, Abdul Karim Tunda of the Lashkar-e-Taiba was caught. After successive breakthroughs, the escape of Usmani has left the country's security agencies' reputation under a question mark.
The escape of Usmani shows the standard of security culture we have nurtured in this country despite the relentless threats that exist within and around us. Television pictures showed a Mumbai police constable stopping buses on the roads and looking for Usmani inside after the news broke. He was also seen speaking to a Muslim passenger, may be asking if the latter had seen the fugitive!
One thing is certain. The mice are much smarter than the cats.
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