Mumbai: A day after it was reported that Yasin Bhatkal was arrested from the Indo-Nepal border, dna has learnt that he was brought to Nepal from the United Arab Emirates by Indian authorities.
Bhatkal, who is in the National Investigation Agency’s custody, was spotted in the UAE by the local intelligence community and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) was brought on board.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which had already prepared a massive dossier on Bhatkal, shared it with R&AW and its UAE counterparts, following which Bhatkal was handed over to the Indian authorities, dna has learnt from reliable sources.
Bhatkal was then taken to Nepal as many of his sleeper cells were located in the Himalayan kingdom. He was permitted to use his satellite phone, which the R&AW and the IB closely monitored for several days and extracted vital information. Another reason for taking him to Nepal was that the UAE authorities did not want any problem from terror outfits.
“There’s tremendous cooperation between the intelligence agencies of several West Asian countries and India following 9/11 and the Riyadh Declaration signed by prime minister Manmohan Singh two years ago,” a security official said.
dna has learnt that Bhatkal was so important in the shadowy world of terror that he even had access to Osama bin Laden. “Bhatkal met Osama a couple of times. He gained the confidence of the Al-Qaeda by his sheer dedication to the cause of jihad and his superior operational capabilities,” a senior intelligence official said.
“This is the reason why his catch is a major achievement. Also, he is a rich source of information,” he said. “His questioning has already revealed considerable sensitive pieces of information and his access to Osama is one of them.”
Bhatkal was the pointsman between the Al-Qaeda and the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Apart from funding the highly secretive Indian Mujahideen outfit, the Al-Qaeda trained IM members.
The seed of jihad and fundamentalism was sowed in the mind of a young Bhatkal when three maulanas of Karnataka returned to the state after a long stint in Saudi Arabia, the centre of the fundamentalist theology of Wahabism.
The maulanas made Bhatkal, a coastal town in Karnataka, their base and started indoctrinating youths like Yasin. He was brainwashed into believing in jihad. He was among those sent to Pakistan for training by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). He later networked with the Al Qaeda.
Yasin belongs to the Ahle Hadees sect, which draws inspiration from Wahabism. Leaders of the Ahle Hadees have denied their ideology breeds terrorism; but the fact remains that most of the arrested terrorists belong to this fundamentalist sect.
Riyaz Bhatkal: Intelligence agencies are now certain that Riyaz Bhatkal, another top terrorist (not directly related to Yasin), was killed in Karachi two years ago.
Underworld don Chhota Rajan had claimed credit for the assassination of Riyaz.
His claim was greeted with considerable scepticism at that time. “But we have no
information about Riyaz for the past two years. We presume that he is dead,” an Anti-Terrorism Squad officer said.
Now, the Centre has warned states to be on guard as the IM is likely to strike at targets across the country to avenge Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest.
Authorities are particularly worried since a slew of religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri and Diwali are in the pipeline.
DNA / S Balakrishnan