A covert operation of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to crack down on the Islamic State’s (IS) Malwani module late last year reportedly came a cropper after an autorickshaw driver tipped off the operatives, helping them escape.
Sources said investigations had led the IB team as well as a team of the Andhra Pradesh police to Malad in suburban Mumbai, where 19-year-old Khalid Ahmed Ali Nawazuddin alias Rizwan — the second-in-command of the terrorist organisation’s India operations — was reportedly hiding. It was by monitoring Rizwan that the IB caught wind of the Malwani module.
Both Andhra Pradesh police and IB officials knew about Rizwan’s plan to visit Mumbai in the first week of December, and had accordingly tasked their personnel to monitor him and other terror suspects. “Officers of the Maharashtra anti -terrorism squad (ATS) were not even aware that around 12 people from Goregaon and Malwani have been radicalised, and were planning to join the Islamic State,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.
On the day of Rizwan’s arrival, Mohsin Sayyed — an alleged IS sympathiser and autorickshaw driver — came to receive him at Malad station with two colleagues, Wajid Shaikh and Noor Mohammed. Unknown to each other, a bike-borne IB sleuth and an Andhra Pradesh police officer were monitoring Sayyed and the others from a distance.
After Rizwan arrived and the four boarded Sayyed’s autorickshaw, the police officer tried asking a motorcyclist nearby to help him follow the suspects — only to be turned down. Incidentally, the motorcyclist was the IB sleuth tasked with observing the suspects.
The officer then hopped into an autorickshaw and prodded its driver to follow Rizwan and the others to Malwani by citing his credentials as a law enforcer. When the four finally alighted from the vehicle, he began tracking them on foot.
However, the officer did not know that the autorickshaw driver who had ferried him to Malwani was an acquaintance of Sayyed, and would soon inform him of his pursuers. Sayyed, Shaikh and Mohammed left Mumbai the very next day.
Sayyed was finally picked up in New Delhi in February this year while the Maharashtra ATS arrested Rizwan from his home town in Uttar Pradesh.