Top Indian Mujahideen terrorist Zia-Ur Rehman, alias Waqas, who has been arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi Police from Rajasthan, was a key aide of arrested IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal and an expert in making IEDs.
"The 25-year-old Rehman had undergone a 21-day training known as 'daura-amma' at the Naushera camp of Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan. (He also) attended advanced training at a camp in Waziristan-Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA)," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), Sanjeev Kumar Yadav. Rehman had come to India in 2010 from Pakistan via Nepal.
According to police, Rehman was born in 1989 at Mustafabad in the Toba Tek Singh district of Punjab in present-day Pakistan. His father, Jalaluddin, is a farmer. His grandfather had migrated to Pakistan from Phagwara in Indian Punjab at the time of Partition.
At a young age itself, he used to hear a lot of propaganda against India which is reportedly spread by terrorist tanzeems in Pakistan as they scout for local recruits, police said.
After completing schooling, Rehman took admission at the Government College of Technology, Faislabad, in 2006 in a Diploma in Food Technology course. It was there that some peers introduced him to the taped lectures of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) founder Maulana Masood Azhar, which inspired him to choose extremism.
In 2009, Rehman came in contact with one Taj Mohammed, who used to collect donations on behalf of Jamaat-Ud-Dawa, the front organisation for LeT. It was Taj Mohammed who arranged for Rehman's training at the Naushera camp.
Subsequently, one Abdur Rehman of JeM arranged for his training at a camp situated in Waziristan where he received intensive training in arms and ammunition. He was also trained in the preparation of IEDs, especially in the craft of making IEDs based on Hydrogen Peroxide (liquid form), Potassium Chloride and Ammonium Nitrate.
After his training, Rehman was asked by his JeM contact to go to Karachi to meet Riyaz Bhatkal, the absconding chief of IM. Rehman met Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal in Karachi and was asked by them to proceed to Kathmandu in Nepal with directions to join other members of IM as they planned terrorist strikes in India.
Rehman reached Kathmandu along with Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi (arrested with Yasin Bhatkal) in September, 2010, and was received by Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, the present chief of IM after the Yasin's arrest.
From Nepal, Rehman came to Darbhanga in Bihar where he met Yasin and other members of the Bihar module of IM. This module then carried out the Jama Masjid attacks on September 19, 2010. He returned to Bihar after successfully executing the terror strikes, police said.
In Bihar, after carrying out a comprehensive review of the Jama Masjid attacks wherein the IED prepared by their module did not have the desired impact, Rehman informed Yasin about his expertise in making Hydrogen Peroxide-based IEDs. "This later led to the Sheetla Ghat, Varanasi blasts on December 7, 2010. While making the IEDs for this strike, Rehman suffered an injury while connecting the detonator and the timer as the former went off. He sustained injuries as a result on two fingers of his left hand.
"After the Varanasi bombings, as per the directions of Yasin, Rehman shifted to Mumbai where he stayed at a rented accommodation, Habib Apartment, in Byculla. In June, 2011, Rehman, Bhatkal, Haddi and Tehseen started preparations for the Mumbai serial blasts. After preparing the IEDs, blasts were carried out at Opera House and Zaveri Bazar," said Special Commissioner (Special Cell), SN Shrivastava.
The next strike carried out by Rehman was the Pune serial blasts of August 1, 2012. For that, he partnered with Haddi and the Maharashtra module of IM comprising Asad, Imran, Irfan, Feroze and Sayed Maqbool (all since arrested by the Special Cell).
After carrying out the Pune blasts, which did not yield the desired results, Rehman and Haddi left for Mangalore and settled in a safehouse.
In Mangalore, Rehman received instructions from Riyaz Bhatkal to prepare for carrying out bomb blasts in Hyderabad.
In early February, 2013, Rehman and Haddi shifted to Hyderabad where Tehseen also joined them. The Hyderabad serial blasts were successfully executed by these three terrorists on February 21, 2013. After carrying out the strike, Rehman returned to Mangalore and stayed there for some time.
When the news broke of Yasin and Haddi's arrest by Indian security agencies, Riyaz directed Rehman to immediately leave the Mangalore hideout. Waqas moved to Munnar in Kerala and rented a house there.
Tehseen also visited him there for a short period. After staying in Munnar, Rehman kept travelling through Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra while staying in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal and Tehseen.
Upon directions from Tehseen to come to Ajmer for an assignment, Rehman came to Ajmer from where he was arrested early in the morning yesterday.