He is known as “India’s bin Laden”, provoking similar consternation among security agencies, being the mastermind of the 2008 Gujarat serial blasts and a key architect of the terrorist infrastructure in the country.
Finally, one of India’s mostwanted, Abdul Subhan Qureshi, has landed in the Delhi Police net. Qureshi, alias Tauqeer, allegedly came back to the country to revive sleeper cells of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Indian Mujahideen (IM), officials said on Monday.
An engineer by profession, he is also an expert in making explosives like IEDs and is the point person to radicalise youths and facilitating training for them. Sources say he was indoctrinating unemployed Muslim youths and was filling the void left by the fall of top Indian Mujahideen leaders.
He was allegedly plotting a revival of the weak and scattered IM network and was particularly targeting the sleeper cells in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka.
After giving Indian security agencies the slip following the Gujarat serial blasts, he fled to Nepal and worked as an English teacher. In 2015, he went to Saudi Arabia and worked as a salesman in various stores based on a forged passport.
While in Saudi Arabia, he also had meetings with many SIMI and IM sympathisers. Intelligence Bureau sources told Mail Today that Tauqeer was a major fundraiser in Saudi Arabia.
“More than 50 different charitable organisations that are set up in various parts of the country, whose primary job is to raise money for funding terror in India, are the major sponsors,” the sources added.
Officials confirmed that there are instances where the terror funds were received by charitable organisations from places such as Muscat and Dubai.
“However, the money raised from these places is normally donations from affluent families, who are emotionally blackmailed to sponsor,” the source said.
There are a large number of people who share the ideology of terror groups and feel that it is their responsibility to support their people in such a ‘war’. Tauqeer, used to identify such people and radicalise them by showing them videos, delivering passionate speeches on issues such as Kashmir, Babri Masjid and Godhra, whipping up emotions so that they join the outfit or back them with funds.
Through his established contacts, Tauqeer procured logistics for his visits to India. He had made at least three trips that have been traced by the agencies recently.
“On Friday, when he came to Delhi to meet one of his old SIMI sympathisers, he was nabbed after an encounter with the team at Ghazipur,” said PS Kushwah, DCP of Delhi Police’s special cell.
Sources say Tauqeer has good command over English, deep knowledge of local as well as international issues pertaining to Muslims and a gift of gab.
“He had received sound technological knowledge and had passed Microsoft Certified Software Engineering (MCSC), besides pursuing a course on industrial electronics from Bharatiya Vidhyapeeth in Mumbai, and hardware networking,” Kushwah added.
Tauqeer was absconding since his associate Safdar Nagori was arrested by Indore Police just a few months ahead of the serial blasts in Gujarat in July 2008.
“As soon as the role of SIMI and Indian Mujahideen was established, he left Gujarat and fled to Ranchi in Jharkhand, where he took shelter at the residence of a member of the SIMI cadre. From Ranchi he went to Chhapra and onward to Raxaul on the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar. He crossed over to Nepal and reached Birat Nagar where he met one Nizam Khan, a SIMI sympathiser, who ran an NGO,” Kushwah said.
With Nizam Khan’s help he started to live in Batta, Birat Nagar, and landed a teaching job at a Christian boarding school. He stayed there from October 2008 to January 2009 and then moved to Gorkha.
“During his stay in Nepal he also managed to procure fake local civilian ID through Nizam Khan and remained in Nepal till 2015. During this period, he again came in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal who prevailed upon him to move to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia so that he could raise funds and help revive IM in India,” Kushwah said.
Tauqeer is also a suspect in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts. During the investigation, the links to Saudi Arabia became extremely clear when the police tracked a hawala transaction of $10,000 (about Rs 6,38,000) which was used to carry out the July 11, 2006 serial train blasts in Mumbai that killed 209 people.