Mumbai: Terming the arrested 13/7 accused Haroon Naik as "a very, very important member of Indian Mujahideen", Maharashtra ATS on Friday said he had undergone rigorous terror training in Pakistan and fought alongside al Qaeda in Afghanistan against "enemies" in the name of jihad.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad was on Wednesday granted custody of jailed IM operative Naik in the blasts case as he was suspected of having participated in the conspiracy and provided financial aid to carry out the terror strikes last year that claimed 27 lives.

The 35-year-old Naik, who is in the "upper echelon" of the home-grown terror outfit, had been earlier nabbed from the Mumbai international airport on charges of possessing fake currency notes on August 22 last year and since then was lodged in jail, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

Naik, who holds a higher position in IM hierarchy than Yasin Bhatkal, a top operative wanted in several blasts in the country, had undergone trainings called "Daura-E-Aam" and

"Daura-E-Khas" in 2001 at terror camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba at Bahawalpur in Pakistan. Naik had sneaked into Pakistan in the late 2000, Maria said.

As he volunteered to fight for jihad along with al Qaeda, Naik was imparted additional 15 days advanced training called "Bait-E-Rizan" in Pakistan and fought against "enemies" including Northern Alliance in Kandhahar in 2001, he said.

The Northern Alliance, was a military-political organisation that united all ethnic groups of Afghanistan fighting against the Afghan Taliban backed by al Qaeda.

Search at suspects UP house yields key evidence: ATS

The Maharashtra ATS said a search at arrested hawala operator Kanwar Patrija's house in Uttar Pradesh yielded "very important pieces of evidence".

"A search was conducted at the residence of Patrija in Ghaziabad on Thursday. Two broken mobile handsets, a slightly damaged SIM card and two diaries consisting the details of one year's hawala transactions were recovered. These things are very important pieces of evidence in the case," ATS chief Rakesh Maria said here.

The 42-year-old was arrested on Monday from Delhi in the blast case and two diaries were seized from him.

Patrija, who runs a jewellery shop in Chandni Chowk area of Old Delhi, has been accused of handing over Rs 10 lakh to fugitive Indian Mujahideen top operative Yasin Bhatkal at the behest of another arrested accused Haroon Naik for executing the co-ordinated blasts that killed 27 people in the metropolis on July 13 last year.

Patrija, in police custody till February 10, is said to be into hawala operations since the last 4-5 years.

Maharashtra ATS has written to Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seeking help in investigations into hawala angle of the case as it is not authorised to probe transactions covered by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

"We have also written to the Centre through the State Government requesting that the ATS and Mumbai Crime Branch be allowed to probe PMLA-related cases too. Hawala transactions usually surface during many cases probed by either ATS or Mumbai Crime Branch," Maria said.

The four arrested accused Naqi Ahmed, Nadeem, Patrija and Naik are likely to be booked under PMLA as the money used in the 13/7 blasts was sent to India from aboard through hawala channel, police said.

(Agencies)