New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Fasih Mahmood, a member of terror group Indian Mujahideen and suspected to have been involved in a conspiracy to set off bomb blasts in Bangalore and Delhi, was Monday arrested by Delhi Police soon after his deportation from Saudi Arabia. Home Secretary R.K. Singh described the arrest as a "very important catch".
Mahmood, 35, an engineer from Bihar, was arrested on arrival at Delhi airport, police said.
He is alleged to have been involved in the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bangalore and an explosion in Delhi, both in 2010. Both Delhi and Karnataka Police were hunting for him to stand trial.
The accused, employed in Saudi Arabia, was picked up by Saudi authorities from Al Jubal May 13 and lodged in a Saudi jail June 26 for suspected terror links, police said.
"Mahmood was among the five men, including Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Aamir and Tariq, who transformed the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) into the deadly Indian Mujahideen (IM) almost overnight a decade ago," said a police officer.
He was allegedly in charge of generating funds in Saudi Arabia and part of the IM's core team. He studied in Anjuman Engineering College in Karnataka's Bhatkal.
The Supreme Court May 30 issued notice to the central government on a petition of Mahmood's wife Nikhat Parveen seeking that her husband, allegedly missing from Saudi Arabia, be traced and presented before court.
The government told the court that the Saudi authorities had informed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) June 26 that Mahmood was under their detention.
Mahmood hails from Barh Saaila village in Darbhanga district of Bihar, about 200 km from Patna. His father, Firoz Ahmad, is in-charge of the Benipatti primary health centre in Madhubani district. His mother is a school teacher in Darbhanga, police said.
"The first time we received information about him was during the interrogation of Gauhar Aziz Khomani, one of the six IM operatives arrested from Chennai's Selaiyur in November 2011," the police officer said.
Mohammad Tariq Anjuman Hasan, 34, a civil engineer from Bihar and key ideologue of the IM, helped trace Mahmood, police said.
Hasan, who was arrested from Bihar in February, told investigators that while pursuing engineering at a college in Bhatkal in Karnataka in early 2000, he, along with Mahmood, met Bhatkal brothers - Riyaz and Iqbal - the founding members and top commanders of the IM, police said.
The Bhatkal brothers were believed to be based in Karachi in Pakistan, police said.
Both Hasan and Mahmood first become members of the SIMI. By 2003, they were contacted by Aamir Rezza Khan - the man allegedly responsible for the 2002 American Center attack in Kolkata and the kidnapping of Khadim shoes owner Partho Roy Burman in 2001 in the same city.
Reacting to the Mahmood's arrest, Home Secretary R.K. Singh said: "It was a very important catch."
The home secretary said that Saudi Arabia had never stated that Mahmood would not be deported but it took some time.
He said Mahmood was a key facilitator for 13 Indian Mujahideen terrorists who were arrested from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and a few other places last year.
R.K. Singh said India submitted "material evidence" against Mahmood to Saudi Arabia to press for his deportation.
He said Mahmood was deported after he had served a sentence.