Pakistani national Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas, who was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in March this year for his alleged role in terror attacks by the Indian Mujahideen between 2011 and 2013, was trained in camps run by the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan, investigations are learnt to have revealed.
The Pakistani Taliban carried out the audacious nightlong attack on Karachi airport earlier this month, in which 38 people, including the attackers, were killed. The attack triggered the Pakistani military’s ongoing airstrikes against militant strongholds along the country’s western border.
Waqas, 24, was shown as having been arrested in Ajmer on March 23, 2013, and accused of involvement in the bombings in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.
The Delhi Police had stated Waqas was trained in terrorist activities “at a training camp situated in the Waziristan Federally Administered Tribal Area”, and had learnt to prepare improvised explosive devices “based upon Hydrogen Peroxide (liquid form), Potassium Chloride and Ammonium Nitrate”.
Investigations and the questioning of Waqas by various agencies have now revealed Waqas was trained by the Pak Taliban before being sent to India, where he was expected to pass off as Indian on account of his family’s pre-Partition roots in Phagwara, Punjab.
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Waqas was allegedly instrumental in building the IEDs used in the July 13, 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai that killed 27, and in the February 21, 2013 twin blasts in Hyderabad that killed 17, sources said. These sources said he also had a hand in the failed serial bombings in Pune on August 1, 2012.
Waqas has told investigators he stockpiled 50 digital timers for bombs in an apartment in Mangalore, which was used as an IM base to prepare for the Hyderabad attack. Raids on the third-floor rented apartment at Zephyr Heights in Attavar region of Mangalore last September following the arrest of alleged IM operative Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi alias Tabrez, 26, who allegedly shared the flat with Waqas, had led to the discovery of a bomb laboratory.
Fifty digital watches, several of which were connected to wires that transformed them into bomb timers, five cell phones with wiring to enable use as timers in bombs, three electrical detonators, about 125 g of ammonium nitrate gel, fuel oil, and a pocket book on bomb circuitry were found in the flat.
Waqas has told investigators that he had created the stockpile after security agencies clamped down on sales of electronic circuit boards of the kind he used in the Mumbai bombs. Sources said Waqas bought large numbers of cheap digital watches after the Mangalore base was set up towards the end of 2012.
The sources said Waqas was originally picked up by security agencies at an airport in Bangladesh while he was attempting to leave for Pakistan on a fake passport, and was subsequently handed over to Indian authorities. “This dreaded terrorist, exported by Pakistan based ISI and its protégé called Indian Mujahidin, is wanted in a series of bombings carried out all over India,” the Delhi Police Special Cell said.
Waqas was initially drafted into terror by the Lashkar front Jamat-ud-Dawah, and underwent preliminary training at the Lashkar’s Naushera camp, before he was handed over to the Pak Taliban for advanced training, the police said in March.
“After receiving the training, Waqas was asked by Abdur Rehman of the Jaish-e-Mohammed to go to Karachi to meet Riyaz Bhatkal, the absconding chief of the IM. In Karachi, Waqas met Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, who asked to proceed to Kathmandu, Nepal with the direction to join other members of IM in carrying out terrorist strikes in India,” the police said.
According to police records, Waqas joined forces with the IM in India around September 2010.