Even as a plethora of central intelligence agencies took turns in blaming one banned outfit after another following carnage outside the Delhi High Court on September 7 last year, the Indian Mujahideen's (IM) tactical brain was right below their proverbial nose(s).
Mohammad Tariq Anjuman Hasan, the 31-year-old civil engineer who allegedly helped form the homegrown terror group in 2003, continued to quietly stay at a non-descript location in southeast Delhi's Shaheen Bagh more than two months after the blast that claimed 14 lives.
"Tariq was in Delhi till late November last year," a senior investigating officer told Hindustan Times.
"He left only after the IM's six members, who were part of their new Bihar module, were arrested from Selayur in Chennai between November 28 and 30 last year," added the officer.
Indoctrinated by Riyaz and Iqbal, the Bhatkal brothers, when he was studying at the Anjuman Engineering College in Karnataka's Bhatkal village, Tariq had allegedly been instrumental in transforming the Student's Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) into the IM.
Tariq was nabbed by the special team of the Delhi Police, credited with uncovering the IM's sway in rural Bihar before neutralising its latest module in Darbhanga, from Nalanda on Thursday afternoon.
"When he learnt about the crackdown on other IM members, he left his job on November 22 and shuttled between his friends' residences in Delhi before finally leaving for Bihar on November 28," an officer said.
Sources said that Tariq had first come to the Capital in 2007 - a year before a series of blasts rocked the city and took up a job at a consultancy firm in Khirki Extension.
Interestingly, the IM's most-wanted man, Yasin Bhatkal alias Shahrukh, as per the location of his phone, was in the Capital at least till November 20 last year. He then left for Chennai where he was to give the Delhi Police the slip by a whisker seven days later.
"We are questioning him about the existence of other IM modules in the country. Tariq is the closest IM member to the Bhatkal brothers, who escaped to Karachi in 2009," the officer added.