New Delhi, Sept. 2: Officials of the National Investigation Agency will soon travel to Bengal to track down accomplices of arrested Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, suspected to have been operating from there.
“During interrogation he told us he had several associates in Bengal. Although he is yet to divulge their names, we have got some idea about their locations in the state. Our officials are already in touch with Bengal police and will travel there soon,” a senior NIA official said.
According to him, many operatives of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India from Bengal, who had gone underground after the organisation was banned in 2003, worked for the Indian Mujahideen along with its Calcutta-born co-founder Amir Reza Khan.
The official added that Bhatkal formed the Indian Mujahideen with Khan, an accused in the 2002 American Center attack, and a few others in 2004. Khan is said to be in Pakistan and security agencies believe he also has strong networks in Bengal.
The counter-terror agency believes the Indian Mujahideen might start regrouping after the recent setbacks following the arrest of Bhatkal, its operational head.
“The terror outfit has sleeper cells in several states across the country and we have to track them down to dismantle the terror network. Our team is already in Bihar and raids are being conducted to nab Bhatkal’s associates,” said the official.
Bhatkal was arrested last week from the Nepal border near Raxaul, 160km from Patna, in an operation plotted with the help of central security agencies.
The NIA is also probing the suspected role of the Indian Mujahideen in the extortion calls made to four Calcutta businessmen in February 2010.
“We have got the funding route of the terror outfit after tracking those calls. There are still some active members of the outfit holed up in Bengal and we have to nab them to understand their network with members in other states,” the official added.
Calcutta police, which initially probed the matter, said the caller — identified as Khurram Khaiyam — was an aide of Khan, who grew up in Beniapukur and has a strong network in Bengal.
The high-profile case was later handed over to the NIA after Calcutta police failed to make any breakthrough.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today said India’s most-wanted terrorists, including Dawood Ibrahim, would be brought back to face the law.
“We will bring them one by one. Just wait and see…” Shinde told the media. The fugitive don is on a most-wanted list India had handed over to Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks.