Unlike the alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) cadre whose arrests precede theirs, the three Indian-born men apprehended by the Delhi Police special cell on Saturday belonged to 'prominent local families' and led respectable lives in Rajasthan.
Sources in the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which assisted the special cell, told HT that the men belonged to an IM sleeper cell which had been dormant for close to half a decade.
"Mohammad Mahroof, who is pursuing an engineering degree from VIT in Jagatpura, Jaipur, belongs to a family of engineers," an ATS official said. "His father is an engineer in the Rajasthan state services and the family owns substantial property in Jaipur."
Intelligence sources told HT that information about the existence of the Jaipur module had come to light after the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi last year.
"About 3000 pages of web chats had been recovered from them which revealed that he had cultivated a sleeper module in Rajasthan," said an IB official.
Sources also said that Mahroof, Waqar Azhar and Saquib had been a part of the IM since the serial blasts of May 2008 – when their role had been restricted solely to providing financial aid to local IM field agents.
The special cell said this was the first time that they had been able to track and arrest Waqas who has given the slip at least thrice. The most infamous of these instances had been his and associate Tabrez alias Tehseen Akhtar's escape from Mumbai's Byculla in January 2012.