New Delhi: A team of Special Cell of Delhi Police has arrested Irfan Ahmad (40), a key LeT operative, who worked with the founder members of Indian Mujahidin has been arrested. he was a fugitive on the run for over 15 years.
Irfan, along with his associates, had executed a series of bomb blasts in the intervening night of December 5 and 6, 1993 on various trains. These blasts were reported from Kanpur, Hyderabad, Indergarh in Rajasthan, Surat, Lucknow and Gulbarga.
Irfan, who had kept several fictitious – Umar, Mohd Haroon, Pappu, Dilip Kumar, Mohd. Yunus, Mohd. Ibrahim and Rana Noor Magar – was arrested on May 7 from Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh. His arrest was the outcome of one of the longest operations carried out in the recent past by the Special Cell of Delhi Police. The team responsible for Irfan’s arrest was led by Inspectors Sanjay Dutt,Rahul Kumar Singh and Dharmender Kumar.
Irfan is a permanent resident of Mohalla Bagwani in Nazirpura falling under Kotwali Nagar Police station of Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh. He was currently residing at Mohalla Bhaiya Tola, Galla Mandi, Bhairawa, Siddharth Nagar in Nepal
The name Irfan Ahmad had first figured on the radar of Indian security agencies as the man who on December 5 and 6, 1993 – a year after the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya had planted bombs in two Rajdhani trains, the Delhi – Howrah and Howrah – Delhi — that pass through Kanpur Railway Station. Irfan Ahmad was initially arrested by the CBI in January 1994 along with hardened terrorists like Dr. Jalees Ansari, a resident of Mumbai and Jamal Alvi, resident of Lucknow, who had created havoc by successfully executing a series of bomb blasts in trains across India.
Irfan Ahmad was arrested for the the first time on January 1, 1994 by the Special Cell in a case registered under FIR No.46/94 on January 17, 1994, under Sections 3/4/5 TADA (P) Act, section 5 of Explosive Substances Act & sections 25/27/54/59 of Arms Act by the Malviya Nagar Police station in Delhi. He was then handed over to the CBI, which was investigating the train serial bombings. The CBI subsequently arrested his other associates Dr. Jalees Ansari, Fazlur Rehman and Mohd. Amin (from Mumbai), Salim Ansari, Jahruddin, Nisarudin,Shamsudin, Azeemudin, Mohd Yusuf and Aizaz Akbar (from Gulbarga, Karnataka), Ashfaque Khan (from Dausa, Rajasthan), Habib Ahmed, Jamal Alvi, Mohd Afaq andAbre Rehmat Ansari (from Uttar Pradesh) and they were tried in cases registered vides RC No. 43 & 44 (S)/93-CBI/LKO and RC-37 (S)/93-CBI/JPR.
While Irfan Ahmad was convicted in 1999 in the case registered against him by theSpecial Cell, the trial of the CBI cases was pending when, in 2001, Irfan managed to get parole to attend his brother’s marriage in Behraich, UP. He jumped parole was was absconding. After efforts to locate him drew a blank, the CBI and /STF/Delhi declared a reward of Rs. 50,000/- for his arrest. While Irfan was on the run,on February 24, 2005, 15 of his associates facing trial before the CBI court were convicted under TADA and sentenced forlife imprisonment.
While Irfan Ahmad was lodged in Tihar jail,especially between 1996 and 1999, he became a close friend of Aasif Reza Khan, a resident of Kolkata, who was imprisoned in another TADA case. The association with Aasif Reza, who was later killed in a police encounter in Gujarat, proved to be the beginning of the second inning in Irfan’s terrorist life. In Tihar, Aasif had ganged up with Pakistani terrorists like Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, who was subsequently released in Kandhahar in Afghanistan by the Government of India to secure the lives of the passengers of the ill-fated IC-814 flight. He was absorbed by the ISI as the Indian face for a new Tanzeem, later known as the Indian Mujahidin.
Aasif Reza had told Irfan that it was time to initiate a new Jehad in India and Irfan Ahmad committed allegiance to Aasif Reza, who had sowed the seeds of Indian Mujahidin from within the confines of Tihar jail.While Irfan Ahmad was being shifted to Ajmer jail to stand trial for the 1993 bombings case, Aasif Reza, who was then about to get released, had asked Irfan to find a way out of the jail life and meet him as soon as possible in Kolkata.
On June 19, 2001, Irfan managed to procure parole for 4 days on the pretext of the marriage of his younger brother. However, as had transpired between him and Aasif,instead of surrendering himself before the jail authorities after the expiry of parole, he went straight to Kolkata and met Aasif Reza Khan.
Aasif told him that there was no question of going back to jail and that Irfan would have to look after the work of their new Tanzeem in Nepal.
In Kolkata, Aasif Raza Khan introduced Irfan to his brother Amir Reza Khan, alias Rizwan, the current co-chief of Indian Mujahidin reportedly operating along with Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal out of Karachi, Pakistan. They finalized the contours of their new Tanzeem Indian Mujahidin and works were distributed among them. As there was a requirement of immediate cash to get the Tanzeem activities going, Asif Raza Khan orchestrated the sensational kidnapping of Partho Roy Burman, the owner of Khadim Shoes.
Alongwith Aasif Reza and Amir Reza, Irfan Ahmad learnt the operation of e-mail accounts that were to be their primary mode of communication. Being a hardened terrorist who had successfully executed bomb attacks, Irfan was a valuable asset for Aasif Reza and Amir Reza Khan. When the time came to expand the activities of Indian Mujahidin, Amir Reza Khan went to Karachi as the Pakistan head of Indian Mujahidin while Irfan was asked to go to Kathmandu and get himself entrenched there as the Nepal head of Indian Mujahidin.
In Kathmandu, Irfan took the cover of a small scale entrepreneur engaged in jacket manufacturing business and also opened a cyber café which was to act as the communication hub for the Tanzeem. His Kathmandu base was to be treated as the transit node for the infiltration of seasoned Jehadis who were to come from Pakistan through Amir Reza Khan. Also, newer Indian recruits had to be sent over to Pakistan for receiving training in the handling of arms and ammunition and fabrication of IEDs and for that purpose also, Irfan was the single point solution.
In Nepal, Irfan Ahmad procured documents showing him to be a Nepali citizen in the name of Mohd. Ibrahim. After about 2-3 months of settling down in Nepal, he called over his wife, two sons and a daughter to Kathmandu and all of them settled there with fictitious identities.
As per the settled rules of business of the Tanzeem, Irfan used to receive money from Amir Raza for family expenses. This money was sent by Amir Reza Khan from Karachi through Western Union or Prabhu Money Transfer facilities. Apart from the monthly family expenses, Amir Reza used to send other amounts for establishing the business cover for Irfan.
During his stay in Nepal, Irfan was tasked to indoctrinate Indian youths and send them over to Pakistan for receiving training in Jehad being arranged by Amir Reza Khan under the patronage of ISI. Apart from this, he was given the responsibility to receive Pakistan trained militants, who were launched by the ISI. Apart from this, he was also behind a few sensational cases of abduction for raising funds. In one such criminal act in 2006 in Bihar,the attempt went wrong and his associates were apprehended by villagers, who lynched them to death. Irfan managed to escape to Nepal.
As the Tanzeem activitoes increased, the requirement of “trusted” manpower also grew.Irfan used this opportunity to launch his son Issa in the world of terrorism. Issa was tasked with safe transportation of terrorists received in Kathmandu by Irfan to their varying destinations in India.
Irfan: The elusive terrorist
On May 8,2006,a team of Special Cell had busted a module of LeT by apprehending two Pakistan trained LeT militants – Mohd Ali Chhipa aliasUbedullah, resident of Ahmadabad and Feroz Abdul Latif Ghaswala alias Abdullah, resident of Mumbai and neutralizing a Pakistani terrorist Mohd Iqbal alias Abu Hamza, alias Khuzema, alias Abdulla, resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan. Abu Hamza was the then ‘Operational Commander of LeT in India’. He was neutralized near the round-about close to the main gate of Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. There was a huge haul of arms, ammunition and explosives in this operation. The arrested militants along with the slain militant Mohd Iqbal, alias Abu Hamza had chosen sensitive locations in Delhi NCR along with the RSSoffices of Ahmadabad and Mumbai as their targets for carrying out terrorist attacks.
During the irinterrogation, Feroz Abdul Latif Ghaswala alias Abdullah had disclosed that he had received directions from Azam Cheema alias Baba, resident of Pakistan, the Chief of Operations of LeT to receive Mohd Iqbal alias Abu Hamza, alias Khuzema, alias Abdulla, resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan from Behraich, UP from one ‘Pappu’. Feroz had visited Behraich to receive Mohd Iqbal alias Abu Hamza from Pappu, who had disclosed to Feroz that he was a permanent resident of Behraich but was operating from Nepal. This was the second discovery of Irfan Ahmad, who had been on the run from Indian security establishment ever since jumping parole 5 years ago.As disclosed by Feroz, Pappu was no one else but Irfan Ahmad who was active along with his son Abrar Ahmed alias Mohd Essa. In the continuing investigations of case under FIR No.31/06 registered by the Special Cell of Delhi, non-bailable Warrants of Abrar Ahmad alias Mohd Essa and Irfan Ahmad alias Mohd Haroon alias Pappu were obtained from the concerned court and efforts were launched to trace and apprehend them. In this case, 4 Kgs of RDX, 5 Kgs of PETN explosive,4 detonators, Rs. 50,000/- in cash, 10 hand grenades, 2 AK-56 rifles, 6magazines, 180 live cartridges, 3 liters of Nitric Acid, 1 liter glycerin, 3Kgs of urea and 1 Thuraya satellite phone were recovered.
On December 16, 2009, Firoz Abdul Latif and Mohammed Ali Chhipa alias Ubedullah, both LeT terrorists, were convicted by the concerned court. However, there was more to come from this father-son duo before either of them could be located.
Arrest of Mohd. Issa, son of Irfan Ahmad
On August 11, 2006,a team of Special Cell successfully apprehended Mohd. Issa alias Raj alias Abrar Ahmed, son of Irfan Ahmed along with one Anas alias Rizwan, son of Chirag Din, resident of Chak No. 115, GB Tehsil, PS Jadwala, District Faislabad, Pakistan near New Delhi Railway Station. 2 Kgs explosive material, along with 5 electric detonators were recovered from them. Accused Mohd Issa revealed that he was a permanent resident of Gali Near Kasai Wali Masjid,Mohalla Nazirpura, Behraich, Uttar Pradesh but was at that time residing in Nepal with his father Irfan Ahmad. The arrest of Mohd. Issa led to renewed search for Irfan but this shrewd terrorist remained beyond the reach of Indian security agencies. Subsequently, on October 26, 2009, both Mohd. Issa and Anas (Pakistani terrorist) were convicted by the court.
In 2007, Irfan travelled to Karachi, Pakistan to meet Amir Reza Khan aliasRizwan to discussthe future of their Tanzeem. By this time, the Indian Mujahidin had acquired a wide ranging membership with the induction of the Bhatkal brothers – Riyaz and Iqbal. While many of the newer recruits had crossed over to Pakistan after the Batla House encounter, Ahmad Siddibappa Zarar alias Yasin Bhatkal was wandering between India and Nepal.
Irfan was arrested in 2010 by the Nepal Police for attempting to obtain a new Nepalese citizenship on forged documents. After trial, he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment with his real identity still concealed even from the Nepalese authorities. He was lodged in Sindhupal Chowk Jail in Nepal. His sentence was to end in July 2015 but the recent earthquake in Nepal gave him another chance to escape when the jail walls collapsed and Irfan just walked away. To make a third beginning, he entered Behraich to avoid being re-arrested by Nepal Police but was apprehended by the Special Cell.
The arrest of Irfan Ahmad is a major breakthrough in the continuing fight against terrorism. His interrogations are likely to throw light on the scope and spread of both Lashker-e-Toiba and Indian Mujahidin and also expose many more sleeper modules and logistical hubs of these terrorist organizations spread across India and Nepal.