Can the Indian Mujahideen still strike? The top four who ran the outfit since the year 2009 have all been arrested and this without a doubt has made the outfit weaker, but then is it the end?
Let us look back at the outfit from the time it made its debut in the year 2006-2007. The year 2006 witnessed a major blast at Varanasi. At that point in time everyone was hunting for clues and while the names of some operatives did crop up, none could say with certainty that it was the Indian Mujahideen which had struck. In fact none of were really aware of the existence of this outfit and the blame went to the Students Islamic Movement of India. The year 2007, November 23 saw six blasts that rocked Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad. Just when the police were all set to blame the SIMI, came an announcement which announced the birth of the Indian Mujahideen. The audacious announcement by a set of very determined operatives came with a tag line, “catch us if you can, we are the Indian Mujahideen.” The Indian Mujahideen had decided to take on the establishment and said that many innocent languishing in jail were not being represented properly in the courts and hence they decided to carry out an attack on the judiciary.
The IM at that time was headed by a set of very skilled persons who could stike and worse announce at will. During the Ahmedabad blasts, they even announced the attack minutes prior to the incident. The IM was then headed by Riyaz Bhatkal, Abdus Subhan, Mansoor Pheerbhoy and Iqbal Bhatkal. The attacks continued but then the heat on these operatives went up to such an extent that there was a major crack down across the country which resulted in the fleeing of Subhan and the Bhatkal brothers. Mansoor was however picked up by the police.
The crack down weakened the outfit a great deal and it became headless for a very long time. Not a soul was even aware at that time there was a Yasin Bhatkal waiting in the ranks to take over the IM and then transform it into a deadlier outfit. Yasin came into the picture and built a core team which comprised just four persons. The idea was to communicate directly, show no bravado through mails claiming responsibility for the attacks, but at the same time strike big. Yasin had a good run for sometime between 2009 and 2013 before he was arrested. During this period he carried out attacks at Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi and also Hyderabad. All of them were major attacks.
With the arrest of Yasin and also his accomplice Assadullah Akthar alias Haddi, there was a question regarding the survival of the IM which was raised. The IM no doubt had lost a very important person, but then contrary to the belief of many the outfit found a replacement almost immediately in Tehsin Akthar. Tehsin was a major operative who was in the known of everything that Yasin did. He was the one who set up modules in Bihar along with Yasin and hence he was the right person according to the IM to replace Yasin. What Tehsin managed to do we got to see at Bodhgaya and Patna. He was looking to make major announcements through his attacks. At Bodhgaya the message was directed towards the cause of the Rohingya Muslims and at Patna it was at Narendra Modi.
Now that Tehsin has been arrested, the question of the outfit’s future and survival has been raised again. Will they find a new boss? The answer is yes. Who could be the new boss is something that we will learn in the days to come.
Finding a new boss and getting the organisation back on track will not be too difficult. Heads of outfits and those controlling it are known to nurture new faces keeping mind the possible eventualities.
Why the agencies would say that it will not be hard to find a replacement is because of these persons mentioned below:
Riyaz Bhatkal: The founder member who is in Pakistan oversees every operation of the outfit. He is closely in contact with almost every member of the outfit and knows each one’s capabilities by heart.
Iqbal Bhatkal: Riyaz Bhatkal’s brother is with him in Karachi. He plays a key role in arranging the travel of IM operatives and ably supports his brother.
Ariz Khan: Goes by the alias Junaid, he hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and does have the capabilities of striking big.
Mudassir: He is a choice for the next bomb maker for the IM. He is in Lahore currently and could well be sent down to prepare bombs for the IM.
Mirza Beg: He is a danger man and one would have to watch him closely. A key operative he went off the radar after the German Bakery blasts
Dr Shahnawaz Alam: Another capable operative believed to be holed up in Saudi Arabia. He was part of the IM during the days of Riyaz Bhatkal and is well versed with the outfit.
Bada Sajid: He has worked with Yasin and Tehsin while setting up the Bihar module. He too is on the run today, but in India according to the agencies.
Afridi Alamzeb- The head of the Gujarat module. A low key operative he is still in India and the last known operation of his was in Gujarat when he was trying to set up modules over there.
Bagga- The accused in the Delhi blasts is today in Pakistan. He is close to Riyaz and could be roped in for an operation.
Abu Rashid: Part of the Gujarat module. He is very much in India according to the information available. He is said to be helping Alamzeb with the Gujarat module.
Sultan– The key recruiter for the IM holed up in Lahore. He is the one who ensures that the IM never runs out of men and carries out the job of recruitment.
Mohsin Chaudhary– A major operative who headed the Maharashtra module. Currently on the run and could be roped in as he is leader material.
Amir Reza Khan: The IM founder. He is very much active and aides the outfit in every activity.
Bigdu Khan– A close aide of Yasin. He was part of the second rung of the IM when Yasin was heading it. He is in Pakistan at the moment.