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ISLAMABAD, Aug 13: Two cousins allegedly involved in a suicide attack on Bari Imam shrine and assassination of Agha Ziauddin in 2005 were arrested from Nilor on Saturday, police said.

Two hand grenades and other weapons were recovered from them.

At least 20 people were killed and 100 others wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself at the shrine on May 27, 2005.

Arrested from Thanda Pani in Nilor, police said the two were planning to target leaders of a religious group in the capital.

Hafiz Abdul Maroof, 27, and Mohammad Nadeem Gilgiti, 31, are active members of banned outfits – Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ).

As the rest of the terrorists involved in the 2005 suicide attack on the shrine were nabbed, the two cousins had disappeared.

Sources in the police said Hafiz Maroof, a native of village Gorikot in district Astor, left education from primary. After his father brought him to Rawalpindi, he learnt Quran by heart. His cousin, Nadeem, got him a job in a seminary affiliated with Jannat Masjid in Karachi.

In Karachi he met with Mufti Shahid alias Imam Pak, an active member of LJ’s Asif Choto Group. Shahid, a native of southern Punjab, took Hafiz Maroof to Peshawar and introduced him with Usman Chota, amir (leader) of LJ Punjab.

During his stay in Peshawar, Arshad Satti, another LJ member, brainwashed and trained him into a militant.

Sources said when Maroof returned to Rawalpindi, Nadeem also joined the network of Satti.

At that time Abdul Sattar and Shahzad Gul, two members of the Satti network, had unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Jalil Naqvi. Sources said they wanted to kill Mr Naqvi in revenge for the assassination of SSP chief Maulana Azam Tariq.

The suicide attack on the shrine was planned in 2005 as Mr Naqvi was scheduled to address a Majlis.

Nadeem was sent to Gilgit to bring a suicide bomber from a man called, Commander Babar. According to sources, on May 24, 2005, Nadeem and the suicide bomber arrived at Pirwadhai Bus stand and went to Arshad Satti’s residence in Shakrial.

As explosives hidden in a bicycle tyre were brought to the residence, Maroof purchased ball bearings and screws from Raja Bazaar. All this was handed over to another member of the group, Amanullah alias Jamal, to make a suicide jacket.

Sources said on May 27, 2005, Maroof, along with the suicide bomber, Usman Chota, Commander Babar, Amanullah, and Shahzad Gul left for Bari Imam, while Arshad and Nadeem stayed back at the residence.

After arrival at Bari Imam, they had tea, except the suicide bomber as he was fasting. After leaving the suicide bomber there, Amanullah and Maroof left the shrine.

But sources said despite the suicide attack, Mr Naqvi escaped unhurt. As he survived another attempt to assassinate him, sources said Commander Babar brought another suicide bomber – Rahmat Kareem, 24. But the plan could not be carried out as in the meanwhile Arshad, Asif Choto and Usman Chota had been arrested.

Sources said after the arrests, Maroof left for Saudi Arabia. He came back in March this year and started working in a goods company in Rawalpindi’s Ganjmandi.

Soon after arrival, Omar, a native of Abbotabad, called Maroof, asking him to get together his old LJ colleagues for targeting leaders of a sectarian group.

On June 21 this year, Maroof met Nadeem again in Chak Baili Khan and both came to Rawalpindi on the next day.

Sources said Nadeem, born in village Thali in district Astor in 1980, got admission in Islamabad’s Jamia Faridia in 1999 where he met with Mohammad Bilal, a member of SSP.

Bilal, Nadeem and three other men of SSP’s Gilgit chapter planned and killed Agha Ziauddin in January 2005 in Gilgit along with his two gunmen. In the crossfire, one of the SSP men, Zubair, was killed and two other attackers, Nawab Alam and Dr Shakirullah were arrested.

Sources said they disclosed involvement of Bilal and Nadeem in the killing.

After the killing of Ziauddin, Nadeem left for Karachi. Later he, Arshad and Maroof planned the suicide attack on Bari Imam in May 2005.

After the suicide attack, sources said, Nadeem went into hiding – first in Lahore and then in Abbotabad. Last year, sources said, he went to attend Tableeghi Ijtima in Raiwind and met with Sayed Pathan, who arranged a fake CNIC for him, renaming him as Babar Hussain.