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February 07, 2009 19:33 IST

The cracking of the Bangalore serial blasts case has confirmed security agencies' claims about Lashkar-e-Tayiba's [Images] links with the dreaded Indian Mujahideen [Images].

Interrogation of terror suspects revealed that they belonged to a terror module in Kerala [Images] operated by the Lashkar.

Giving more proof of the close links between the Lashkar and the IM, interrogations revealed that the cadres were constantly monitored by Riyaz Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan alias Tauqueer. While Bhatkal headed operations for the Lashkar in south India, Subhan was in charge of the Indian Mujahideen.

Abdul Sattar, one of the accused in the Bangalore blasts case, says that the orders to carry out the attack came from both Bhatkal and Subhan. The duo was in constant touch with Sattar and monitored every bit of the operation.

They even coined the code word for the Bangalore operation, Tomato Work.

The arrested men also revealed that they returned to Kerala after the Bangalore assignment and after having spent some time there were directed to leave for Kashmir. Lashkar has been constantly sending Indian Mujahideen operatives from Kerala to train in Kashmir, they added.

Their brief was to specialise in Kashmir and fight alongside the Lashkar in the Valley.

The accused disclosed that from Kerala they went to Kashmir via Hyderabad, trained there for a couple of months and then returned to Kerala.

Intelligence Bureau sources told that the Lashkar is short-staffed for its Kashmir battle and has been constantly preparing youth from Kerala. Over the past one year, nearly 100 youth -- who form part of the IM module in Kerala -- have been sent to train in Kashmir.

The Lashkar finds the Kerala wing of the IM to be the most dedicated and hence has chosen its cadres for Kashmir.

All these operations in South of India were being monitored by Riyaz Bhatkal, who was also handed over additional charge of overseeing the IM when it was being set up.

Bhatkal, according to the IB, is a crucial link in the terror network. It is also said that Bhatkal was aware of the November 26 attack in Mumbai [Images] when it was being planned and helped in arranging local help.

Bhatkal, who originally was an underworld operative, was handpicked by the Lashkar for its south-based operations. The IB says that the Lashkar was impressed with his dedication.

Besides, Bhatkal shared a good relationship with IM mastermind Abdul Subhan and guided him in all the operations.

Both Bhatkal and Subhan are missing and a massive manhunt has been launched for the duo. While Subhan is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, Bhatkal, according to security agencies, is in the Gulf.

IB sources say that nabbing both these men would be crucial to several terror-related probes.

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