Who Is India’s Bin Laden, Abdul Subhan?

How an educated, well-paid Mumbai techie went on to become the Indian Mujahideen’s top bomb maker. 

5 min read
Hindi Female

In March 2001, Abdul Subhan Qureshi wrote his resignation letter stating – “I wish to inform you that I have decided to devote one complete year to pursue religious and spiritual matters,” He was 30 years old at the time. It was the beginning of the making of ‘India’s Osama bin Laden’.

Abdul Subhan Qureshi (45) was captured by the Delhi Police on 22 January from the Ghazipur area following a brief shoot-out. The arrest came while security preparations were being made for Friday’s Republic Day. The police recovered pistols and documents from Qureshi to indicate that he was trying to revive the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

Here’s how a quiet techie turned bomb-maker became a ‘big catch’ who could reveal a lot more about home-grown terror organisations.


Who was Abdul Subhan Qureshi ?

Abdul Subhan Qureshi was known by several aliases – Kasim, Zakir, Qab and Tauqeer.

He was part of the Students’ Islamist Movement and a part of the churn that saw the banned organisation merge with the Indian Mujahideen with the help of leaders from international terror organisations like the Lahskar-el-Taiba and the Al-Qaeda.

A top bomb-maker for the Indian Mujahideen, he was, at different points in time, involved in recruiting and indoctrinating youth into the Indian Mujahideen, teaching them to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and raising funds for reviving the SIMI/IM terror network in the country.

All this made him a top name in the National Investigation Agency’s Most Wanted List.


Qureshi's Terror Graph

11 July 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings
Abdul Subhan Qureshi allegedly made the bombs that were placed inside pressure cookers and placed on board seven Mumbai local trains, timed to go off during peak rush hour. The blasts went off within eleven minutes of each other, killing over 200 people and injuring 700 others.

25 July 2008 Bangalore Blasts
A series of nine crude bombs triggered by low-intensity crude bombs triggered by timers exploded in the city in which 2 people were killed and 20 injured. Investigations revealed that Abdul Subhan Qureshi helped assemble the explosives.

26 July 2008 Gujarat Blasts
21 bombs were placed inside tiffin boxes and placed on motorcycles parked in busy market places, bus stations and even at hospitals where injured were being treated, within a span of 70 minutes. 56 people were killed and over 200 injured. Abdul Subhan Qureshi is believed to have assembled the bombs used in the attack.

13 September 2008
Investigators believe that Qureshi collaborated with Indian Mujahideen’s Riaz Bhatkal to mastermind a series of five synchronised bomb blasts at various locations in Delhi. At least 30 people lost their lives and over 100 were injured.


Recent Terror Activities

Abdul Subhan Qureshi’s name first appeared on the terror list when the Indian Mujahideen sent e-mails after each of the terror strikes it claimed responsibility for in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi. This was between 2007-2008 alone.

Agencies believed that it was Qureshi signing off on each of these e-mails as ‘as-Arbi’. However, later, Mumbai Crime branch investigations revealed that they were sent by Mohammad Asghar Peerbhoy, a Pune-based engineer who worked for Yahoo.

This slip-up gave Qureshi enough time to slip off the radar.

In 2010, he took refuge in Nepal with the help of a close associate named Haseeb Raza who. After his arrest, however, Qureshi knew he was no longer safe in Nepal. By the time investigators reached his hideout, he had fled.

In February-March 2015, he travelled to Saudi Arabia to arrange finances to revive the Indian Mujahideen network which was falling apart. He returned to Nepal only in 2017, which is when he started to make regular India visits, travelling across the country and indoctrinating terror recruits.


Qureshi's Pre-Terror Days

It is believed that Sadiq Israr indoctrinated Qureshi. Sadiq Israr was the co-founder of Indian Mujahideen and a resident of Mumbai’s Cheetah camp locality, along with Salim Mujahid Islahi from Hyderabad. Islahi was shot dead in 2004 when a team of the Gujarat police opened fire to disperse a mob that tried to prevent the arrest of Maulana Naseeruddin, an accused in the Haren Pandya murder case.

According to the Indian Express, Abdul Subhan Qureshi was born on 13 November 1971. He studied at Antonio De Souza High School in Byculla, South Mumbai, and cleared SSC in 1988 with 76.57 percent.

He subsequently enrolled at Bharti Vidyapeeth Institute of Technology and did a Diploma in Industrial Electronics. He also completed a Diploma in Computer Engineering in 1995 and started working as a customer support engineer with a private firm. In 1999, Qureshi was part of BPCL’s intranet project for six months — he was responsible for installation of servers at the PSU giant’s corporate office and refinery in Mumbai. The project was undertaken by Wipro InfoTech, and Qureshi was given the responsibility since he was a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), one requirement for the job.
As reported in the Indian Express

He’s been described as a quiet student. Revelations about his links to terrorism stunned his teachers at the Antonio De Souza High School in Byculla.

The Hindustan Times quoted a teacher of his who requested anonymity.

...He was not the kind of student who would score a 90% in mathematics or any subject but he would do better than many others in his class.

The First Arrest
Abdul Subhan Qureshi’s first arrest was on 5 December 1998, a day before the sixth anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition. 27 years old at the time, Qureshi, who was at the time working as a techie in Mumbai, was arrested along with two friends after they tried to stick posters against the demolition on the walls of the Pydhonie police station in South Mumbai. They were booked under Section 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act, 1995, which entails a maximum punishment of three-month jail, or a Rs 2,000 fine, as per an Indian Express report.

By 1998, Abdul Subhan Qureshi had become a staunch SIMI activist, according to sources quoted by Hindustan Times. He left Mumbai and moved to Zakir Nagar in Delhi where along with his day job with private firms, he also edited Islamic Voice, SIMI’s English magazine. He even attended the 1999 Aligarh conference addressed by the founder and spiritual leader of Palestine’s Hamas, Ahmed Yasin.

Abdul Subhan Qureshi’s family lives in Mumbai’s Mira Road. His parents told news agencies that they have received visits from officials belonging to multiple agencies.

“We have been staying here for over 12 years but never in these years has he (Qureshi) visited us. We have no relation with him. If Delhi Police has arrested him, then he should be brought to justice. We have learnt about his arrest through the media,” Qureshi’s father was quoted as saying.

(With Inputs from Hindustan Times and Indian Express)

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