With Mangalore resident Abdul Samad Bawa now being questioned by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism police who suspect his involvement in February's bombing of a café in Pune, investigators say they now hope to establish whether he was one of at least three individuals who were recorded by a separate closed-circuit camera system, located in a hotel adjoining the café, who met on the street minutes before the bombings.
Police sources said they would also examine allegations that Samad might have been linked to a cache of weapons recovered in Mumbai's suburbs last year. However, they denied media reports that Samad was also being questioned for his connections to the November, 2008 Lashkar-e-Taiba assault on Mumbai.
No past criminal investigation has thrown up any suggestion that Samad was involved in the Indian Mujahideen's networks or organised crime activity, Maharashtra police sources said.
Little is known about Samad's background, but Karnataka police sources say he had been studying in Bangalore until 2008, when several key Indian jihadists were held in a series of nationwide raids. He was not linked by prosecutors to any of the Indian Mujahideen's operations.
But investigators say they hope Samad's questioning will offer insights into the Indian Mujahideen's networks in the United Arab Emirates, from where he has just returned, and Pakistan.
Investigation sources say informants identified an individual filmed by the café's closed-circuit camera as Bawa. Bawa, along with key Indian Mujahideen commanders, Riyaz Ismail Shahbandri and his brother Iqbal Shahbandri, are thought by Indian intelligence to have conducted extensive recruitment and fund-raising operations among the Indian diaspora in the UAE.