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Three alleged Indian Muajhideen (IM) operatives — Mohd Mahruf (21), Mohd Waqar Azhar (21) and Shaquib Ansari (25) — arrested along with IM chief and bomb maker Waqas from Rajasthan on Sunday, wanted to fight NATO forces in Afghanistan, an official familiar with their questioning has claimed.
The three were allegedly recruited through a social networking website by an IM ‘talent scout’, who later put them in touch with IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. The terror outfit wanted to exploit the engineering expertise of the new recruits and reach out to others like them, cops added.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Riyaz asked them to download a proxy server and create a fake identity for chatting. He then motivated them to join jihad with the promise that they would get to fight NATO forces in Afghanistan.
In August last year, arrested IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal had revealed that two IM operatives, Mohd Sajid and Mirza Shadab Baig, took part against NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Details from the questioning of the four arrested IM operatives revealed that Riyaz allegedly activated the Rajasthan module in January last year. Yasin, after his arrest, had claimed that though he did not know the details of the module, one Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu was handled by Riyaz. Investigators have now found that one of the engineering students, Mahruf, allegedly provided a hideout to Tahseen.
A Samastipur resident, Tahseen, who is now believed to be heading IM’s India operations, visited the Rajasthan members of the module and trained them to handle IEDs and arms. The group was awaiting instructions from Riyaz, who is also believed to have arranged for explosives to make IEDs. Cops claimed the man who supplied explosives to the module has been identified and a hunt is on to nab him.
The probe team said it was Riyaz who instructed Waqas to travel to Ajmer and look for a hideout and oversee preparations for a future attack. But Waqas was arrested from the railway station.
Investigators also did not rule out the possibility that the IM had plans to carry out a strike either in Ajmer or Jaipur. Yasin, after his arrest, had also disclosed the group may target foreign tourists in Pushkar.