Had he not been nabbed with Indian Mujahideen’s leader Yasin Bhatkal, Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi — trained by the ISI — could have carried out the terror outfit’s first suicide bombing in India, say counter-terror sources.
Yasin Bhatkal (L), the Indian Mujahideen mastermind and a key suspect in several terror blasts since 2008, and his aide Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi. (PTI Photo)
Akhtar alias Haddi was being prepared for a spectacular fidayeen, or suicide, strike in the coming months, counter-terror officials quoted Bhatkal as saying. Akhtar, too, confessed that he was trained by Pakistani spy agency the ISI in 2010.
One of India’s most-wanted terrorists Bhatkal and Akhtar were picked up by Indian and Nepalese sleuths from Pokhra on August 29 and formally arrested in Raxual, Bihar, along the Indo-Nepal border.
Bhatkal’s arrest is being seen as one of the biggest successes in India’s war against terror. He is believed to have masterminded at least six big terror strikes and is responsible for the death of more than 200 Indians.
“Akhtar had joined Yasin at his hideout in Nepal’s Pokhra only a few months back on the instructions of IM’s chief Riyaz Bhatkal,” said a source. A co-founder of IM, Riyaz Bhatkal, not related to Yasin, lives in an ISI safe house in defence housing authority’s colony in Karachi.
Akhtar, 26, was drafted by Atif Ameen in what is now known as the Azamgarh module of the IM. Ameen was killed in Delhi’s Batla House encounter in September 2008.
Akhtar, who also used Tabrez as an alias, was the one who planted the improvised explosive devices in the July 2011 Mumbai serial blasts, Pune serial blasts of August 2012 and February’s twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, Bhatkal told his interrogators.
Riyaz had also planned a suicide bombing at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, said sources. But, as reported by HT, Yasin Bhatkal has denied IM’s hand in the serial blasts that rocked the Buddhist holy town on July 7, injuring five people.
“He says his men didn’t execute the Bodh Gaya strike though it was one of their targets,” said a source.
Bhatkal and Akhtar are being kept at a high-security paramilitary force camp in the outskirts of Delhi. A joint team of the National Investigation Agency and intelligence officials is questioning them.