Described as a “very important catch” by the Union Government, suspected Indian Mujahideen co-founder Fasih Mohammed was arrested by the Delhi Police soon after he landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here on Monday. He was deported from Saudi Arabia, where he had been detained five months ago.
Sources in the police said they would probe a possible link between the 28-year-old mechanical engineer and the April 2010 bomb blasts in Bangalore’s M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, besides looking into his alleged connection with those suspected to have been involved in the Jama Masjid terror attack here in September 2010.
Despite initial hurdles, the Indian agencies managed to secure his deportation after submitting “material evidence” to convince their Saudi counterparts that Fasih was an Indian national wanted in connection with terror strikes in the country. “It was a very important catch … he was deported by Saudi Arabia after he had served a sentence there. Saudi Arabia cooperated with us,” Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists here. While police officers remained tight-lipped, it is learnt that Fasih was put to joint interrogation by intelligence sleuths soon after he had been whisked away to the Lodhi Road Special Cell office.
Police investigations have revealed that Fasih, a resident of Darbhanga, Bihar, graduated from a college in the coastal Karnataka town of Bhatkal. “He joined the college in 2000 and passed out six years later. He then worked in Mumbai for about a year and left for Saudi Arabia in May 2007,” said a police source.
Hours after news of his arrest spread, family members came out in his defence stating he was innocent. “He was never in touch with any terrorist anywhere in the country or outside. We have complete faith in the judiciary and we will go through the legal process to fight the matter,” his brother, Sabih Mehmood, told The Hindu.
Lawyer Syed Irfan Alam said: “In the charge sheet filed by the police, there is nothing much against Fasih except a purported disclosure made by another accused, Gauhar Aziz Khomani, who happens to be a relative and neighbour of Fasih at Barh Samaila village. According to the charge sheet, he had introduced Fasih to Yasin Bhatkal [suspected Indian Mujahideen operative] in 2003.” Arguing that Fasih meeting someone did not mean that he was consciously part of the acts committed by that person, Mr. Alam said Khomani’s purported disclosure was yet to stand the test of facts. “The investigating agencies are bound to probe the disclosures made by Khomani,” he said.
Mr. Sabih Mehmood said Fasih had left for Saudi Arabia in May 2007. “Since then he had come every year till 2011, when he came for the last time in September for his marriage,” adding passport details would substantiate these facts.
Fasih’s wife, Nikhat Parveen, earlier approached the Supreme Court saying her husband was in the custody of central security agencies, a claim the government refuted.
Among the other terror suspects recently deported from Saudi Arabia is A. Rayees, an alleged associate of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militant T. Nazir. Rayees was deported earlier this month in connection with a visa violation, and was arrested by the Kerala Police in Mumbai. He is an accused in the case of seizure of ammonium nitrate from a house at Chakkarakkal in Kannur district in 2009.
In June, Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, suspected to be one of the handlers of the 26/11 Mumbai-attack terrorists, was deported, and arrested by the Delhi Police.