[Times of India] The prospect of terror organisations getting their hands on a nuclear device has long concerned both security agencies and thriller writers. Now, it seems Indian Mujahideen India chief Ahmad Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal too was thinking along similar lines. Bhatkal recently told interrogators that he was planning to set off a nuclear bomb in Surat, according to sources.
Bhatkal was arrested on August 27 in Pokhra, Nepal and has been constantly questioned by the NIA, Intelligence Bureau and police of several states. TOI has accessed the interrogation report.
Bhatkal told the interrogators that he had asked his Pakistan-based boss, Riyaz Bhatkal, over phone whether the latter could arrange a small “nuclear bomb”. According to him, Riyaz responded, “Anything can be arranged in Pakistan”.
“Riyaz told me that attacks can be done with nuclear bombs. I requested him to look for one nuclear bomb for Surat,” Yasin told the officials.
“Riyaz told me Muslims would also die in that (nuclear bomb blast), to which I said that we would paste posters in mosques asking every Muslim to quietly evacuate their families from the city,” Yasin said, according to the report.
However, the plan could not be initiated since Yasin was tracked by the IB and arrested in August.
Surat has always been on Yasin’s radar and he had also played an important role in preparing 27 bombs along with Atif Ameen in 2008 when serial blasts took place in Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.
Yasin himself was the bomb expert of Indian Mujahideen and the outfit’s bomb-making capabilities have been affected after his arrest, say intelligence officials.
The IM leader has also given details of army level training of IM cadres and other terrorists in Pakistan, which shows that advanced training is given to terrorists with the help of Pakistan. Elaborating on training schedule for IM members in Pakistan, Yasin said, “Training included morning PT, weapon handling and explosive/IED training, pistols to revolvers, AK-47 etc. Indian weapons like LMG, SLR and sniper rifles and so forth”.
Yasin further stated that “we were also exposed to handling of explosives like PE3A (black colour explosive), C4, C3, TNT, etc. Besides this, we were also exposed to fabrication of IEDs with the help of ammonium nitrate, hydrogen peroxide, gelatin stick and so forth. This training schedule was for 50 days”.
For all the plans and active operations, Yasin remained in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal. Riyaz, according to sources, had sent Yasin Rs 17 lakh in 2013 out of which his personal expenses every month were Rs 25,000.
A senior intelligence official said, “We have been coming across different kinds of IEDs over the years. The reason is that terrorists are undergoing all kind of advanced army level training in Pakistan with the help of ISI. And if terror outfits have access to nuclear bombs, then it is very dangerous for us (India)”.