The Mahabodhi temple has been under the radar of both the naxals as well as the Indian Mujahideen and there are alerts that date back to 2011. While the naxal menace has been on the rise in Bihar, both local police as well as the Intelligence Bureau have sounded alerts regarding a possible attack by the Maoists.
However the most crucial alert dates back to the year 2011 following the arrests that were made in connection with the Pune serial blasts.
Was Abu Jundal aware of the Indian Mujahideen module that carried out the Hyderabad blasts? Investigators say that the interrogation report of Jundal would be revisited and the information he has given out on Fayaz Kagzai would hold the key to understand this IM module better.
Jundal says in his interrogation that Kagzai who is a close aide of his was the man controlling this Indian Mujahideen outfit which carried out blasts in Pune and Hyderabad. Jundal who was one of the men in the control room at Karachi staging the 26/11 attack says that he was moved out of Pakistan and sent to Saudi Arabia to help Kagzai who was instrumental in setting up the IM base on the instructions of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
Even as the Indian police continue to bust modules of the Indian Mujahideen across the country, the most worrying factor that comes to one’s mind is that the group has become an ideology for several youth thus making the outfit even more deadly.
There are nearly 300 recruitment’s that take place every year into the Indian Mujahideen and while not each one of them is actively involved in an operation, a majority of them float the ideological goal of the outfit, investigations have revealed.
From explosions to assassinations- this is something that has been revealed during the interrogation of various Indian Mujaheddin operatives who have been arrested over the past couple of months. There have been nearly one dozen arrests in the past 6 months and what one finds common during the probe is that each one has revealed at least one plot which involves an assassination.
Imran, Soofa, Mohammad Abrar Khan, Aqeel Khilji and Mohammed Zaffar Hussain Qureshi, all operatives of the Indian Mujahideen are alleged to have revealed at least one plan to assassinate high profile personalities who they feel have been a threat to their religion.
The Indian Mujahideen have over the past couple of years carried out a few attacks, but those have really not that been that impactful when compared to their earlier outings in different parts of the country. Going by the police reports which have been prepared after the recent spate of arrests of the IM cadres it appears that the outfit has been trying to put in a lot of its resources mainly into assassinations when compared to blasts across the country.
Imran and Soofa were one of the first few operatives to reveal their plans regarding an assassination plot. The police who probed the duo say that they revealed that they had planned on killing Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi and even went up to the extent of saying that the funding was coming in from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba for the same. Intelligence Bureau officials add that while a person like Modi has always been high up on the list of these terrorists, it would however not be an easy operation. Moreover they would be weighing the pros and cons at least a million times before they even attempt something to this effect taking into consideration the after effects.
The interrogation of Mohammad Abrar Khan goes on to state that the IM was planning on assassinating the judges who delivered the verdict in the Ayodhya case. This was however taken very seriously and the security for these judges was beefed up. The judges have always been on the hit list and the police have always ensured that security around them has always been very tight. The police interrogating them say that they found this to be a golden opportunity to make a statement as they feel that the verdict has gone against the members of their community. Moreover they have picked on a very emotive issue and in case they succeeded they would have managed to garner a lot of support from a section of the people who have been voicing in their concerns. In addition to this the Babri issue is not something that has had a relevance only in India. All the major recruitment’s that take place across Asia have quoted this incident while roping in the cadres.
The interrogation of Aqeel Khilji and Mohammed Zaffar Hussain Qureshi went on to reveal that they were not only attempting the assassination of Mohan Bhagwat, but had also targeted a few leaders from the RSS.
The IM has always through its emails after an attack have claimed to be the saviours of Islam and they believe that the leaders mentioned above pose a danger to their religion. They also believe that some of these leaders have been directly responsible inciting tension against members of their community and hence assassinating them would go a long way in their fight.
The IM has off late been facing a recruitment crisis. Recruitment’s into such terror outfits are largely dependent on the issues they espouse and also the type of operations that they undertake. The blasts which have taken place recently have not managed to create a big impact and many possible new recruits may have shied away from joining the group. The manner in which some have been brainwashed have made them question the impact of the operation and they feel that unless there is something very big planned they would not like to be part of the group. Moreover they also feel that getting killed or arrested for small operations has not been worthwhile.
During the questioning these operatives have consistently thrown the name of Riyaz Bhatkal while stating that he has been the man who wanted the IM to take up assassinations in a big way. However there is nothing to show that Riyaz has been managing the IM off late as he has already fled the country. These appear to be coordinated by the local modules in India and there are many small groups of the IM who have been trying to come together and stage a major operation, IB sources also pointed out.
Sources say that targeting the big leaders in the RSS or similar organisations may not be an easy job as it does require a great deal of planning and precision, something that the IM lacks at the moment. However they would try and get as close as possible and at least create a shake up which would go a long way in conveying a message.
The IB points out that one cannot take the IM lightly as they appear to be down at the moment. They are known for their patience and are capable of planning an operation for many years before even trying to execute it. However at the moment and going by these interrogation reports of these persons it does become evident that the outfit is aiming more at an assassination plot which would be followed up by a couple of small time blasts, the police also add.
While on one hand the Indian Mujahideen has been attempting to regroup, on the other hand, Pakistan based terror groups have increased the focus on Gujarat. Police officials and Intelligence Bureau officials confirmed that there has been excessive activity in Gujarat and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad have been planning on assasinating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The past couple of weeks have seen a series of arrests. First six operatives of the Indian Mujahideen were picked up and then two Pakistani spies were also arrested. The arrest of Karachi based Soofia and Imran have led to a stockpile of information. After the arrest and during interrogation the duo revealed that they were in India at the behest of the ISI and their brief in specific was to get as much information on Modi so that they could lay out a plan to assasinate him.
Modi has been on the list of every terrorist organisation for quite sometime and intelligence agencies say that they have found plans being hatched to kill him by almost every terrorist that they have interrogated. Modi is a subject matter of discussion in every school of gate run by the jihadis. There are videos, scriptures and many such material on him which are used while recruitments are taking place.
Soofia and Imran during their interrogation pointed out that apart from the plan on Modi they were also asked to select and survey other targets in Gujarat. They said that the ISI had been planning a very big operation in Gujarat. However they did not provide more information and the police feel that the extent of their brief was only limited to this.
Another factor that came to light was that the ISI was using Nepal as a launch pad for operations in Gujarat. The ISI despite so much pressure still finds the Nepal base and route the easiest to operate from. Both Soofia and Imran were sent to Nepal from Karachi a couple of months back. They were then sent to Gujarat where they were told to undertake the job. They managed to get away initially without being noticed as they had no past record on them. However their movements during their India raised a suspicion following which they were picked up.
The police state that the duo were however not sent in to assasinate the Gujarat Chief Minister. Their job was specific to logistics. They have picked up some information but not to the extent the ISI would have expected. Moreover they have not been able to share much of the information as they were nabbed right in time, the IB and police pointed out. The other bit of information available is that the two of them did not belong to one particular outfit. They were working for the ISI and the agency in turn would have assigned the job of execution either to the Lashkae of JeM.
The interrogation of the six Indian Mujahideen operatives too has led to similar information. Most of them spoke about rebuilding the defunct IM module in Gujarat. They said that their modules were busted a great deal after the Ahmedabad blasts and the entire focus was to rebuild in that state. However they were exploring the option of setting stronger modules in the neighbouring states and use it as a launch pad in Gujarat.