Suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Ajaz Shaikh, arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell on Saturday, learnt what police described as “technical camouflaging, including linking, swapping and bouncing networks and IP addresses” as the head of back office operations at a BPO in Pune.
“He allegedly used to handle all emails and accounts of IM operatives. All emails sent to media houses after the terror attacks in Jama Masjid, Varanasi and German Bakery in Pune were sent by him. No one knew the face behind these emails. The emails were drafted in Pakistan and sent to him much before terrorists actually carried out the blasts. He was always aware of the activities of IM operatives and the attacks being planned,” a Special Cell officer said.
Shaikh has a diploma in hardware, networking and Linux operation from an institute in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, after which he joined the BPO. “It is here that Ajaz got himself thoroughly acquainted with the latest in information and communications technology,” the officer said.
“He subscribed for lessons in communication and technology on the internet. While he worked at the BPO, he learnt the art of hacking, bouncing IP addresses and networking. He explored many websites teaching these skills. He learnt how to use loops, make applications and solve equations very quickly. This is how he used to manage emails of all IM operatives,” the officer claimed.
Police said though the emails came from Pakistan, he used to send them from a computer in India. “Even professional hackers could not access the source of the emails. They could only trace the location of the computer or the email ID the mails were sent from,” the officer said.
Police alleged IM leader Riyaz Bhatkal had specifically tasked Shaikh to use his knowledge of Photoshop, CorelDRAW and Microsoft Paint application to prepare fake identity cards and other documents. Shaikh allegedly prepared these documents for Bhatkal and other IM operatives whenever they needed them for rent agreements and other purposes. Forged identity cards were also used to allegedly procure SIM cards and withdraw money from Western Union Money Transfer, police said.
Police said Shaikh had provided fake identity cards to Bhatkal on several occasions. Shaikh had allegedly paid a sum of Rs 6.8 lakh to IM operatives Tehseen Akhtar and Waqas for the Hyderabad blasts in 2013. However, the duo did not know the real name of Shaikh, which made it difficult for investigators to trace him.