Suspected terrorist nabbed, police say plans to revive IM nipped in bud

Suspected terrorist nabbed, police say plans to revive IM nipped in bud

A suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorist, who managed to flee during the Batla House encounter in Delhi ten years ago, was arrested from Indo-Nepal border, police said on Wednesday.

Ariz Khan alias Junaid, who carries a reward of Rs 15 lakh, is suspected to have been involved in serial blasts in Delhi, Jaipur and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and was closely associated with Bhatkal brothers -- Yasin and Iqbal -- who co-founded the Indian Mujahideen. Delhi Police claimed at least 165 people were killed and 535 injured in blasts in which Junaid was suspected to be involved.

Junaid, an "expert bomb-maker", was arrested on Tuesday from the Indian side of Nepal border in Uttarakhand when he came to meet one of his associates, a senior police official said. He was staying in Nepal after he fled the Batla House encounter site in Delhi and reached Nepal a month later. He later went to Saudi Arabia from where he returned to Nepal in 2017.

The official claimed Junaid, who took Nepali citizenship using fake documents and worked in an English medium school there, had procured explosives from Karnataka's Udupi with the help of Bhatkal brothers, for use in Jaipur and Delhi serial blasts in 2008.

"He was trying to revive Indian Mujahideen and SIMI. We have managed to nip in the bud efforts to revive these terrorist organisations," he said.

The NIA has taken over the cases involving IM operatives. It filed an FIR against Junaid and 11 others, including the Bhatkal brothers, in September 2012. According to the charge sheet filed by NIA, Junaid is one of the "principal conspirators and executioners" of various "heinous terrorist acts in different parts of India along with Bhatkal brothers, Amir Reza Khan, Tahsin Akthar and Azadullah Akthar.

Techie to bomb-maker

Junaid, who hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, had managed to escape from Batla House in south Delhi when the Special Cell sleuths surrounded them in their flat, while Atif Ameen, the head of Azamgarh module of the IM, was killed along with another operative, six days after the Delhi serial blasts in 2008. Two others were arrested from the spot. Ameen had "radicalised" Junaid along with 17 others who formed the module.

The 32-year-old's arrest by Delhi Police's Special Cell comes three weeks after the elite anti-terror force apprehended another suspected IM operative Abdul Subhan Qureshi (46), a software engineer-turned-bomb-maker, from east Delhi after a brief gunbattle.

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