New Delhi: 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.
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.
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.
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 last 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.
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.
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.
A highly motivated and slippery IM operative, Tehsin was wanted for a series of blasts across the country, including the October 27, 2013 attack on a Narendra Modi rally in Patna.
An attempt by intelligence agencies to prod him to surrender through his parents in Samastipur, Bihar was rejected by Tehsin with a terse message that said, “I am not a misguided youth. I know what I am doing.”
Tehsin was also wanted for the Varanasi blasts in 2010, triple blasts in Mumbai in 2011, Pune blasts on August 1, 2012, Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar blasts in February 2013 and Bihar’s Bodh Gaya blasts in July 2013.
An early recruit of IM’s Darbhanga module, Tehsin is a close associate of Yasin Bhatkal and has not only been a planter of many bombs but also a motivator for the outfit. Apart from Yasin, Tehsin used to scout for young Muslim men in a Darbhanga library and indoctrinate them by talking about atrocities against Muslims and preaching a puritanical and fundamentalist version of Islam.
It was Tehsin who established the Ranchi module which was behind both Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts.
Son of a small-time chemist from Maniyarpur village in Samastipur, Tehsin has remained an evasive blob on the radars of security agencies for several years. He escaped from a flat that he shared with Waqas in Mangalore after news of Yasin’s arrest was leaked to the media in August last year.
His meteoric rise in the jihadi ranks came within three years of joining IM and partnering Bhatkal in planting bombs in Varanasi in 2010. Intelligence agencies believe that IM founder in Pakistan Riyaz Bhatkal developed sufficient confidence in Akhtar to let him carry out serial bombings in Hyderabad on his own last year. He carries a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head.
The source stated that Monu is big catch for the Indian agency as he was a leading IM in India since last two years.
Before Monu, Yasin Bhatkal was leading IM operations in India. The Indian agency managed to arrest Yasin last year from India-Nepal border.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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