Rahil Abdul Rehman Sheikh was responsible for the second deadliest attack on Indian soil after the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings: the July 11 train bombings in Mumbai targeting first class commuters.
Intelligence sources say Sheikh works under the direct orders of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander in Bangladesh and orchestrated the Mumbai blasts after he sent handpicked Muslim youngsters to Pakistan for training.
His major tasks before were to distribute funds to local modules and ensure safe passage to those, who are sent for training to Pakistan.
It is not that Rahil always remained an unknown entity for cops. In April-May 2006, Delhi police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Mumbai Police launched a joint operation to nab Sheikh and Zabiuddin Ansari. Had they been arrested, the July 11 tragedy could have been averted.
Being a prime suspect in the October 2005 Delhi serial blasts, Sheikh was already wanted by the Delhi police. With his LeT activities in Maharashtra coming under the scanner of the Anti Terrorism Squad, the two forces worked out a secret plan to nab him.
Rahil was then hiding at a place in central Mumbai. However, when the Delhi Police-ATS teams surrounded the house where he was holed up, an alert Sheikh jumped from the first floor of his hideout and escaped.
Police sources said Sheikh and Zabiuddin are suspected to have moved to Pakistan from where they are coordinating LeT activities in Mumbai. Intelligence sources say he could also be in Kathmandu, which is another haven for Lashkar operatives.
There is no known photograph of Sheikh and it is said that he refused to have one taken all his life since he felt it is against the tenets of Islam.
Image: A file photo shows rescue workers searching for bodies inside the mangled compartment of one of the blast-hit local trains at Mahim railway station in Mumbai.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
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