The Indian Mujahideen (IM), the terrorist outfit that has links with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, had been trying to regroup and launch a string of attacks, particularly at places frequented by foreigners, a security official said on Sunday.
Shahzad Alam, an IM member arrested from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh on February 1, had spoken of efforts to regroup and launch attacks this year.
The outfit that calls itself Indian Mujahideen to emphasise its Indian roots and not Pakistani involvement is the prime suspect in Saturday’s blast in Pune.
“We believe the sleeper cells of IM were activated for carrying out the attack… We had been trying to get them but hadn’t succeeded,” a government official said on Sunday.
An Intelligence Bureau official said they had issued an alert about a possible terror attack in January to follow up on the primary alert of October 12 that mentioned cities perceived to be high on the terror list.
Nearly half a dozen IM leaders — Abdul Subhan, Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Shadab Malik, Dr Shahnawaz, Shadab Beg, Ariz alias Junaid and Salman — are on the run.
Two others, Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, who were overseeing the outfit’s operations in southern India, are reported to have moved to Karachi.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad is sending a team to Delhi to question Shahzad, who has also been accused of the 2008 blasts in Delhi.
A Delhi police officer said Shahzad had spoken about the presence of an IM terror module in Pune.
“They want to question Shahzad as they feel he may be able to throw some light on the Pune blast. Also if there are any more sleeper cells that have become active,” said a senior Delhi police officer.