Bhatkal was instrumental in renting a flat in Habib Apartment, Byculla, and visited it often while bombs were being assembled there for the 13/7 terror attack
Mateen Hafeez TNNIndian Mujahideen leader Yasin Bhatkal has spread death in his wake in many parts of the country and among the states that have borne the most brunt of his terrorist activities is Maharashtra.
Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal allegedly participated in, or reportedly had some distant links in, about 15 terror strikes around India over the years. Three of these were in Maharashtra and killed scores. State Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria said on Thursday: “He was the commander-in-chief in India of Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) operations. His name first cropped up on our radar while we were tracking the origin of three terror emails sent before and after the July 2008 Gujarat bomb blasts.”
Officers added that IM’s operational commander Riyaz Shahbandri (Riyaz Bhatkal) often summoned Yasin to Mumbai. “Just before the Gujarat blasts, Riyaz and some others sat in an eatery in Andheri and discussed ways to claim credit for the attack. They decided on sending terror emails. So, Bhatkal was called to Mumbai and instructions issued to him,” said a police officer.
In 2008, Bhatkal reportedly built explosives with “another IM bomb maker, Asif Badar, while staying at Pune’s Ashoka Muse and Kamal Mills society”. The explosives were transported to Ahmedabad and Surat in state buses. An irascible man, Bhatkal “pulled a revolver on a watchman who confronted him as he was about to plant a bomb near a garden in Surat. Riyaz pacified him by reminding that their main job should not get thwarted,” said Maria.
In September-October 2008, Bhatkal took over the reigns of Indian Mujahideen after Riyaz and his brother Iqbal fled the country. Bhatkal became the group’s chief recruiter, motivator, selector of targets, financier, bomb maker and plot executor. “During interrogation, 13/7 blasts accused Haroon Rasheed Naik admitted getting terror training in a Pakistani camp with Yasin,” said Maria.
Twenty-seven people died in the 13/7 attack in which explosives were planted at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and Dadar. The police alleged that Bhatkal not only arranged the funding for the attack but also a flat where the bombs were made. He would frequently visit the Byculla apartment and, with his accomplices living there, stole bikes and scooters to plant the explosives.
In 2009, Bhatkal had travelled to Colombo for a meeting where the conspiracy to bomb German Bakery in Pune was decided. On his return, Bhatkal allegedly took the responsibility of planting the bomb at the bakery.
Patil praises central agencies Mumbai: Home minister R R Patil praised central intelligence agencies on Thursday for catching IM principal Yasin Bhatkal who, he said, is wanted in eight cases in Maharashtra. A team of ATS officers has left to interrogate the terrorist. “He is wanted in cases of terror strikes in Pune and Mumbai. While we will seek his custody, the unit at present is looking to interrogate him about his activities in Maharashtra,” said Patil. CM Prithiviraj Chavan said Bhatkal’s arrest was an outcome of coordination between many agencies and will help in the investigations into blast cases around the country. TNN
The Times of India, August 30, 3013