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Pakistan bike-snatchers turned terrorists for IM’s ‘jihad lite’

The duo have identified Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal as their handler Daniyal, also codenamed Tausif.

Until two months back, they were ordinary bike-snatchers. Now, they are in an Indian jail in connection with terrorism charges. (PTI) Until two months back, they were ordinary bike-snatchers. Now, they are in an Indian jail in connection with terrorism charges. (PTI)

You have to go to India, Uttar Pradesh, via Nepal. There you have to target Indian forces. A local friend will help you. It will take you two hours. And then you return the same way you got there. You will get weapons there and you leave them behind after the work — instructions of Daniyal, later identified as Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal, to the two Pakistani terrorists nabbed in Gorakhpur on March 28.

Meet Abdul Waleed Rind and Fahim alias Owais from Manghopir area of Karachi — two soldiers of the new, low-cost jihad being waged against India from Pakistan. Until two months back, they were ordinary bike-snatchers. Now, they are in an Indian jail, disconnected from their handler Daniyal-bhai, whom they came to know more as loveroldy@nimbuzz.

The two have since been shown Riyaz’s photograph and confirmed him to be Daniyal, also codenamed Tausif.

Theirs is a story of two school dropouts who aspired to become jihadis, and borrowed money from friends to find their way to an Afghan Taliban training camp for a crash-course of sorts where they only learnt basic handling of an AK-47 and a pistol without actually firing one. For three years after that, they did odd jobs and snatched bikes until their gang leader Abdullah put them on to Daniyal — as recently as February 2014.

Daniyal just needed to get one of them acquainted with using the Internet on a cellphone so he could send instructions through apps such as Nimbuzz and deliver them to an attack site using his IM network, again cultivated through social media sites, in India. The plan had worked earlier as well. But this time, Indian agencies had a mole amid them and that meant Fahim and Waleed had little chance once they entered India.

Waleed had joined a madrasa in Manghopir, Bait-ul-Uloom, three years after dropping out of a government school. A fellow Iranian
student Umair was his first jihad tutor. They became friends and a year later, set off to the Af-Pak border to try and get some “training”.

Waleed even sold his Chinese-made mobile phone for Rs 1,000 to undertake this trip.

At Baramcha, they found bikers roaming about – one of them came and asked “training” and Umair responded “training Kazam”. The man returned with two more motorcycle riders to take them into the hills to a place with mud hutments.

Faheem’s story is similar.

He took to playing football for a local club Manghopir National after leaving school. Came to know Nayeem, who turned out to be his tutor and even helped raise Rs 2,500-3,000 for them to go to the Afghan border.

It was the same route Waleed would take a few months later via Quetta. They too met motorcyclists who took them to a training facility in Baramcha area.

The training routine for Fahim and Waleed, even though they went separately to different camps, was quite similar – a 15-21 day capsule with three days dedicated to assembling and disassembling the AK-47, three days to do the same with 9 mm pistols, two days on grenades and ways to throw them. The remaining days were used for physical training and endurance.

Fahim was quite frustrated by the crash course-like approach and complained to the camp head that he never got to actually fire a weapon. He was told for that he would have to buy ammunition. So Fahim paid Rs 600 for six rounds and fired them in the air.

Waleed could not complete his training because his father managed to trace him and pull him out. Both finally returned to Karachi and went on to take up odd jobs.

Eventually, they joined a gang of bike-snatchers formed by a man named Abdullah who traded in stolen motorcycles.

But Abdullah, it appears, was connected to terror outfits and knew Riyaz Bhatkal, whom he introduced as Daniyal to Fahim and Waleed. This happened after he had made certain the duo was willing to take up tasks in the name of jihad. According to Waleed, Abdullah told them Daniyal was from India and had left a flourishing business for the sake of jihad.

In mid-January, Abdullah asked the two for their identity documents to prepare a passport under instructions from “Daniyal-bhai”.

In the first week of February, the two met Daniyal for the first time at the Karachi passport office, where according to Waleed, he took them out of the queue, involved a known agent, had their photographs taken and documents verified. He then took the two and Abdullah to a small restaurant called Dawood in the back lane.

The first question he asked was whether the two knew English and if they had used the Internet. Fahim had no such exposure while Waleed said he used Facebook. He then passed on a chit with Nimbuzz written on it and asked Waleed to familiarise himself with it. That evening, Waleed borrowed a mobile phone from an electrician friend and created his id – bebrek@nimbuzz.

A few days later, they met Daniyal again who gave his id loveroldy@nimbuzz and along with that a Nokia E-71 handset with relevant apps loaded. That became the mode of communication from then on, even though phones and phone numbers changed.

It was at their third meeting the same month that Daniyal brought along Aftab, now identified as Mohsin Chaudhary – wanted in the German bakery blast case. This was also the meeting where the plan and place of attack was revealed. Assuring them that his local contacts would be helpful, Daniyal gave them 2,000 Pakistani rupees each.

The passports arrived in the first week of March after which Abdullah took them shopping, spent close to Rs 20,000 buying bags, clothes, shoes and other accessories. On March 7, they were informed they had to board a plane for Oman on March 9 and from there to Kathmandu where they should obtain a visa on arrival.

Just before the flight, Daniyal told them about Aslam, whom they would have to call on reaching Kathmandu and leave their Pakistani passports with him. He told them Aslam would also arrange for their passage to India. They were also instructed to use codes during chats on Nimbuzz – laptop for AK-47 and notepad for 9 mm pistols.

However, the duo could not get past Karachi immigration because the official asked for a hotel booking in Nepal. Daniyal apparently told them he would set it up the next time.

On March 12, the two encountered the same official at the immigration counter. The official, according to Waleed, even remembered them. This time, however, he took their passports, made some copies and let them pass.

All went according to plan in Kathmandu. Aslam was waiting with a pre-activated Nepalese SIM card-cum-Internet package. Waleed loaded this and was back in touch with Daniyal. They also handed over their passports in a sealed cover along with $1,000 Daniyal had sent for Aslam. Aslam introduced them to Anees who would take them across the border.

They stayed in a hotel in Thamel and left with Anees the next morning on a bus for Sunauli near Gorakhpur. They got off before the border and were joined by Raju who took them by rickshaws and a jeep, across and to a two-storey building where they stayed that night.

But their identities were already known and within days they were traced and nabbed at the Gorakhpur railway station.

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