Bengaluru, Dec 14: For long Indian agencies believed that the founder of the Indian Mujahideen, Riyaz Bhatkal lived in Sharjah. One evening when a group of officials from the Intelligence Bureau were working on some leads relating to the IM, an ID called menothing1 popped up. This was an ID that was created on the Nimbuzz messaging platform.
The year was 2012 and it was for the first time that an electronic trail had been found. Riyaz was chatting with Yasin Bhatkal who was at that time the leader of the outfit. The IB officials tracked down this ID to Pakistan. It was then that they realized that the founder of the IM had made a home for himself in the Defence Colony in Karachi, Pakistan.
A cozy home in Karachi:
Riyaz was an important player for the ISI. He was the one who ensured that a home grown outfit was born. The idea was to carry out a series of blasts by a home grown outfit so that it gave Pakistan the deniability factor.
When Riyaz fled India in 2007, he headed to Sharjah. He stayed there for a few years. However when his address was tracked, it was the ISI which lifted him out and transferred him to Pakistan. After being moved into Pakistan the ISI housed him at the Defence Housing Colony, residential area Phase VI in Karachi. He was moved into this address in November 2012. Riyaz and his brother Iqbal was asked to oversee the operations of the IM from Pakistan.
Riyaz however shuttled between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where he would raise funds and also meet with other operatives of the IM. He would coordinate with the likes of Fayyaz Kagzi and Abu Jundal. (Fayyaz Kagzi is a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative wanted in the 2010 German Bakery blasts and the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case. Abu Jundal is an Indian national, Islamic fundamentalist/terrorist belonging to Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is accused of being involved in 2008 Mumbai attacks.)
India has on several occasions asked Pakistan to hand over Riyaz and his brother Iqbal. Pakistan however denies their existence although there is concrete information about their presence. The IB says that not just Riyaz, but Pakistan has housed at least 20 IM operatives on its soil.