A suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Syed Maqbool, who had been on the radar of intelligence agencies in connection with the Aug 1 Pune blast, was picked up in Hyderabad Thursday, underlining yet again the city’s links to terrorist activities in other states.
Maqbool, who goes by the alias Jaber, is said to have been a close associate of the slain Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Azam Ghori who was shot dead in an encounter in Karimnagar in 2000.
Top police sources disclosed to Express that a posse from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrived in the city Thursday and headed straight to Shaheen Nagar near Pahadishareef to take Maqbool into custody. He had been living there with his wife.
Sources said Maqbool’s name was spilled to the ATS by some of the other accused in the Pune blast case. A senior police official said Maqbool was an accused in the murder of Mahaveer Prasad, owner of Mahalakshmi Jewellers, in 2000. Arrested by the Afzalgunj police, he stood trial as accused no. 2 and was convicted. He was paroled in 2004 after which he appeared to be inactive, sources said.
A senior police official said that apart from the jeweller’s murder, Maqbool had no cases against him. ‘’He had been lying low and there was no indication of his involvement in any anti-national activity in Hyderabad. But we are waiting to hear more on Maqbool from the Maharashtra ATS,’’ said the officer. A native of Dharmabad in Nanded district of Maharashtra, the 32-year-old man was associated with a group called the Indian Muslim Mohammedi Mujahideen (IMMM), which was started by Azam Ghori at the behest of LeT.
As regards his role in the Pune terror strike, sources said Maqbool was involved in the making of the improvised explosive device (IED) that was used in the blast. He was allegedly trained in explosives during his days in the IMMM. Maqbool is the fifth suspect to be arrest in the Pune blast case.
Earlier this month, the Delhi police said they have solved the case and claimed to have averted terror strikes in Delhi and Bodh Gaya with the arrest of three suspected IM operatives. The module had allegedly planned to hit Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bodh Gaya. “Maqbool taught the other accused how to make IEDs at the farmhouse of one Asad Khan in Aurangabad, a recruiter for IM,’’ a source said.
Of three suspected IM operatives arrested by the Delhi Police, Asad Khan (33), a recruiter, motivator and ideologue of IM, and Imran Khan (31) were picked up on Sept.26 from a hideout in Pul Prehladpur in south Delhi; and Syed Firoze (38) was nabbed from Nizamuddin railway station five days later.