Friday, August 30, 2013

Indian Mujahideen’s serial bomber Yasin Bhatkal held


Was Based In Nepal As Fake Unani Doctor

 

Bharti Jain, Deeptiman Tiwary & Neeraj Chauhan TNN

New Delhi: Yasin Bhatkal, one of India’s most wanted terrorists responsible for several bombings that have claimed over 200 lives, has been arrested.
 
    The 30-year-old, whose real name is Ahmed Siddibappa, was picked up from Pokhara in Nepal where he was living in the guise of a Unani doctor. The successful operation of the Intelligence Bureau, which was facilitated by Nepal, also yielded a bonus in the form of Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, an absconding front-ranking member of the Azamgarh module of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) who had played a crucial role in the 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai.
 
    With the police of different states on his trail, Yasin had made Nepal his base. He would come to India only for plotting and perpetrating terror attacks. The vast network of associates he had created in the nearby Darbhanga district helped him stay away from India and yet operate efficiently. In the event, it was the success of IB in tracking one of his assets which led to the high-ranking fugitive.
 
    The arrest of Yasin, who carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh, is a major breakthrough for the Indian security establishment’s efforts to neutralize IM which overcame setbacks inflicted by security agencies to resume its terror campaign against India.
 
WILL HIS ARREST CRIPPLE IM?  
While there’s no guarantee that this will put an end to IM attacks, it is certainly one of the biggest terrorist catches. Bhatkal is arguably bigger than Kasab — Kasab was a foot soldier, Bhatkal a recruiter and mastermind of attacks. Arrest is a blow to IM as Bhatkal could provide key information regarding both domestic & Pakistan terror operations, sleeper cells and modules, commanders as well as Pakistani handlers  
 
Tip-off from Darbhanga led to Bhatkal
    Yasin, who came from the same town Bhatkal in coastal Karnataka as two fugitive commanders of IM Riyaz and Iqbal, was at the forefront of the effort to revive the terror outfit, and would often go to the extent of personally participating in attacks such as in Pune’s German Bakery and Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2010, Mumbai serial blasts in 2011, Pune’s Jangali Maharaj Road blast in 2012 and twin blasts in Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar in 2013.
 
    Besides being good at making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Yasin also radicalized and recruited youth, particularly from Bihar’s Darbhanga region. A proxy of LeT, which was launched at the instance of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, the IM has been blamed by Indian security agencies for blasts in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Jaipur. The attacks attributed to the IM have claimed 222 lives, and maimed several hundreds more. This is more than the lives lost in the 26/11 attack.
 
    The toll does not include the 187 who perished in the Mumbai train attack of 2006: a carnage which is now suspected to have been executed by the IM. “This is the biggest success (against IM) after the Mumbai crackdown and Batla House operation (of September 2008), after which IM was forced to slow down its activities,” an officer summed up the significance of the catch on Thursday from Nepal. He said that besides planting bombs himself, Yasin would also carry explosives to members of IM modules. Saif, an IM operative who is in jail, has told interrogators that Dr Shahrukh — an alias used by the Yasin — had provided explosives for the 2008 serial blasts in Ahmedabad.
 
    “Yasin Bhatkal has been traced and detained last night at the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar. He is presently in custody of Bihar police. His interrogation is going on,” home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, even as preparations were on to fly Yasin to Delhi on Friday.
 
    The agencies caught up with Yasin on the basis of a tipoff from Darbhanga district in Bihar: a region the IM terrorist has been linked to since he radicalized a Muslim youth while reportedly pursuing an engineering course. He frequented the district, and played a major role in raising what intelligence agencies call the IM’s Darbhanga module. Though a late addition to the IM’s units, the Darbhanga module soon gained in importance, with its members like Qateel Siddiqui, Mohammad Adil and Gayur Jamali participating in terror attacks across the country.
 
    Yasin, who escaped identification when caught by Kolkata police for carrying counterfeit currency in 2009, did not try to fake his identity this time. “He betrayed little emotion when our officials identified him from the three scars on his face and told him his game was up,” said a police officer. Yasin guided the cops to Asadullah ‘Haddi’. Son of an influential doctor from UP who played a key role in rallying clerics against the Batla House encounter and arrests of terror suspects, Haddi was living in the guise of Daniyal.
 
    Coming on the heels of the arrest of Abdul Karim Tunda, who orchestrated a series of blasts across Delhi and elsewhere in the 90s, the arrest was also reflective of the Indian security establishment’s growing cooperation with Nepal whose approach facilitated the hijack of Indian Airlines aircraft, IC- 814, in 1999.
 
Why didn’t Bihar cops question Bhatkal? B ihar raising Police the ’s Darbhanga decision not module to question of IM came Bhatkal as about a surprise his role . Sources in said that although IM terrorists are suspects in the serial blasts in Bodh Gaya, Bihar Police did not question Yasin about his network in the state. According to sources, Yasin has an array of contacts in Bihar, particularly in the Darbhanga region, and would often take shelter in the state to dodge cops looking for him. “Any police force would have liked to keep him with them for information on terror attacks and members of terror modules,” said an officer. TNN


‘Slipmaster’ eluded police forces by using mobiles sparingly & staying a step ahead

Mateen Hafeez & Deeptiman Tiwary TNN


Mumbai/New Delhi: Yasin Bhatkal must be the only terrorist to have played such a long hide-and-seek game with Indian agencies despite being in the country all along.
 
    Unlike most top terrorists, who invariably melted into Pakistan or West Asia after terror strikes or after their names cropped up on agency radars, Bhatkal chose to stay back and conducted blast after blast for five years despite every agency trailing him.
 
    For someone who claimed to be an engineer, he shook off agencies by staying off phones and used modern means of communication sparingly. Sources in the security establishment doggedly tracking Bhatkal for years, say he seldom made calls. When he did, he used public booths. On rare occasions when he used cellphones, the numbers were obtained on fake identities. Worse, the phones weren’t used for too long.
 
    Most of his important communications were through chat services like Nimbuzz and Yahoo. “These he used sparingly—only when an operation had to be put in motion and instructions given. He believed in meeting people personally and discussing plans. He moved with a core group that acted together and personally planted bombs,” an officer tracking him said.

    Security agencies tracked several of his calls, mostly after he stopped using the number. Many of his chats were flagged, but by the time agencies cut through the red tape to seek information from foreign servers, Bhatkal had not only moved to a new thread online but also to a new location physically. 

    “This explains why we came close to nabbing him several times but failed. When
ever he used mobiles, conversations were brief and snappy. By the time we tracked the chatter, he had moved on,” the officer said.     It explains how Yasin remained holed up in a Darbhanga village for more than a year before conducting the 2011 Mumbai blasts. He planned the conspiracy at the village, testing bombs in a mango orchard and test-firing guns, but no one ever got to know. 

    Once he was nabbed in Kolkata but walked free pretending to be the son of a businessman. In November 2011, IB learnt he was at the house of suspected IM operative, Abdur Rehmand at Selaiyur, Chennai. The IB team reached half an hour too late. Check points at railway and bus stations were in vain. In October 2008, he escaped when Karnataka Police delayed a raid on ahideout near Kopa in Chikamagalur after raids on IM operatives in Mangalore.

    In December 2011, he gave the slip to Delhi police Special Cell and Maharashtra ATS when they laid a trap outside Mumbai’s Habib Apartment thinking he would return. He saw more than 100 plain clothes cops outside the building and never returned.

Bhatkal planted the bomb at German Bakery 
 
The Times of India, August 30, 2013

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