The Buddhist pilgrimage site of Bodh Gaya, which was rocked by serial blasts on Sunday, was on the terror radar of Pakistan-based militants for some time now, according to police and security officials.
The alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives arrested in connection with the failed Pune bombings in August last year had told interrogators that they did a recce of Bodh Gaya with the intention of carrying out a fidayeen (suicide) attack.
Sunday’s attack is believed to be a retribution for the atrocities committed by Myanmar on Rohingya Muslims.
This IM terror module was busted by the Delhi police last October. "We have informed the Bihar police about the recce done by the IM operatives," Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, had said at the time.
The operatives' plan was approved by top IM leaders, Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal. The arrested operatives, Syed Maqbool and Imran, had done a recce of Hyderabad’s Dilsukhnagar as well, which was attacked in February this year.
In fact, after the Dilsukhnagar blasts, the Union home ministry had sent an alert to Bihar to stay extra vigilant and beef up the security.
"In fact, warnings were repeatedly sent to the Bihar security authorities about the terror threat to Bodh Gaya," said a security official who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Riyaz and Iqbal have been intending to set up a team of suicide bombers for a long time now. They had asked Atif Ameen, their top operative then, to set up the team but the plan could not materialise after Ameen was killed in the Batla House encounter in September 2008.
They had planned to name the team Shaheed Al Zarqawi brigade, after the slain al Qaeda commander Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.