Haroon — an elusive Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, whose full name is still not available — has become a crucial figure for agencies investigating the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and Delhi.
Haroon, who hails from West Bengal, has been travelling across the country to communicate with sleeper modules and recruit fresh blood for the terrorist outfit, claimed ATS sources.
The sources, who declined to be named saying they were not authorised to speak to the media, said they suspected that Haroon was acting as the bridge between remnants of the Indian Mujahideen from Azamgarh and Karnataka who they suspect carried out the July 13 Mumbai serial blasts.
“Soon after the infamous Batla House encounter in Delhi in 2008, seven operatives from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh had fled their homes. And according to Maharashtra ATS officials, another 15-17 IM operatives, associated with the Azamgarh module, had fled after the encounter. Though still in hiding, the operatives have regrouped,” a source in a central security agency said.
Prominent among those who had fled Azamgarh in 2008 are Assadullah Akhtar, an expert in wiring explosives, and Abu Rashid. They were part of the core team of Indian Mujahideen’s Azamgarh module before co-founder Sajid Israr Sheikh was arrested, and operational commander Aatif Amin was killed in the Batla House encounter, added ATS sources.
The ATS sources claimed Haroon’s association with his handlers and accomplices in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the fact that he published jihadi literature was revealed when the Gujarat police interrogated Danish Riyaz, an IM operative who was arrested from Vadodara in June.
The report details of Riyaz’s interrogation were shared with central intelligence agencies, as well as with anti-terrorist squads of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.