Yasin Bhatkal a `sharp man`: Investigators

Yasin Bhatkal, arrested from Indo-Nepal border, is a very "sharp man", investigators tracking him for years said.

New Delhi: Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal, arrested from Indo-Nepal border, is a very "sharp man" and has immense zeal and commitment towards his purpose, investigators tracking him for years said.

According to a police official, at the age of around 19, Bhatkal alias Mohammed Ahmed Siddhibappa was an idler and used to frequent Anjuman Engineering College in Bhatkal town of north Karnataka.

"During a visit in Oct-Nov 2002, he heard a lecture of one Maulana Shish on rights of Muslims in the library. He was very impressed by Shish`s thoughts and started meeting him regularly at his perfume shop which was close to the college," the official said.

It was around that time that Bhatkal came in contact with Unani medicine practitioner-turned-Islamist Iqbal Ismail Shahbandri along with his brother Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri, popular as Iqbal Bhatkal, and Riyaz Bhatkal, now believed to be hiding out in Karachi, sources said.

They said Yasin is a very "sharp man" and has immense zeal and commitment towards his purpose.

On the run for over five years in several countries including Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, 30-year-old Yasin also met Fasih Mohammed in 2003.

Mohammed was an engineering student in the same college. Bhatkal used to visit him in his hostel.

"In February 2003, Bhatkal accompanied Fasih Mohammed to his home in Darbhanga in Bihar and stayed there for 17 days. During the stay, Bhatkal spoke to Mohammed`s relatives and tried to influence them with his ideology," the official said.

In the meantime, Fasih`s father, who was a doctor in Giridih returned home and pulled up him for befriending Bhatkal. He advised Fasih to make friends with boys studying engineering with him and not with other local boys.

But his father`s advice came too late, as he was totally under Yasin`s influence. Fasih Mohammed, was deported from Saudi Arabia last October for his alleged role in the Delhi and Bangalore blasts and operating for IM.
Yasin, who co-founded IM in 2008 along with Riyaz Bhatkal and Abdul Subhan Qureshi, is also considered to be a master of disguises as he was able to give security agencies a slip twice, once in Mumbai and then in Kolkata, sources said.

"He was arrested in Kolkata in December, 2009 as Bulla Malik in a case of fake Indian currency notes. His identity was not cross checked and he was released," the official said.

According to sources, Bhatkal married a girl of Shaheen Bagh locality in Delhi before the national capital was rocked by five blasts in September, 2008.