On September 19, 2008, when news of the Batla House encounter in Delhi reached Dr Shahnawaz Alam in Lucknow, the IM chief told the other members of the Azamgarh module to leave the country.
Intelligence sources have revealed that Shahnawaz and the four IM operatives, who had fled the country then are in the forefront of efforts to regroup IM and are also main suspects in Varanasi and Delhi's Jama Masjid blasts.
Shahnawaz, a unani doctor by profession, had in 2008 crossed over to Nepal with the IM operatives and reached a place called Butah. They arranged for forged Nepali passports and took a flight to Sharjah.
After getting his degree in unani medicine (BUMS) from Siwan in Bihar, Shahnawaz had taken a job in a hospital in Lucknow. He was one of the initial recruits in IM. He was instrumental in recruitment of Atif Ameen (killed in Batla House encounter) and other Azamgarh boys. Later on he took the backseat and became planner than executioner. He planned every IM operation along with Bhatkal brother- Iqbal and Riyaz, Sadiq Shaikh and Amir Raza Khan - all top leaders of IM.
Sources say after reaching Sharjah Shahnawaz contacted Amir Raza Khan in Karachi. When Amir Raza came for meeting he brought along Iqbal Bhatkal. They met regularly in Sharjah after that to outline future plans of IM, launching 'fidayeen' attacks and focusing on tourist places and 'high value' targets.
Salman, one of participants in these meetings and later on arrested by intelligence agencies in India while on a recruitment mission, told investigators that on the instructions of Shanawaz he took a flight to Karachi for training in arms and ammunition in December 2009.
Salman was received by Riyaz Bhatkal at Karachi airport. Salman disclosed that Riyaz Bhatkal was planning to launch a fidayeen (suicide) cadre via Nepal in India.