Bengaluru cops on trail of terror suspects’ ‘guru’

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With assassination plots hatched by terror modules being cracked in Karnataka, police are now on the lookout for one Bengalurean who supervised all the modules.

Police say the mastermind of the modules, Zakeer alias Ustad, a native of Bengaluru North, apparently was the direct link to the handler of the modules in Saudi Arabia.

According to sources, there are still other modules in existence as Zakeer was in charge of many of them. Interrogations have revealed that Zakeer is generally called ‘Guru’ who, with the help of the handler in Saudi Arabia, got all the support needed to execute the plots.

The interrogation revealed that while Abdul Hakeem and Dr Zafar Iqbal visited Pakistan through Iran, they too used to take directions from Zakeer regarding the assassination plots. The city police have now formed teams to track him down.

The police have found that even Mohammad Akram alias Khalid, who was arrested on Saturday, had met Zakeer in Saudi Arabia.

“Zakeer hails from J.C. Nagar area in Bengaluru and he apparently got Akram back to Bengaluru and made arrangements for his stay along with Shoaib in J.C. Nagar. The plot was systematically planned, but failed during the execution stage,’’ an official said.

According to investigating officials, Zakeer had prepared a team of youths on the instructions of the Saudi handler and used Shoaib as the leader of one of the modules to eliminate the two journalists. On other hand, Akram was to target a pro-Hindu leader from Hubli, sources said.

The investigation so far has revealed that Akram too was given training on attacking a single individual with an intention to assassinate the leader in Hubli.

The accused arrested in Hubli used to trail the targets and pass on information on targets’ daily routines as well. The executing team, which included Shoaib, Abdul Hakeem and Akram, sketched the plan based on the information being fed regularly.A senior police official said that it was still not known if Akram and Zakeer had any previous involvement in criminal activities.

Bigger assignments were planned for arrested lot

The police may have arrested 13 people who are suspected to be part of a terror module, and even more arrests are expected to follow. However, the presence of ‘targeted modules’ operating under the bigger terror network is expected to pose more trouble for the investigating agencies.

Sources in the police say the challenge before the investigating agencies is identifying the different modules.

“In Bengaluru’s history, this could be one of the biggest terror busts, identified and nipped in time. However, the problem now is that mostly the modules operate exclusively and in most cases they are not aware of other modules and their targets. Hence, the information from the interrogations is going to be limited and will not lead to any bigger fish,” said a senior police official.

Police say that according to their inquiries the 13 people arrested were part of a terror module whose target was right-wing fundamentalist politicians, journalists and leaders of Hindu organisations in the State.

However, the police say that from interrogating the suspects they believe that these targets were mere ‘shooting practice’ for these youths, who were promised bigger assignments if this one was successful. The police say Shohib Ahmed Mirja alias Chotu was trained in Pakistan and after returning to India, he trained others in basic arms and intelligence gathering etc.

Like the one busted, several other clusters could be operating. Security experts term the present ‘targeted module’ as a terror franchise that has strong ideological links to Lashkar-e-Taiba and HuJI but operates on its own and has connections with a few key leaders.

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