Karela Fry

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What is the NIA doing with Yasin Bhatkal?

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Z News has a terse report:

A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal by four days.

Meanwhile, Asadullah Akhtar, one of the aides of the terror operative Bhatkal who was arrested along with the former a few days ago, was also granted to NIA transit remand to NIA for taking him to Hyderabad for Dilsukhnagar terror attack probe.

Clearly, NIA wants more out of Yasin Malik (aka Bhatkal). So it is a good time to look back at what it has been doing for the last couple of weeks.

On September 16 he was in Goa, reported NDTV:

Separate teams of National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited Goa yesterday along with Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal to probe his links in the state, police sources said.

The teams, which were in the state for a day, took Bhatkal to places like Anjuna beach, Mapusa, Panaji and Vasco, which he had reportedly visited in the past ten years.

“The NIA teams were here but did not share their intelligence inputs with the state police,” Goa police Deputy Inspector General OP Mishra said last night.

However, sources in the police department said the NIA teams were trying to ascertain whether Bhatkal had been recruiting gullible youths from Goa into his terror network.

On September 14, the Hindu reported:

In a highly covert operation, a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Saturday, brought Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal to Bihar’s Darbhanga district where he stayed and reportedly cultivated a local module.

The team led by the agency’s Deputy Inspector General and Superintendent of Police Vikas Vaibhav, in charge of the Bodh Gaya blast case, took Yasin to the place he had visited and stayed in, back in 2008, the police said.

“He [Yasin] was taken to the Jamalchak village. Basically they just wanted to verify his statement and the location where he said he was staying at. As per my information the NIA took him to just one place,” a police official told The Hindu.

On the same day, his arrested associate was taken to Hyderabad, according to DNA:

Terror suspect and Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal’s aide Asadullah Akhtar was on Saturday brought to Hyderabad by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on transit warrant for a probe into the February 21 bomb blasts in Hyderabad.

NIA officials took Akhtar alias Haddi to a few places at Bhadaurpura, where he along with some others allegedly resided and made the bombs, sources said.

IE seems to have talked to various sources in the NIA to put together a picture of a secretive organization:

Encryption of messages whether on e-mail or chats, dead dropping of e-mails and use of GPRS phones are among the methods being employed by Yasin and company to prevent detection by security agencies.

“Every small message among them is encrypted. The use of regular phones is almost non-existent. They use only GPRS phones. They are a small group but very tech savvy. State police forces are two decades behind in technology usage to track such covert operations,” security sources said.

Investigators are said to be in the process of deciphering some 30,000 encrypted messages between the arrested IM operatives and their associates.

Officials said that during his interrogation, Yasin has been saying that the IM is no longer linked to the LeT but is trying to report to al-Qaeda, but this may not be true. While Yasin has been talking, he is believed to be concealing key information.

With so much of the investigation in the public domain, the news about some associates of Bhatkal being alerted no longer comes as a surprise. Here is what ET had to say:

A senior government official, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to ET that the Intelligence Bureau wanted to keep Bhatkal’s arrest a secret for the first 24 hours and pointed out that even Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was not aware of the development till the news broke on television channels around 9:45 am on August 29. He was only later briefed by Home Secretary Anil Goswami and Intelligence Bureau chief Asif Ibrahim about the same.

However, the information of the arrest was leaked to the media and that golden opportunity was lost,” the government official said.

Investigators lost the chance to nab Indian Mujahedeen’s two main bombers Waqas and Tehseen Akhtar, thanks to an untimely leak of information of Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest on August 29 morning. TV news reports alerted the duo to escape from a hideout in Mangalore immediately.

Do ministers have to watch the news to find what the police is up to?

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