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NIA arrests Indian Mujahideen’s key operative from Delhi’s IGI airport

Abdul Wahid Siddibapa, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka, was held after his arrival from Dubai.

Written by Deeptimaan Tiwary, Johnson TA | New Delhi / Bengaluru | Updated: May 21, 2016 2:55:05 am
NIA, NIA arrests, Indian Mujahideen,Indira Gandhi International airport, National Investigating Agency (NIA),Abdul Wahid Siddibapa, india news Abdul Wahid Siddibapa, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka, was held after his arrival from Dubai.

The NIA Friday arrested Abdul Wahid Siddibappa, a suspected financier and logistics provider of Indian Mujahideen (IM), from Delhi airport. A special court sent him to NIA custody for seven days after the agency said he was required for interrogation.

While NIA has maintained that Abdul, a cousin of former IM chief Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal and a relative of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, was arrested upon arrival from Abu Dhabi, sources said he was deported by UAE authorities.

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Abdul had been detained by UAE authorities in January 2014, but it took India more than two years to get him deported. The UAE authorities had arrested and produced Abdul in a local court which delayed his deportation. At that time, India had failed to produce robust evidence against him even as Pakistan put pressure on UAE through diplomatic channels to stall his handover to India, sources said.

An Interpol red corner notice issued against Abdul says he is wanted for alleged involvement in the 2006 Mumbai serial blasts, 2008 Delhi blasts and 2010 Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts.

According to the dossier on Abdul with Indian agencies, the 32-year-old allegedly routed money sent by IM founders Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal using banking channels and Western Union ahead of the blasts. Abdul’s name features in an NIA case (RC 6/2012) which addresses a grand IM conspiracy “in association with the IM sleeper cells based in the country and abroad to commit terrorist acts’’ in India.

Sources said Abdul had been using the alias ‘Khan’ and his codename was also found in chats between Yasin and Riyaz. Yasin was arrested in August 2013 from the India-Nepal border along with Asadullah Akhtar and a list of UAE contacts was recovered from them.

Investigators found these contacts were part of a large group of men known to Riyaz from his hometown of Bhatkal. They were inducted into IM activities after a police crackdown in India in 2008-09 broke IM’s backbone and forced Riyaz, his brother Iqbal, and others to flee the country.

Riyaz, according to NIA, initially took UAE-based associates from Bhatkal like Abdul Khader Sultan Armar, his brother Shafi Armar, Hussain Farhan Mohammed, Salim Ishaqi and Afeef Jilani Mota to Pakistan in a bid to re-establish the IM. Some UAE-based operatives like Abdul and Noor were asked to stay back to collect and supply funds, the NIA says. “Some of them were earlier working in the UAE and travelled on Indian passports,’’ says the NIA in a chargesheet against the IM.

“Investigation further established the role and involvement of one Abdul Wahid Siddibapa @ Khan, also a close relation of the absconding accused Md. Riyaz (Riyaz Bhatkal), currently settled in the UAE, as the main link person in the transfer of funds to the accused person A-6 (Yasin Bhatkal) in Nepal, and to other IM operatives in India,’’ states the chargesheet.

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