Is the IM dead now? NO

terpic1Can 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.

Continue reading “Is the IM dead now? NO”

A ban at last- The IM story

“… Here we are back – the Mujahideen of India – the terrorists on the disbelievers – the radicals of Islam – after our triumphant and successful assault at Jaipur, once again calling you all, who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad to accept Islam and bear witness that there is none to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Accept Islam and save yourselves.

This is just one of the mails that was sent out by the Indian Mujahideen prior to the deadly Gujarat blasts which wrecked havoc. Today the Indian Mujahideen, probably one of India’s deadliest home grown terror outfit has been banned and sanctions slapped by the United States of America. It has today been designated as a foreign terror outfit since it maintains close links with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other Pakistan based outfits.

The Indian Mujahideen was designed in a manner to carry out attacks on Indian soil and more importantly all its cadres were of Indian origin. It was a perfect ploy by the ISI to ensure that terror attacks continued unabated in India without a finger being pointed at Pakistan. Today Indian Intelligence agencies and other police wings welcome the decision by the US to designate the IM as a foreign terror outfit. It is an extremely important decision since today the top leadership of the IM is not in India. Riyaz Bhatkal, Yaseen Bhatkal, Amir Reza Khan(only one of Pakistan origin), Abdus Subhan, Assadullah Akthar and a few others are all out of the country. The Indian agencies were finding it extremely difficult to apprehend these persons thanks to international laws and today with the US slapping sanctions, the job becomes easier. There are a large number of the IM operatives who are settled in the Gulf and this move by the US would make it easier to bring them down to India. However a concern that would always remain is regarding some of the cadres who are at Pakistan and no international law is good enough when it comes to dealing with that country, IB officials point out.

The US move has also given Indian agencies another reason to smile about. Although the ISI had been claiming that the IM is an outfit born and brought up in India, the US order also makes it clear that this outfit has direct links with the Lashkar. This only vindicates India’s stand that any act of terror in India has the blessings of Pakistan based outfits.

The Inception: It is a well known fact that the Indian Mujahideen is just an off shoot of the banned Student’s Islamic Movement of India. In fact it could be termed as the radical SIMI. Almost the entire leadership were part of the SIMI at one point in time. Abdus Subhan himself was a magazine editor when he was in SIMI. Riyaz too was connected with the SIMI as an activist before he decided to become part of the core committee of the IM. The first time that the IM came to the limelight was during the court blasts at Uttar Pradesh in 2007. Although a mail was sent out claiming responsibility for the attacks, no one really took the IM seriously. However what followed was a spate of attacks later. The Jaipur bombings of 2008 is when the IM actually made its entry into the big world of terror. A chilling mail which was sent out after the attack is what made everyone sit up and take notice of this outfit.

After this there were a series of attacks and the infamous operation Bangalore Ahmedabad Delhi or Operation BAD was carried out. The mails that were sent out following those attacks only went to show the kind of arrogance that this group operated with. In fact the mails were more of a challenge and the mail during the Ahmedabad blasts was sent out five minutes prior to the blast. Some in the IB says that it is this arrogance which did them in finally and today they find themselves on a very weak footing.

Acts of terror:

Uttar Pradesh court blasts of 2007 November

Jaipur bombing of May 2008

Bangalore serial blasts on July 25 2008

Ahmedabad bombings on July 26 2008

Delhi bombings of 13 September 2008

Pune bombings of 2010

Jama Masjid Attack of 2010

Varanasi bombing of 2011

The 13/7 blasts (yet to be verified by the police)

Bombay serial blasts-2008

Top Leadership:

Amir Reza Khan of Pakistan who is the only non Indian in the outfit is considered to be the founder of the group. Originally from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, he was a faithful commander and was later handed over the responsibility of setting up this outfit.

Safdar Nagori is another man associated with this outfit. Although he is credited with establishing the radical SIMI, it is said that larger plan hatched by him was to be part of the IM. However before the outfit could take shape he was arrested.

Riyaz Bhatkal who is still elusive was one of the key members of the organization. Hailing from the coastal Bhatkal town he is said to be one of the first members of the outfit. Today however there is a lurking doubt whether he is alive or not. Although some gangster had claimed to have eliminated him, there is absolutely no confirmation what so ever regarding his death.

Abdus Subhan who was originally a magazine editor in the SIMI became a central figure of the outfit. He is said to have set up the technical cell of the IM which eventually hacked into un secured wifi networks and sent out mails. Although those who knew him say way too much has been made out of his capabilities, Indian agencies believe that he is a crucial character in the outfit. Today Subhan is said to be hiding in Pakistan.

Mansoor Peerbhouy is today under arrest. He however could be credited with setting up the technical wing under the guidance of Subhan. A techie who worked with several reputed companies, he in fact after his arrest gave the police all the answers regarding the manner in which the IM mailing system worked.

The downfall:

Basically what the IM did was irk the police no end. All their mails and communication always took a dig at the police and the slogan was clear, “ catch us if you can.” The police did raise the bar and if one notices the manner in which the IM has been handled in the past two years one could say that they were hunted down. The real turning point was however the Batla House encounter. In a major battle between the Delhi police and some boys alleged to be IM members, it was the police who had the final say. However there is a great deal of controversy surrounding this encounter and many cry foul stating that it was fake. While this was the downfall of the IM some feel that this could be one of the biggest excuses on which they would plot their come back as well.

The restructuring:

This is something that has been worrying agencies no end. There has been a slump for the moment, but the fact that the top leadership is still elusive gives out worrying signals. The recruitment drive as of now is very slow. It is hard to say whether this is the correct picture or is it just a ploy to keep the heat at bay. Very slow movement has been witnessed especially in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi and also Pune. Although there is nothing significant the police are not taking chances. There are still several members who are out straying and they have been coming together and carrying out smaller attacks. In addition to this there are also several intercepts to show that the top leadership is very much in touch with groups such as the Lashkar and are planning a come back. It may not happen anytime soon, but they will surely make an attempt, a police officer said.

Delhi blasts-why is there a mailing spree on?

It is a perfect ploy that has been adapted by these terrorist groups. A third email has been sent out in three days after the Delhi blasts and this gives a clear indication that the intention is to confuse investigating agencies.
There is a bit insanity in the manner in which this case is being probed today. Every theory has wrong till date. The get away car which they thought was the vehicle of terror turned out to be stolen car and had nothing to do with the crime. Secondly the sketches which were drawn out in a hurry turned out to be wrong images according to the NIA. This has now prompted them to put out a new sketch. The interrogation of the various men who have been picked up till date in connection with the blast is moving at a very slow pace. These are just suspects and investigating agencies say that they are looking for leads from them although prima facie it does not appear they were directly connected with the crime.
The email culture after a blast which was made famous by the Indian Mujahideen was once a weapon for the police. However today it has become a nightmare since it is taking the police a step backward. On day one they were on the HuJi trail based on the mail. The mail clearly states that the judiciary would be under attack and that was the theory that they were working on. The probe did go in one particular direction and some members of the HuJi were even picked up.
The second day however there was another mail that was sent out which took the NIA into another spin and they started to explore the IM angle since this mail was alleged to have been sent by the outfit. Just when this angle was being probed there came another mail today which speaks about carrying out an attack in Ahmedabad.
What such mails tend to do is throw the investigating agency off guard and the resources are more about safeguarding the city. Moreover despite the IM being down today, the police have learnt from the Ahmedabad blasts experience where a mail was sent out a couple of minutes before the attack warning about the blasts.
The IM had the most sophisticated technical cell and they used technology to their advantage. They played the cat and mouse game with the police very well with the police and did manage success to a large extent. The likes of Mansoor Pheerbhoy may be arrested and Abdus Subhan absconding, but that it not good enough to say that they technical cell has been busted. There are many more boys who are out on the lose who are capable of sending such mails bouncing them off proxy servers.
Sources in the investigating team say that this is the third mail till date and it cannot be merely dismissed as mischief. Whoever is sending them out has a motive behind it and it could all have been sent from one place while bouncing them off servers of different places. A mischief monger may not take such a big risk of dealing with a case of terrorism knowing fully well what the consequences are. Although the person sending out the mail may not have anything to do with the attack, he would be still interested in sending it out to confuse the investigators. A couple of boys from the IM are capable of this since they would be trying to send out a message that they are still active. Although they may have not carried out this attack they would still want to show that they are in business. The NIA is in touch with Google for more details on the mail and are expecting some answers in the next couple of days.
The probe today is centric around these mails since the police believe that there could be more to it. Apart from trying and finding out the origins, they would also study the pattern. For starters it does not appear to be a typical mail that an IM would send out. However one cannot rule out the possibility of a change in strategy, investigating authorities also pointed out.