Delhi Police Thursday claimed to have thwarted a major terror attack here during the upcoming festive season with the arrest of three suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives. A huge cache of explosives has also been recovered.
"Two of the IM operatives Asad Khan, 33, and Imran Khan, 31, were arrested from south Delhi's Pul Prahladpur on Sep 26, the day they came to Delhi from Rurki, a town located in Punjab province of Pakistan. The third IM operative Sayed Firoz alias Hamza, 38, was arrested on Oct 1 from Nizamuddin Railway Station," said Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
Around five kg of improvised explosive devices, 10 detonators and some incriminating materials were recovered from them, he said.
Asad - a computer expert inclined towards jehad - was the recruiter, motivator and ideologue of this IM module which received Rs.3 lakh from their mentors based abroad through hawala, he said.
The three were being instructed by IM chief Yasin Bhatkal and his brother Riyaz, apparently operating from across the border, the police chief said.
Neeraj Kumar claimed that the trio was also involved in the Aug 1 Pune serial blasts.
"They had also planned to attack the Bodhgaya Temple in Bihar... We have informed Bihar Police and asked them to step up security in the temple premises," he said.
During the interrogation of Abu Jundal, the arrested handler of Pakistani terrorists involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack, it came to light that terror organisations based overseas were planning to strike in major Indian cities.
Investigations revealed that Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Fayyaz Ahmed Qagzi, a resident of Beed in Maharashtra and presently based in west Asian countries, was co-ordinating with Bhatkal brothers to set up a base in Delhi and carry out a blast.
"Qagzi was the main man who brought the trio together," said Neeraj Kumar.
Asad and Imran told interrogators that they had come to Delhi on the direction of Bhatkal brothers and Qagzi.
"They were on continuous move from one place to another before approaching Delhi. They were received by 'Raju Bhai, 40,', who had made arrangements for their stay by hiring a house in Pul Prahladpur. They met Raju first at Nehru Place," said Neeraj Kumar.
Police are yet to identify Raju Bhai, believed to be the main handler of the terror suspects allegedly planning to strike in Delhi.
On the basis of the information provided by the arrested IM members, sketches of Raju Bhai, who speaks Urdu-Hindi in a north Indian accent, and two other operatives involved in their module have been prepared and circulated, police said.
The terrorists also disclosed their involvement in six serial blasts that took place in Pune this year.
"Asad, a B.Com degree holder, indoctrinated Imran and came in contact with Quagzi in August 2009 through telephone and email. Asad, Imran and Feroz had gone to Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions and had met Qagzi there. They had discussed about jehad to carry out terror strike in India," said the police chief.
In January, Qagzi introduced Asad to Bhatkal brothers -- who wanted to avenge the death of Qateel Siddique, a militant of IM killed June 8, in Yerwada jail in Maharashtra.
Initially, the plan was to plant a bomb in Yerwada jail or in the premises of the Pune court. But because of the high security at both the places the plan was cancelled, the police chief said.
"Later, they were asked to kill the family members of Sharad Mohol and Ashok Bhalerao, the jail inmates responsible for killing Siddique. This plan was also given up due to identity problem of the family of Mohol and Bhalerao," said Neeraj Kumar.
Finally, the Bhatkal brothers decided to use the operatives to carry out blasts either at Pune or in Mumbai.
"In the second fortnight of July, Feroz took a flat in Pune and was joined by two other IM operatives, whose names can not be revealed due to investigation purpose. They went to Mumbai and recced places to plant explosives, but the Bhatkal brothers changed their plan and told them to strike in Pune," said Neeraj Kumar.
He said that the IM members received their funds through hawala transactions. "This module received Rs.3 lakh from their mentors based abroad through hawala."