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Exclusive! How IM's bomb expert was caught

Last updated on: April 01, 2014 11:38 IST

Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa -- in a five-part series -- reveals how the Intelligence Bureau and security agencies painstakingly tracked the Indian Mujahideen leadership.

Part I: How IM terrorist Tehsin Akhtar was arrested

Here, Vicky Nanjappa reveals how Waqas Ahmed, the Zaveri Bazaar bomber, was captured, averting a major terrorist attack in Rajasthan.

For the Intelligence Bureau, capturing Waqas Ahmad was crucial.

Not only was he one of the top Indian Mujahideen leaders -- which included Yasin Bhatkal, Assadullah Akhtar and Tehsin Akhtar -- but his arrest could disrupt the IM.

Besides, it would give the Bureau a better understanding of Pakistan's role in IM operations.

Ahmed, a Pakistani national, is one of the main accused in the July 13, 2011 triple bomb blasts in Mumbai.

An adept bomb maker, the IB had been on Ahmed's trail since the 13/7 blasts, but he fled to Pakistan soon after the attack.

He returned some 16 months later to coordinate another attack. His signature was reportedly traced in the February 2013 Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad.

The crucial breakthrough came a year later. The IB tracked and detained Tehsin Akhtar near the India-Nepal border.

His arrest was registered three days later to enable the agency to track down Ahmed, who was on his way to execute a lethal IM operation in Rajasthan.

This time, he was reportedly planning to deviate from an ammonium nitrate-based bomb to one that used hydrogen peroxide for greater impact.

During his initial interrogation, Akhtar divulged the Rajasthan terror plot. He revealed he was in touch with Ahmed on e-mail and would have met up with him in Rajasthan after he returned from Nepal.

IB agents sent an e-mail from Akhtar's account to Ahmed, telling him that he was on his way back from Nepal and that they would meet late on March 22 in Ajmer.

The e-mail was sent on March 20. Ahmed responded the next afternoon with an 'ok.'

Following this, the Delhi Police's Special Cell -- which has been hunting IM leaders in connection with the 2005 Diwali blasts and the 2006 Jama Masjid blast -- was tipped off.

When Ahmed showed up, he was captured.

During the interrogation, the Pakistani terrorist provided information about the Rajasthan attack and about three others who were part of his operation.

Ahmed's arrest was kept a secret until the trio were picked up from Jodhpur.

Part III: How Lashkar's discarded bomb maker was captured

Image: The Honda Activa scooter used for the Zaveri Bazaar bombing. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru