Following the recent arrest of 18 youths for alleged terror links,the Bangalore police are now looking for a man identified as Zakir alias Ustad,who is reported to be a key link between the suspects and their alleged handlers in Saudi Arabia.
Zakir,who is from Karnataka,is alleged to have motivated several of the youths arrested from Karnataka,Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to take up the path of jehad and provided contacts and links for their cause.
Sources involved in the investigation said Zakir would take orders from people based abroad and relay them to the youths. It seems like only a few in the arrested group had direct interaction with the handlers abroad, said a source.
According to a statement of one of those arrested,Abdul Hakeem Jamadar,25,that has been incorporated in the detailed first information report filed by the Bangalore police,Zakir befriended some of the youths at a local mosque and gained their confidence by highlighting the problems and suffering of Muslims.
The FIR account incorporated by the police said it was Zakir who motivated the youths to target a columnist in a right wing newspaper.
Police sources said finding concrete evidence in the case to establish a full-fledged criminal conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks would be difficult until key missing elements are traced. There are instances of physical meetings held and details of electronic communications between the members of the group. We are working on establishing aspects like the purpose of travel abroad by some of them, the sources said.
In their FIR,the police have also provided an account of how some of the youths were nabbed while they were allegedly on their way to attack a newspaper columnist.
Meanwhile,members of civil rights groups like the Association for Protection of Civil Liberties (APCL) have pointed out discrepancies in the timing of the arrests as shown by the police and as recorded by the families.
While the police have cited the time of arrests of the first batch of six youths in Bangalore on August 29 as 3.30 pm,APCL members have said they lodged a complaint with the police on the morning of August 29 of five of the youths being picked up by unknown persons from their homes in the J C Nagar area of the city.