**New Delhi: ** An Indian Mujahideen operative, termed the “Bin Laden of India” and the allegedly mastermind of the 2008 Gujarat serial blasts that killed 56 persons was arrested here after a brief gunfight, Delhi Police said on Monday.
“One of the most wanted terrorists of SIMI-Indian Mujahideen, Abdul Subhan Qureshi (was) arrested after a brief of exchange of fire,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Pramod Singh Kushwaha told reporters here.
Qureshi, 39, was arrested from Gazipur area in east Delhi on Saturday night following an exchange of fire when he came to meet one of his old associates.
He is accused of plotting the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008 when as many as 21 bombs planted in tiffin boxes and motor cycles went off in busy markets and bus stations. Over 200 persons were also injured. The toll could have gone up but 29 of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) failed to explode due to various technical reasons.
“Carrying a reward of Rs 4 lakh on his head declared by National Investigation Agency (NIA), Qureshi, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur, wanted to revive the Indian Mujahideen in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka,” Kushwaha said.
The arrested IM leader had organized four training camps during 2007-2008 in Madhya Pradesh, Karala, Gujarat and Karnataka where he, with his other accomplices, trained his cadres to go to war, or fight jihad, against the Indian establishment, he said.
According to the police official, Qureshi was one of the chief instructors and main organizers of those camps, where participants were trained in arms usage, rock climbing, swimming, physical fitness, making petrol bombs, and so on. They were also given psychological and other special training to mislead interrogators in case of their arrest.
Qureshi had laid the foundation of Indian Mujahideen with Riyaz Bhatkal and some radicalised youth outfits, said Kushwaha, adding that he had gone to Pune in connection with the planning of Gujarat bomb blasts. After his accomplice and SIMI chief Safdar Nagori and 11 others were arrested in Indore in 2008, he escaped to Gujrat and later made crossed over to Nepal, where he had staying since then on a fake identity.
“He also had gone to Saudi Arabia for two years (2015-2017) to raise funds from his contacts to revive Indian Mujahideen in India as SIMI has almost been finished in India with the arrest of all its leaders,” he added.
Police said that they had recovered a sophisticated weapon and five cartridges and some documents from Qureshi and are examining them. “We found that he was not planning any criminal activity in Delhi near Republic Day. He wanted to give only hardcore training to his cadre in India to revive IM once again. He was also worked as financial secretary for SIMI and raised funds through his networks in overseas countries,” said Kushwaha.
The IM leader has indulged in various criminal offences, use weapons of explosives, transnational crimes and terrorism, he said, adding that police was questioning him to know more about his previous history and further criminal planning in India.