India Arrests Founder of Militant Group Behind Deadly Blasts

India Arrests Founder of Militant Group Behind Deadly Blasts
A poster of Yasin Bhatkal, founder of the Indian Mujahedeen, burns after being set on fire by demonstrators in Bangalore after his arrest, August 29, 2013. Photographer: Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images

India arrested the co-founder of a militant group that claimed responsibility for deadly bombings across the country, a victory for intelligence forces criticized in parliament for failing to stop terrorist attacks.

Yasin Bhatkal, 30, who founded the Indian Mujahedeen along with a family member, was captured yesterday near the border with Nepal, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters in New Delhi today. His group claimed it orchestrated a February attack that killed 16 people in Hyderabad and a 2011 bombing at New Delhi’s high court that left 15 people dead.

Bhatkal’s arrest strikes one name from the most-wanted list of India’s counter-terrorist National Investigation Agency. The arrest may assuage opposition lawmakers who say a security and intelligence overhaul following a series of attacks that killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008 has failed to achieve results.

The capture “will help in breaking the morale of the outfit, resolving some blast cases and also lead to the busting of other cells,” said N. Manoharan, an independent security analyst and a former academic at the Center for Land Warfare Studies.

The Indian Mujahedeen emerged in 2008 as a loose network of Islamic militants. The group was responsible for attacks that killed at least 150 people in 2008 alone, according to the study by the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.

The group has links with Pakistan, including guerrilla groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to the U.S. State Department. India alleges Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the November 2008 attack targeting a railway station and luxury hotels in Mumbai.

Second Arrest

The capture comes two weeks after India police arrested Abdul Karim, an alleged bomb maker for Lashkar-e-Taiba, who allegedly masterminded a series of bombings in the 1990s. Karim was also arrested near the Nepal border.

India has suffered at least eleven terrorist attacks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A parliamentary committee report faulted the National Investigation Agency in April for insufficient manpower and equipment. The committee report said a car shortage led some officers to take taxis to crime scenes.

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