A skinny boy, who would hide behind his friends whenever in trouble, would make this far in terror business is surprising for both— those who know him and those who look for him.
Asadullah Akhtar, alias Tabrez alias Haddi alias Danial, 26, was wanted for blasts in five states.
He handled the Darbhanga module for well-knit Indian Mujahideen and carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh before he was arrested on Nepal border on Wednesday.
“This is quite a journey for someone who cowered when Atif Amin first explained his plan to his childhood friends five years ago,” said a senior officer who investigated IM’s UP module.
After he gave the police the slip at the Batla House, in which two of his friends Amin and Mohammad Sajid were killed, many on his aides thought he would walk out of the group.
He belied the thought. His name kept cropping up in blasts in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and latest Bihar.
And inputs suggested him working closely with the who’s who of IM—the likes of Bhatkal brothers—Riyaz and Iqbal.
Asad, son of Dr Javed Akhtar, who had a roaring practice in Azamgarh, is a graduate in pharmacy from Integral University, Lucknow.
His entry into IM’s North India chapter — Mahmood Ghaznavi brigade — headed by Amin, is said to be marked by peer pressure.
He was close to Mohammad Saif, an early IM operative arrested in Batla house encounter, who brought him to the IM fold.
And Asad, said to have been hesitant at the start, participated in Ahmedabad and Delhi bombings.
He was at the L-18 flat at Batla House before but left it a day before the police came calling.
While others kept wading into the net, nothing came forth about Asad’s whereabouts. It was believed he has either dropped out or left for West Asia.
His father, on his part, being acerbic to the police action, became instrumental in the formation of Rashtriya Ulema Council (RUC)—a political body consisting of Muslim clerics.
He contested the election on RUC ticket against the incarceration of innocent youths.
His name first figured in July 15 2011 bombings at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House in Mumbai.
He was identified as the one with Waqas Ahmad to have planted the bombs.
A year later, his signatures were all over in the four coordinated blasts in Pune on August 1, 2012.
Security agencies tagged him as the most wanted following his role in twin blasts in Dilsukh Nagar, Hyderabad, on February 21 this year.
Maharashtra ATS announced a cash bounty of one million rupees on him, Waqas, Tabrez Hasan and Yasin Bhatkal.
Investigations into Hyderabad blasts brought out that Asad had become an operational hand of Yasin.
He played a big role in putting together the back-up cell—the Darbhanga module responsible for all the bombings after Batla House encounter.