Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, Indian Mujahideen's chief of Indian Operations, has revealed during his interrogation that tourists were on their target and for this they had even done reconnaissance of major tourist hotspots like Agra, Jodhpur and Bharatpur, police sources said today.
"Monu has told us that they had recceed Agra (UP), Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Gopalgarh (all in Rajasthan)," said a senior police official.
Although he did not go to Taj Mahal but they surveyed neighbouring areas which have heavy tourist presence, he said.
23-year-old Monu, who was born in Darbhanga, Bihar was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police from Indo-Nepal border from Kakarvitta area in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. He was acting as the chief of IM's India operations after the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal. He was wanted for a series of terrorist strikes spread over various states.
Another revelation done by Monu, which investigators term "disturbing" is that he claims that the blasts in Patna at Narendra Modi's rally in October last year where "essentially" carried out by Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and that IM had no direct connection in it.
"This is disturbing as SIMI has earlier not carried out a direct terror strike," the official said.
However, investigators are taking Monu's claim with a pinch of salt.
"He said that the Patna serial blasts were essentially a SIMI work. He was in contact with them but was not involved in the bombings. However, we don't agree with him and we are investigating how much was he involved," the official said.
The reason why police don't take his claim on face value is because he was the key link between IM and other splinter terror outfits which have emerged from the umbrella of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
"After carrying out the Mumbai serial blasts at Opera House and Zaveri Bazar on July 12, 2011, he fled to Darbhanga where he met Haider, commonly known to intelligence agencies as "Black Beauty" - a key member of SIMI's Ranchi module.
"He met him twice, first in Darbhanga and then in Patna. He later went along with Haider and stayed with him at a rented accommodation in Ranchi," the official said.
During Monu's interrogation, it has also emerged that it was he who had given Rs one lakh and a mobile phone to Zahida, the wife of Yasin Bhatkal at her Shaheen Bagh residence in Delhi in August last year on the behest of Riyaz Bhatkal, IM's founder member who is currently based in Pakistan.
"He collected Rs 1.30 lakh from Mumbai which Riyaz had sent him through Hawala. Out of this, one lakh he gave to Zahida along with a mobile phone. It was through phone calls made via this mobile to Yasin Bhatkal which revealed his whereabouts in Nepal and he was arrested a couple of days later on August 29," the official said.
The handset was bought by Mahruf, the engineering student from Jaipur while the SIM was procured by Shaquib, a computer expert of Jodhpur, both of them, along with Waqar, members of IM's Rajasthan module were arrested by Special Cell on Sunday after the arrest of Zia Ur Rehman alias Waqas, another key IM man from Ajmer on Saturday.
Monu told his interrogators that he did his primary education from Dharbhanga and went to Mumbai for higher education and stayed there at his aunt's place.
"He passed 12th in 2008 from CBSE Board and returned to Darbhanga where he took admission in a diploma course in civil engineering at Maulana Azad Urdu University. But he was interested in Jihad. He was introduced to Yasin Bhatkal by Gayur Ahmad Jamali in February-March 2010 here," the official said.
Bhatkal introduced himself as a Unani doctor and gave him books to read.
"He started to indoctrinate him by saying that injustice is happening to their community. He told him about Batla House encounter in which his friends Atif and Sajid died. Bhatkal also told him that how he had carried out blasts in Gujarat. Monu was just 19-year-old then," the official said.
Monu's first assignment was in the first week of September in 2010 when Yasin instructed him to take one Adil to Nepal and receive Waqas who had reached Kathmandu from Pakistan along with Asadullah Akhtar (arrested with Yasin Bhatkal).
IM had then carried out the Jama Masjid attacks on September 19, 2010.
"Monu says that after the attack was not as successful as they expected it to be, Qateel Siddiqui and Yasin Bhatkal fought among themselves. He claims he was not involved in this attack but he, along with Yasin, Akhtar and Waqas, was all involved in the Mumbai serial blasts carried out at Opera House and Zaveri Bazar on July 12, 2011," the official said.
It was after this that he came in contact with Haider, alias Black Beauty, and stayed with him in Ranchi. After this, Monu fled to Nepal where he stayed with Yasin Bhatkal. In September 2012, he came back to Ranchi.