The Indian Express traces how Yasin Bhatkal,a class X dropout from a coastal Karnataka town,went on to become one of Indias most wanted and,until Thursday,elusive terrorists.
As security dossiers go,this one looks like it was put together a few years ago by a bored intelligence officer in a nondescript back office somewhere in Delhi. The document,which is in a table format,lists the name of the fugitive as Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa alias Ahamed alias Yaseer. It says he was born on January 15,1983,studied up to Class X and also Islamic issues,is 5 ft 6,fair,clean-shaven,wears pant shirt and moves with a laptop.
He is wanted for bomb blasts in Gujarat,Bangalore and Hyderabad. His associates are Riyaz,Iqbal,Sultan,Muyeed and Shabbir. He speaks Urdu,Kannada and Nawayati,a local dialect. He had a passport issued in Bangalore which was valid until June 18,2013. Present place of stay: Unknown. Bhatkal arrest: A wife who keeps to herself,a factory no one approaches
Police officers around the country,however,say they should not be faulted if they call this dossier a gross understatement. Siddibapa,who is more famous as Yasin Bhatkal,is for them the co-founder and operational commander of the Indian Mujahideen,its official bomb-maker,trained bomb expert and the mastermind of nearly a dozen bomb blasts across the country who has been named in almost every terror attack since 2007.
In terms of his importance on the list of Indias most wanted terrorists,he was up there with the most dreaded. And until Thursday,the most elusive.
Yasins journey into the world of terror is said to have started in the early years of the last decade. He had joined the Jamiya Islamiya in Bhatkal,his hometown in coastal Karnataka,and was allegedly attracted to jehadi ideology since his school days.
He,along with brothers Riyaz and Iqbal the three of who would go on to found the IM tried to attract Muslim youth towards their ideology before his family discovered his leanings and packed him him to Dubai in November 2005. His life in Dubai is a bit of a blur. Intelligence agencies claim he escaped from Dubai and was seen with al-Qaeda supporters in Abu Dhabi. They say he managed to return to India in 2007 and rejoined Riyaz and Iqbal in Mangalore and was trained in making nitrate bombs. His family claims he disappeared from Dubai in January 2007 and could not be traced.
Yasins progress from then until he became one of Indias most wanted terrorists is a story of travelling around the country to recruit youths and set up terror modules,procuring materials for bombs,making,supplying and planting them,taking refuge in remote areas,evading security agencies,even getting arrested once and being freed.
The attacks he allegedly planned and the bombs he made and planted during these years killed more than 250 people and maimed many more in Gujarat,Hyderabad,Jaipur,Delhi,Bangalore,Mumbai and continued…