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India's new 'Most Wanted Terrorists' list

Last updated on: December 21, 2010 08:55 IST

India's new 'Most Wanted Terrorists' list

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Vicky Nanjappa
India's terror picture appears grim. Thirty-one names are part of a new 'Wanted' list charted after the recent Varanasi blast.

The names on the list may not be as big as the ones, which one would find in the dossiers sent to Pakistan but security agencies say that the names on this new list cannot be ignored, as they are the ones who will cause trouble to India in the future.

The 'Most Wanted Terrorists' list comprises jihadis from the Indian Mujahideen and the Jam-I-yyathul Ansarul Muslimeen, which is strongest in Kerala and Karnataka. The JIAM, according to the Intelligence Bureau, is a shadow of the Indian Mujahideen. The outfit came up on the security establishment's radar after the Bengaluru serial blasts.

In addition to this, T Nasir -- the main accused in the Bengaluru blasts -- too has spoken about this organization and has termed it as a growing outfit, which focuses more on recruitments and fund collection for the Indian Mujahideen.

Interestingly, of the 31 names, 10 are from Karnataka while eight are from Uttar Pradesh. Let us take a look at the names and the role each one has had to play in spreading terror in India.

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Image: A police constable on walkie-talkie
Photographs: Reuters
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Indian Mujahideen - Karnataka:

1. Riyaz Bhatkal:
Bhatkal was responsible for setting up the Indian Mujahideen along with Pakistan-based Amir Reza. He started off as an ordinary messenger, giving information to Hindus and Muslims for money, in an already-charged-up communally sensitive town called Bhatkal in coastal Karnataka. He was also accused of murder, which he claimed was a false case. His disgruntlement with the system led the ISI to rope him in to form the Indian Mujahideen. He shuttles between Sharjah and Karachi, and according to the IB is very much active.

2. Iqbal Bhatkal: Also hailing from Bhatkal, he is the brother of Riyaz. He is believed to have influenced Riyaz ٳ decision to a large extent. He was already an extremist before the Indian Mujahideen was formed. He is believed to have helped alter the communal nature of Bhatkal to a large extent. However, after the formation of the IM, he joined the outfit and his area of operation has been more in the state of Gujarat.

3. Yasin Bhatkal: Another brother of Riyaz Bhatkal, his name first came to the picture following the blasts at Bangalore. He was largely into recruitment with his brother Riyaz and handled Karnataka for a long period of time before having to leave the country.

4. Mudassir: Mudassir alias Saif is a master bomb maker. His involvement with the IM started at the time Riyaz decided to change path. Riyaz, who was well known to Mudassir, roped him in immediately and sent him to train in preparation of bombs. He is believed to have prepared the bombs that were used in the Delhi blasts two years back. He too is currently believed to be hiding in Pakistan.


Image: The Bhatkal brothers

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Indian Mujahideen - Uttar Pradesh:

1. Ariz Khan: A key member of the IM originally from Azamgarh, Ariz alias Junaid's major operation was the Delhi blasts two years back. Although he hailed from Uttar Pradesh, his primary focus was on building the Delhi module. He coordinated along with another operative, Shahzad, to carry out both attacks and also recruitments. He fled the country after this incident, but his associate Shehzad was nabbed. 

2. Mirza Shahdab Baig: A key member of the Uttar Pradesh module. According to the IB, he handled most of the IM recruitments. His area of operation was restricted to Uttar Pradesh and he focused on roping in youth from that state itself.

3. Mohammed Sajid and Mohammad Khalid: Once again hailing from Azamgarh, the two jihadis were crucial to the operations in New Delhi. They shuttled between Delhi and UP and tried building a road map for the IM. Besides, they also were very close to Dr Shahnawaz, who today is accused of masterminding the Varanasi attack 

4. Dr Shahnawaz: Believed to be in Sharjah, Dr Shahnawaz was the most crucial member in the IM for the Delhi module at least. Closely associated with the Bhatkal brothers, Shahnawaz -- a resident of Azamgarh, UP -- is said to be controlling operations from Sharjah. His name came to light during the deadly Delhi blasts and once again during the Batla house encounter, after which he managed to flee the country.

5. Asadullah Akhtar: Second-in-command to Dr Shahnawaz, Akhtar, a pharmacist, is said to have joined the IM at the insistence of the former. He and Dr Shahnawaz closely monitored the Delhi blasts and were involved right from the planning stages. He is also currently believed to be in Sharjah.

6. Abu Rashid and Sharfuddin: These two jihadis, belonging to Uttar Pradesh, were foot soldiers in the Indian Mujahideen. They too are believed to have played an active part in the Delhi blasts and helped gather logistic support for the IM. The duo, according to agencies, is in Nepal today.


Image: File photo of the Varanasi blast scene. (Inset) Dr Shahnawaz
Photographs: Reuters
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Indian Mujahideen -- Gujarat

Mujeeb and Alamzeb Afridi: For the Gujarat blasts, the IM was particular that it would not use too many of their operatives from that state, as they did not wish to leave a trail. Mujeeb, who is part of the Gujarat module, joined the IM the day it was launched and helped with logistics during the blasts. He also used the help of his associate Afridi alias Chikna to help the IM operatives have a safe passage into Gujarat to carry out the blasts. However, the role played by the original Gujarat operatives was restricted for the above-mentioned reason.

Indian Mujahideen -- Jharkhand

Danish and Manzar Imamuddin Khan: Probably one of the smallest modules of the IM, these two men were in charge of setting up a larger module at Jharkhand. The two men, reportedly from the IM's Delhi module, had planned afloat to set up full-fledged modules in Jharkhand before the heat was stepped up. There were also reports of these men cozying up to anti-social elements in the state to increase their strength. In addition to this the role of these men in the Surat blasts was also probed. The two men have now fled the country.



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Indian Mujahideen -- Maharashtra 

1. Abdus Subhan: The tech guru started off by editing a newspaper printed by Students of Islamic Movement of India before he made the transition into the IM. While the Bhatkal brothers are credited with setting up the IM, Subhan is the one who breathed life into the organization. His first job was to rope in the arrested Mansoor Pheerbhuoy and set up IM's tech cell, which had foxed investigating agencies to a large extent. The IB says that he not only specifically reported to the Maharashtra module, but had a bigger role to play in the outfit. Like Safdar Nagori, he was in over all charge of the outfit. However, after the serial blasts, he fled the country and there are specific inputs of him hiding in Karachi today.

2. Abu Faisal: He was with the IM in the Maharashtra module and was largely involved in setting up one of the strongest modules in the state at Pune. When Subhan was in the country, he worked closely with him and helped him set up the outfit. In addition to this he also managed to rope in youth to join the movement.

3. Mohsin Chaudhary: Mohsin is a crucial IM member capable of dishing out an attack due to the deep-rooted contacts he has in the state. While the police claim that the Pune module of the IM has been busted following the German Bakery blasts, they still have a cause for concern since Chaudhary is still at large. Chaudhary is the one who masterminded the Pune blasts and his role is under the scanner in the Varanasi blasts as well. Chaudhary is in the Gulf, according to reports.


Image: File photo of the German Bakery blast. (Inset) Mohsin Chaudhary

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The JIAM list -- Karnataka and Kerala

Mohammed Hussain Farhan, Maulana Sultan Shah, Azam, Jasim, Samir Salim Khan, Wasim, KP Sabir, Mohammed Azhar, Yusuf, Shafiq, Raisal PA, Mohammed Shabir: Each of these men had a role to play in the growth of this shadow outfit, which was set up strengthen the roots of both the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the IM in South India. 

The IB says all these jihadis have been using a different name in order to avoid being on the radar.

They helped carry out the Bengaluru blasts under the guise of the JIAM in order avoid heat on IM operatives. However, the investigations that followed and also the interrogation of T Nasir blew the lid of this outfit. 

These operatives were involved in collecting funds and also created a safe passage for funds between South India and the Gulf. 


Image: File photo of the Varanasi blast scene
Photographs: Reuters
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