New Delhi:  A suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative who is the fifth accused in the August 1 Pune serial blasts case has been arrested, Delhi Police said Friday. Four others were arrested earlier.

Sayed Maqbool alias Zuber, 35, who was arrested, had trained his associates to manufacture improvised explosive devices (IED) to carry out the blasts, police said.

Maqbool, a resident of Nanded in Maharashtra, was held by Delhi Police's Special Cell from his hideout in Hyderabad October 23.The other accused - Asad Khan, 33, and Imran Khan, 31 - were held from south Delhi September 26, Sayed Feroz alias Hamza, 38, was arrested October 1 from Nizamuddin Railway Station in Delhi, and Langda Irfan Mustafa, 30, was caught in Jaipur October 10, police said.

Maqbool was closely associated with the other four, police said. He first came in contact with Imran through a common friend and later met Asad and Irfan. Maqbool then taught the four at Asad's farmhouse in Aurangabad how to make bombs by using urea, diesel and fire cracker powder, police said.

In April, Imran introduced Maqbool to brothers Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, the chiefs of Indian Mujahideen (IM).  Before the August 1 Pune serial blasts, Maqbool, Irfan, Imran and Asad discussed their plans to carry out a suicide attack on a Buddhist shrine in Bodh Gaya in Bihar in retaliation for atrocities on Muslims in Myanmar, said S.N. Srivastava, Special Commissioner of Police (special cell).Their plan had the approval of Bhatkal brothers, he said.

Since Bhatkals wanted to avenge the death of Quateel Siddiqui, an IM operative who was killed in Yerawada Central Jail in Pune on June 8, they decided to carry out bomb blasts in Pune first, he said.

Police said that on Riyaz Bhatkal's direction, Maqbool helped Imran do the recce of Dilkush Nagar, Begum Bazar and Abids in Hyderabad about a month before Ramzan. Maqbool began his career in crime with Azam Gauri alias Aleem of Andhra Pradesh, who was killed in a gunbattle with police in 2000. "Maqbool is involved in three murder cases," said Srivastava.

Maqbool also helped set up terror group Indian Muslim Mohammadin Mujahidin (IMMM) with Gauri and Roshan Baig in 1999 and they worked as social workers campaigning against dowry, corruption and pornographic films, he said. Gauri mentored Maqbool and taught him how to prepare IEDs for bombing theatres that screened pornographic films.

Maqbool was involved in four bomb blasts in 2000, Srivastava said. "The first blast was done in Kaketiya Hotel in Hyderabad while two other blasts were in Sharda and Lamba theatres in Nanded. However, the fourth blast took place at Gauri's house where they were preparing an IED," said Srivastava.     

Maqbool is also close to Abdul Rauf, leader of All India Majlis Itehad-ul Muslimi (AIMIM), a political party, and Nashruddin, who with Gauri was involved in the murder of Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in 2003, he said.  Maqbool was president of AIMIM Dharmabad in Nanded.

(Agencies)

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