The elusive commanderhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/the-elusive-commander/

The elusive commander

At Zarar Manzil in Bhatkal,Karnataka,no one can pinpoint the day they had seen Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa last.

At Zarar Manzil in Bhatkal,Karnataka,no one can pinpoint the day they had seen Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa last. His family has been saying the last time was in Dubai,when he walked out of his father’s readymade garments business after a “personal tiff” and unresolved “differences in opinion”.

His mother Rehana and uncles have said the same to security agencies from at least nine states.

The family has lost Ahmed but over the years,Indian Mujahideen gained a commander in him. He resurfaced as Yasin Bhatkal with several aliases,the recent ones being ‘Shahrukh’ and ‘Imran’. His name first cropped up in 2008 after the arrest of IM suspects from Pune and Mangalore,with his “significant status” in IM being detailed by Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chaudhary,brother of wanted IM operative Mohsin Chaudhary.

Today,he is a wanted in all IM blasts,in the role of conspirator,logistics head and key recruiter. But what could possibly make him remain in the country and not control operations from abroad is his knack of having adapted to different schools of bombmaking and his network of indoctrinated informers who help him remain elusive. Investigators believe he flees a site successfully within minutes of the blast.

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According to officials,Bhatkal has always been at the “target” site days before the blast-personally overseeing operations and providing support to planters. In almost all interrogations-the profile that has emerged of Bhatkal is a man who could now be in his 30s,fiercely guards his information network,and does not trust anyone.

Security agencies also look at him as the only IM member with a “tech background,Dubai exposure and trained in Pakistan”.

Various accounts establish he has played logistics for explosives used in the September 2008 blast in Delhi as well as bombs used in Chinnaswamy Stadium,Bangalore and the ones in Gujarat in 2008. His scanned image is the one believed to have been captured at the German Bakery blast site of February 2010. Yasin himself is believed to have assembled many of the bombs. In the 13/7 serial blasts,the ATS claims he personally gave the explosives and detonators to Nadeem,who was arrested this month,to be delivered in Mumbai. He was also believed to have been present in the city in July last year to “commission the bombs” for 13/7.