If intelligence agencies are to be believed, Bihar's link with terror suspects has been oldest and many key operatives of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) belong to different parts of north and central Bihar.
One of the founder members of IM, Fasih Mahmood allegedly involved in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bangalore and the shooting near Jama Masjid (Delhi) in 2010, belonged to Darbhanga. He got to know the Bhatkal brothers, Riyaz and Iqbal, while still in college.
Known as IM's "Bihar module", it is considered by the intelligence agencies as "one of the oldest modules" formed by the terror outfit. It was "dormant" and "kept off operations" since it was part of the core group and provided only ideological support under the guidance of Yasin Bhatkal and Mohammad Tariq Anjum Hassan.
Sources said, actual operations were carried out by operatives from Pune and Beed in Maharashtra and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh till they were busted or eliminated. The responsibility for the nationwide attacks fell on the "Bihar module" operatives mostly drawn from Darbhanga, Samastipur, Nalanda and Munger.
Both Tariq Hassan and Fasih Mahmood belonged to Bihar and were active members of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). They came in contact with Bhatkal brothers while they were students of an engineering college in Karnataka in 2000. By 2003, they were roped in by Aamir Reza Khan, allegedly involved in the attack on Kolkata American Center and kidnapping of owner of a shoe company. It is learnt, that the ransom money from the shoe company owner was allegedly used in 9/11 bombings by Mohammad Ata.
After his arrest Tariq reportedly revealed that Fasih was responsible for holding accounts and raising funds from the Middle East. A core team member, Fasih was duly informed before every strike the IM carried out.
The Bihar module had no connection with the blasts carried out by the IM between 2005 and 2008. After the Batla House encounter in 2008, the Bhatkal brothers asked their Indian operatives to revive the Bihar module for ground action.
In April, the NIA had combed Samastipur, Darbhanga, Munger and Madhubani districts for Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, allegedly a member of the IM involved in terrorist strikes in the country. Akhtar, considered to be close to Yasin Bhatkal, hails from a village in Samastipur. The NIA has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information that could lead to Tahsim's arrest.
The NIA team had arrested Mohammad Danish Ansari, an alleged operative of Indian Mujahideen, from Chakjora village in Darbhanga in January 2013. Ansari is allegedly also a close associate of Yasin Bhatkal, who took shelter in Bihar in 2009-10 in the guise of an ayurvedic doctor.
In May 2012, the Karnataka police arrested Kafil Akhtar, a suspect in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast case, from Barh Samaila village in Darbhanga. In 2010, an Afghan militant, Mirza Khan was arrested from Purnia railway station. He used to make safe passage to Pakistan via Bangladesh through Bihar. A chargesheet was filed against Mirza after his links with Al-Qaeda was established.
In 2009, another Madhubani-born terrorist Mohd Omar Madani was arrested by Delhi police. Lashkar-e-Taiba Nepal chief Madani was assigned the task of recruiting young men from Bihar for insurgency, after proper training in handling arms and explosives.
In 2006, the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) had flown down to Patna in a special IAF aircraft IL-76 and arrested two militants - Kamal Ahmad Ansari and Khalid Sheikh - from Madhubani district. The two Pakistani modules were wanted for their involvement in 7/11 Mumbai train serial blasts. While Ansari was nabbed from Basopatti, Khalid was arrested from Malmal village in Madhubani.
The arrests, however, created a controversy when the Karnataka police arrested Kafil Akhtar without informing the Bihar police. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had shot off a letter to his Karnataka counterpart terming the arrest as "brazen violation of the rule of the law" in which police of a different state arrested a suspect without informing the Bihar police.