Millennium Post

Operation Indian Mujahideen

It seems that all the intelligence agencies in India have united to weed out the roots of the banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM). But with recent arrests of some of the top IM operatives, cracks and internal grudges within the agencies have surfaced, ensuing a cold war which has spilled out into the public sphere.

For about an year now, the agencies – including Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Delhi police Special Cell and Rajasthan Anti Terror Squad (ATS) – were working on a project called ‘Operation Indian Mujahideen’.

In the recent past, around 20 IM terrorists have been nabbed by these agencies in a year-long joint operation. The arrests includes the big catches like IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, operative Assadullah Akhtar, chief bomber Waqas, and commander Tehsin Akhtar.

Who are Indian Mujahideen
IM is a terrorist group that seeks to destabilise India and retaliate for the perceived mistreatment of Muslims in India. The outfit has carried out several attacks against civilian targets in the country. During police investigations, it was learnt that the group is a front for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

With financing, training, travel documents, logistics and operational support provided by Let and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), IM grew into a professional terrorist group that has killed more than 1,500 people and left around 3,000 injured in various terror attacks in India.

Origin of brand IM
It is yet to be ascertained that when was the group exactly formed. But some years after the terror strike at American Center in Kolkata in January 2002, the existence of IM was first detected. In 2005, the outfit got its name.

They called themselves ‘Indian Mujahideen’. The name was given by the media as the outfit used to send emails to mediapersons minute before the blasts. Before serial blasts in the cities of Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the group had emailed claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Randomly, one of the news channels gave a headline that said, ‘Indian Mujahideen responsible for the terror attacks.’ The sobriquet was liked by the Bhatkal brothers-- Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, founders of IM. They kept the name.

Till 2005, Indian police were unaware of the emergence of IM as a group and believed the attacks were executed by either LeT or Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HuJi). On 4 June 2010, IM was declared as a terrorist organisation and was banned by the government of India.

Deadliest Terror Strikes
Since 2002, IM has executed around 30 terror strikes in India. The major attacks include New Delhi Diwali blasts in October 2005, Varanasi serial blasts in March 2006, Mumbai train blasts in July 2006, Jaipur bombings in May 2008, Ahmedabad serial blasts in July 2008, Delhi serial bombings and Malegaon blasts in September 2008, Pune German bakery blast in February 2010, Varanasi bombing in December 2010, Mumbai Serial blast in July 2011, Pune twin blasts in August 2012, Hyderabad blasts in February 2013, Bangalore blast in April 2013, Bodh Gaya bombing in July 2013 and Patna serial blasts in October 2013.

It has been observed by the intelligence agencies that most of the recent blasts were carried out in the evening when the office goers are on their way back home. Also, the selection of the place where the terror strike is likely to be held is decided keeping in mind the maximum damage.

Recruitment and Training
The members of the terror outfit used to live in various parts of the country in search of Muslims who believe in Jihad. It means ‘to struggle in the way of Allah’. ‘Jihad is an obligation from God to his servants to establish Islamic society by saying that if anyone kills you, similarly you have the right to kill those persons,’ one of the recent arrested IM operative said while describing Jihad to the investigating officer. Motivational lectures are given to fight against other communities (who does not believe in Islam) for the triumph of their religion i.e Islam.

The arrested IM operative further adds, ‘we fight against disbelievers of God popularly known as Kafirs, because they want to implement manmade laws against Muslims.’

After the motivational classes are over, the selected members undergo arms and ammunition training. These trainings are carried out in Karnchi, Pakistan, the alleged headquarters of IM, where the members are trained how to use a G2 gun, AK-47 and INSAS rifles. Then they are given electronic and circuit making trainings, where they are taught six types of battery circuit making.

This course is followed by explosives training where the members learn the art of making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with locally available ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, potassium chloride and ammonium nitrate. In every training course the number of members constantly decrease depending upon their performance. At the end of each session, only 20-25 boys  manage to become IM operatives.

Top catches by Agencies

In the recent past around twenty IM operatives have been nabbed by all the investigation agencies. In March, Delhi police special cell and Rajasthan ATS with the inputs of intelligence agencies have busted another module of IM that was the Rajasthan Module, to target foreign tourists visiting the northwestern state.

Yasin Bhatkal
Mohammed Ahmed Sidibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal alias Zarar Siddibappa, was a resident of Karnataka. He was arrested by NIA in August 2013 from Indo-Nepal border near Motihari in Bihar. He was listed on the ‘NIA Most Wanted’ until his arrest was made after a six-year chase. Yasin Bhatkal was the co-founder of IM. His first encounter with terror occurred in Udupi while transporting ammonium nitrate in various parts of the country. In 2008 he moved to Dubai to assist his father’s business where he established contact with other disgruntled Muslims and went on to become one of India’s most dreaded terrorists.

Zia Ur Rehman, a Pakistani national, commonly known to anti terrorist agencies in India by his alias ‘Waqas’. This dreaded terrorist, exported by Pakistan based ISI and its protégé called IM, is wanted in a series of bombings carried out all over India along with his absconding associates.
Waqas was arrested by Delhi police special cell from Ajmer Railway Station.  National Investigation Agency had announced a bounty of Rs 10 lakhs on Waqas’s arrest. He is a chief bomb maker who used to give training to other IM operatives in making IEDs. Waqas was invovled in Mumbai serial blasts, Pune blasts, Hyderabad twin blasts, Patna blast, Jama Masjid shootout.

Assadullah Akhtar
Assadullah Akhtar alias Haddi was a close aide of Bhatkal who was arrested by NIA from Indo-Nepal border in August 2013. He was among top 12 IM terrorists listed as absconders by the investigation agencies. During investigating, he revealed that he ended up joining terror outfit Indian Mujahideen in 2008.

Tehsin Akhtar
Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, Indian Mujahideen (IM) commander was arrested by Delhi police Special cell from near Kakarvitta on the Indo-Nepal border. Tehsin has claimed 43 lives and left 253 injured in several terror strikes and he was the mastermind of Narendra Modi’s Patna rally blasts in October 2013.

Tehsin alias Monu, a resident of Samastipur was involved in the 2010 bombing at Varanasi’s Sheetla Ghat, Jama Masjid blast in Delhi, Mumbai serial blasts in Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar West, Pune low-intensity blasts in 2012, twin bombings in Hyderabad in 2013 and the Bodh Gaya blasts in 2013.

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