NEW DELHI: After a decade of searches and mis-steps, Indian intelligence agencies finally nabbed Yasin Bhatkal, one of India’s most wanted for several terror attacks and founder of the Indian Mujahideen (IM).
Bhatkal, whose real name is Mohammed Ahmed Sidibapa is 30 years old and hails from the coastal town of Bhatkal in Karnataka.
Bhatkal was picked up by security agencies along with another IM leader Akhtar, official sources said. Yasin is being brought to Delhi.
He was the mastermind behind the IM along with his cousins Riyaz and Iqbal. Like his predecessors, Yasin was also hiding in the UAE when Indian intelligence agencies managed to track him down.
It is believed that the other alleged terrorist and bomb maker Abdul Karim Tunda helped locate Bhatkal since both of them had been in touch.
Using a combination of wire taps and human intelligence, Bhatkal was tracked and deported to Nepal before being packed off to the Indian border to be arrested formally.
Like the other alleged terrorists, Bhatkal was also travelling under an assumed name using a Pakistani passport, sources told dna.
Bhatkal had set up the Azamgarh and Darbhanga modules of the IM. He provided training, funding and material for a series of terror attacks from Gujarat to Maharashtra and probably even Delhi, said sources.
“We will know after the interrogation starts,” a senior intelligence official told dna.
Ironically, Bhatkal was arrested in 2008 by the Kolkata police in a fake currency case. Unfortunately, due to lack of coordination, the Kolkata Police had no clue who he was.
Bhatkal assumed a false identity and managed to escape before a Delhi Police team could arrive to confirm who he was. Since then he was believed to have slipped into Bangladesh and then to Karachi in Pakistan.
It is believed that he had personally provided training to other members of the IM in the coastal town of Bhatkal and the Cardamom Hills in Kerala.
Several other alleged IM terrorists like Abdul Sathar received training under Bhatkal. Sathar too recently returned to India from the UAE.
The NIA believes that in 2010, Bhatkal planted the bomb that exploded at the German Bakery in Pune, killing 17 people.
He was also spotted on CCTV cameras after the German Bakery blast in Pune. He was seen walking away after planting a backpack full of explosives.
Bhatkal, along with three aides Tahaseen Akhtar Wasim Aktar Shaikh (23), Asadulla Akhtar Javed Akhtar (26) and Waqas alias Ahmed (26) were allegedly behind three coordinated bomb explosions at Opera House, Zaveri Zazaar and Dadar West in Mumbai on July 13, 2011, leaving 27 dead and 130 injured.
In February this year, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh each to anyone giving information on Yasin and the three aides.
Except Tahaseen, who planted a bomb in the Dadar blast, the rest three were also involved in the four co-ordinated low-intensity explosions, which struck the busy arterial road in the heart of Pune city on August 1, 2012. Eight accused had been arrested in this connection.
In December 2011, Delhi police had also announced a reward of Rs 15 lakh for any information leading to the arrest of Yasin in several terror cases, including three in Delhi.