SIMI activist Farkan Jamal,arrested by a Gujarat Police team at Chhapra in Bihar on Saturday,is a prized catch,who can not only give police important leads in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case but also about SIMIs ongoing activities across the country.
Jamal,said police and Intelligence sources,used to give shelter to his close aide from Bihar,Haseeb Raza,arrested by the Gujarat Police last week,and a key SIMI man from Azamgarh,Tauqeer.
Jamal,working as a petty contractor,was arrested by the Gujarat crime branch from Bhagwan Bazar area of Chhapra from where he had been operating since SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) was banned. He,along with Haseeb,had been involved in several key SIMI operations in Ahmedabad,Delhi,Mumbai and other cities.
According to the police,he is one of the founder members of SIMI and had been acting from behind the scene letting Raza call the shots. Sources said Raza,a fellow resident of Phulwari Sharif,Patna,had joined SIMI under Jamals influence. Raza had shifted base to Gujarat after the ban on SIMI. He was reportedly looking for youths to send them for terror training in Pakistan.
Chhapra Superintendent of Police A K Satyarthi told The Indian Express: It was Raza who revealed Jamals involvement in the Ahmedabad blasts case. Raza,who confessed to his involvement in the case,told the police that Jamal used to provide him shelter.
Raza was earlier arrested in 2002 in connection with the Godhra carnage. But he was released for want of evidence. He was subsequently arrested from a train by the West Bengal Police for conspiring to blow up the Howrah Bridge.
An Intelligence source added that Jamal had been looking after planning,induction and training for the banned outfit.
Soon after the NDA government banned SIMI and sealed its Exhibition Road office in Patna,Jamal along with his hundreds of supporters had defied the Patna police in 2001 by holding a public meeting in the city. In subsequent years,he concentrated on Kisanganj and other Seemanchal districts of Purnea and Araria.
A senior Ahmedabad Crime Branch Officer said: The weapons (a pistol and air gun) recovered from Raza were given by Jamal. Raza had planned a terror attack in Gujarat. A week before his arrest,he had contacted Jamal for weapons.
(With inputs from Ahmedabad)