2006 meeting with Ilyas Kashmiri sent Yasin down jihad path: Investigators

Yasin BhatkalYasin has identified the al-Qaeda leader he met in Abu Dhabi, when he was a 23-year-old living in Dubai, as only “the doctor”. (PTI)

A Meeting with a senior al-Qaeda leader identified as the "doctor" in the Gulf in 2006 is suspected to have pushed Indian Mujahideen operative Mohammed Ahmed Yasin Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal firmly down the path of jihad. Investigators probing Yasin, who was arrested on August 28, believe that the "doctor" was in all probability Ilyas Kashmiri.

Related: Yasin Bhatkal reveals Indian Mujahideen's modus operandi

Now suspected to be dead, Kashmiri was a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda commander who was indicted by the FBI in 2009, along with Mumbai 26/11 accused David Headley, Tahawwur Rana and former Pakistan military official Syed Hashim Pasha, of a "conspiracy to bomb places of public use in India".

Related: How Yasin Bhatkal became a terrorist?

Yasin has identified the al-Qaeda leader he met in Abu Dhabi, when he was a 23-year-old living in Dubai, as only "the doctor". However, there is evidence from the trial in the US of Kashmiri and others, as well as a statement by a senior al-Qaeda leader in 2011 regarding the Pune German Bakery blast of February 13, 2010, indicating that Kashmiri was called "doctor" and that he and the Indian Mujahideen group were working together.

Related: Bhatkal disclosures ring alarm bells, tells police '100 hardcore associates ready'

An intelligence input about Yasin meeting a senior al-Qaeda operative in Abu Dhabi in 2006 has been in existence for a while. Though Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current top al-Qaeda leader, is also nicknamed "the doctor", the man Yasin met is believed to have been Kashmiri.

Related: Bhatkal's handler a Pakistani Army Lieutenant Colonel

In the course of its case in a Northern Illinois district court against Headley, Rana, Kashmiri and Pasha in 2009, the FBI had produced recordings of conversations and e-mails, where Headley frequently referred to Kashmiri in code as "doctor" and "Mr Doctor".

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