Yasin Bhatkal, founder of Indian Mujahideen, arrested

    NEW DELHI (TIP): Yasin Bhatkal, the Indian Mujahideen mastermind and a key suspect in several terror blasts since 2008, has been arrested in a joint operation by the central intelligence agencies and the Bihar Police. “Yasin Bhatkal has been traced and detained at the India-Nepal border in Bihar. He is presently in the custody of Bihar Police. His interrogation is going on,” Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told newspersons here on August 29 morning. The Bihar Police are interrogating Yasin Bhatkal and will later produce him in a court for transit remand. The arrest of Yasin alias Ahmed Siddibappa alias Shahrukh is being seen as a major breakthrough in the agencies’ protracted efforts to break the back of the Indian Mujahideen, the Lashker-e-Taibabackedindigenous jihadi outfit behind the Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Jaipur blasts. “This is the biggest success after the Batla House operation, following which the IM was forced to slow down its activities,” said an intelligence official.

    Yasin Bhatkal, along with Riyaz Bhatkal, is a co-founder of the IM. Both hail from Bhatkal village in Karnataka. Yasin carried a Rs 10 lakh National Investigation Agency (NIA) reward on his head. Another IM operative, AsadullahAkhtar aliasHaddi, is reported to have been detained along with him. Bhatkal’s arrest comes close on the heels of key LeT man Abdul KarimTunda’s deportation from Nepal. NIA will seek Yasin Bhatkal’s custody. Sources said a joint team comprising central intelligence agencies and the Bihar Police had been camping in Darbhanga in Bihar for his arrest. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and theIntelligence Bureau (IB) played a crucial role in tracing his whereabouts. Delhi Police special cell teams were stationed too on Bihar-Nepal border for last one week. Sources said Indian intelligence agencies and international agencies negotiated Yasin Bhatkal’s custody at Sanauli Border of Nepal near Gorakhpur.

    Though Yasin was earlier arrested by the West Bengal police in 2008, he managed to get bail due to a goof by the police officers who had apprehended him. The officers were unaware of his terror background. Yasin has since been operating from within India, unlike most IM brass who sought a safe haven in Pakistan. He is suspected to have planted the bomb in German Bakery blasts in Pune, where he was allegedly captured on CCTV footage, and this year’s Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad. The IM co-founder managed to give the intelligence and law enforcement agencies the slip many a times, by employing carefullychosen communication methods, such as always calling from a PCO and using chat services like Nimbus and Yahoo to pass instructions to the IM cadres.He even lived in the national Capital’s Shaheen Bagh in 2010 and married a local girl whose father operated an illegal weapons and ordnance factory in Meer Vihar. National security adviser Shivshankar Menon briefed Prime Minister this morning on Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest.

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