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Indian Mujahideen's Report Card: Blasts, hits and misses

September 12, 2013 13:55 IST

The Indian Mujahideen's Report Card

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Vicky Nanjappa

Officials of the National Investigation Agency are finding it difficult to extract any information from Yasin Bhatkal, the wily chief of the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

But his aide Asaddulah Akthar is singing like a canary.

Akthar, who was arrested along with Bhatkal from near the Indo-Nepal border on August 29, has admitted during interrogation that he had played a key role in planning and carrying out several terror strikes across India.

According to NIA sources, Akhtar was part of the inner coterie formed by Bhatkal and acted as a foot soldier in all these attacks.

Akthar told NIA officials that he was asked to work alongside a Pakistani national called Waqas.

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Image: Family members stand near the pyre of a victim of the Hyderabad blast
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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The Indian Mujahideen's Report Card

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"I worked with him to plan and carry out three terror strikes -- the Dilksukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad, the 13/7 serial blasts in Mumbai and the Pune German Bakery blast. Yasin Bhatkal, who told me that I needed to work with Waqas, warned me against asking him too many questions and instructed me to just concentrate on my job. All I knew about him was that he was from Pakistan," Akthar told officials during questioning.

A few days before carrying out the serial blasts in Mumbai, Bhatkal rented an apartment at Byculla in south Mumbai for Waqas and Akhtar.

"Waqas and I checked in there just five days before the attack. Yasin was already there and was going about laying the ground work. After I checked in with Waqas at Byculla, we started assembling the bombs. Yasin visited us thrice to supervise the preparations," he said.

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Image: Forensic officials inspect the site of an explosion at Dilsukh Nagar in Hyderabad
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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The Indian Mujahideen's Report Card

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Vicky Nanjappa

"Waqas and I also checked into a lodge in Pune before carrying out the serial blasts there. It was not a successful operation as it had been planned and executed in a hurry. The bombs were assembled and planted with the intention of causing major damage, but due to faulty timers, the explosions were not as destructive," said Akthar.

"Waqas and I worked together to carry out the Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad. This blast was a success as it had the desired effect, in spite of the fact that we had to make some changes at the last minute. We reached Hyderabad a week before the blasts. We had logistical details provided by other operatives and we personally visited the site. We wanted to carry out the attack at the Sai Baba Temple. Had we been able to follow that plan, the calamity would have been much worse. Due to the presence of police personnel in the area, we decided to shift the blast site at the last minute," he said.

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Image: Policemen stand guard at the site of an explosion near Opera House in Mumbai
Photographs: /Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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The Indian Mujahideen's Report Card

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Vicky Nanjappa

Akthar further explained that Waqas was brought in to replace IM operatives Abdus Subhan and Mansoor Pheerbhouy, who were expert bomb-makers.

"While most of us knew how to assemble the bomb, we could not really complete the circuit. Many of our operations failed; sometimes, the bombs didn’t even go off. Waqas, who had been trained in Pakistan, was an expert in this field. Most of the terror strikes we planned with Waqas ended up being  successful," Akthar told the NIA.

Based on the IM terrorist's revelations, NIA officials believe that Waqas is still in India.

"IM still has an expert bomb maker at its disposal. Nabbing Waqas would seriously dent the IM's morale as it will not be very easy for them to replace him," said a NIA official.

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Image: Residents carry rose petals to scatter at the entrance of Zaveri Bazaar, one of the sites of triple explosions in Mumbai
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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