India Nabs Top Terrorism Suspect
India says it has nabbed the co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist organization that has been blamed for attacks throughout the country.
NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from New Delhi that Yasin Bhatkal was arrested near India's border with Nepal. He's wanted in connection with several attacks, including a 2010 bombing at a bakery that killed 17 people in the western Indian city of Pune.
Julie says, "Bhatkal has been on the run for years, allegedly identifying new recruits for the Indian Mujahideen. Both India and the United States have declared it a terrorist organization. Authorities suspect the group in the recent bombings in Gaya, an important spiritual center for Buddhism. Two weeks ago, Indian authorities captured a senior bomb-maker for the banned Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba."
Indian media describe the arrest of Bhatkal as a major breakthrough in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Zee News reports:
"Bhatkal, whose real name is Ahmed Siddibappa, was one of the most wanted men in India as he is believed to be the backbone of the IM network. Operating under various aliases — Mohammad Zarrar, Ahmed, Imran, Asif and Shahrukh — Bhatkal was the only IM founder member who was operating in the country."
Zee says another Indian Mujahideen leader, Asadullah Akhtar, was arrested along with Bhatkal.
The Times of India writes:
"Though Yasin was earlier arrested by the West Bengal police in 2008, he managed to get bail due to a goof by the police officers who had apprehended him. The officers were unaware of his terror background."
The newspaper says Bhatkal has "managed to give the intelligence and law enforcement agencies the slip many [times], by employing carefully-chosen communication methods."