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Top Indian Mujahideen leader arrested

Posted on Mar 25 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, March 25 : Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, the outlawed Indian Mujahideen's (IM) current chief of Indian operations who is an expert in bomb-making, has finally been arrested, Delhi Police announced Tuesday, confirming the story IANS broke a day earlier.

Delhi Police Special Commissioner S.N. Srivastava said 23-year-old Akhtar was formally arrested from near Kakarvitta on the Nepal border Tuesday morning while he was entering India. He was coming from Kathmandu.

IANS Monday reported that Akhtar was already in police custody.

Akhtar, once a close aide and a protege of arrested IM's co-founder Ahmad Siddibappa Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal, was wanted for a series of terrorist strikes in various states.

"After Bhatkal's arrest, Akhtar was handling all India-based modules of the outfit apart from being the key link between IM and other splinter terror outfits which have emerged from the umbrella of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)," said Srivastava.

Police officials described the arrest as a major breakthrough in the war against the shadowy group.

Police sources earlier told IANS that Akhtar, a resident of Samastipur in Bihar, was part of Indian Mujahideen's plan to create mayhem during the staggered Lok Sabha polls starting April 7.

Investigators said Akhtar, the tech-savvy terrorist, was the prime motivator tasked with developing new modules for the outfit and had also become the vital link between the IM and other radical extremist groups emerging from the banned SIMI.

Akhtar was in constant touch with Pakistani national Waqas, who was arrested Friday from Rajasthan also by Delhi Police.

Akhtar was reportedly involved in bomb attacks in several places since 2010, the year he reportedly joined IM. The strikes include a blast at Varanasi's Sheetla Ghat during the evening 'aarti', the 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai and the twin bombings in Hyderabad in 2013.

Following an Intelligence Bureau alert, Delhi Police arrested Waqas and his associates Mohammad Mahruf, Waqar Azhar and Shaquib Ansari from Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan Friday and Saturday. Delhi Police announced these arrests Sunday.

Police also recovered explosives, detonators, electronic circuits and timers from the arrested men.

Srivastava told IANS that Akhtar was the one who received Pakistani national Waqas at the Kathmandu airport in September 2010 and brought him to Delhi to carry out the Jama Masjid bomb attack.

Police sources believe Akhtar was being controlled by India Mujahideen's absconding leader Riyaz Bhatkal, who is involved in several terror attacks in India.

Interrogation of Waqas revealed that Akhtar stayed with him at Munnar in Kerala from December 2013 till mid-January.

"He told Waqas to go to Rajasthan. He also went there for a few days but later left for Kathmandu. He was operating beyond the Indian borders but was on and off visiting various cities in India for keeping a tab on IM's sleeper modules being coordinated by Pakistan-based Bhatkal brothers Riyaz and Iqbal," said Srivastava.

Srivastava said Akhtar's next plan was to change his hideout from Kathmandu to another neighbouring country for which he entered Indian territory.

"IM's bosses had assured him to provide shelter for the time being. But, he was unlucky. As soon as he entered Kakarvitta region, he was arrested," Srivastava said.

Akhtar was being brought to Delhi by a special plane, said Srivastava, adding that he will reach the capital any time Tuesday night.

After executing the Hyderabad bombings in 2013, Akhtar took shelter in Jaipur and Jodhpur where he cultivated the Rajasthan module of IM, consisting of Mahruf, Waqar and Shaquib.

He left Rajasthan after the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal and Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, who is in judicial custody in Delhi.

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