Mumbai: Top Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal, who was in touch with a few youths from Aurangabad and Beed districts of Maharashtra through a social networking website, had plans to set up a sleeper cell by recruiting youths through indoctrination.
This is what the security establishment has learnt, according to sources.
Bhatkal was caught by a National Investigation Agency team from the Indo-Nepal border on Wednesday night, in a discreet operation, along with 13/7 Mumbai serial blast case bomber Asadullah Akhtar alias Tabrez.
An officer from Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said on the condition of anonymity that Bhatkal, who is learnt to have been in touch with a few youths, was on a recruitment drive. “It’s is important to know who these people were who were in contact with Bhatkal. Once we know their identities, we will question them,” said the officer.
Youths from Aurangabad and Beed districts have earlier been on the radar of security agencies. In 2006, a huge cache of arms had been seized by the ATS and several suspected terrorists were apprehended. Abu Jundal alias Zabiuddin Ansari too is a native of Beed and has been a top operative of terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Meanwhile, a state ATS team is likely to reach Delhi by Saturday morning. “Yasin had last recruited youths from Darbhanga who carried out blasts in Pune and Mumbai. We want to interrogate Yasin about his plans for Maharashtra,” said the officer.
The ATS has also prepared a questionnaire containing over two dozen questions which specific to Maharashtra. “We will also question him about Tehseen Akhtar Wasim Shaikh, also a planter of the 13/7 bombs who is still wanted,” said the officer.
DNA/Nikhil S Dixit Somendra Sharma