Q+A – Who could be behind the Mumbai attacks and why?

27 11 2008

Source Reuters

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Militants armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked luxury hotels, hospitals and a famous tourist cafe in India’s commercial capital Mumbai late on Wednesday, killing at least 101 people.

* WHO IS BEHIND THE ATTACKS?

Witnesses say the attackers were young South Asian men speaking Hindi or Urdu, suggesting they are probably members of an Indian militant group rather than foreigners.

The attacks were claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen in an e-mail to news organisations. Deccan is an area of southern India.

Analysts say that while it is not clear whether the claim is genuine, the attacks were most likely carried out by a group called the Indian Mujahideen. The name used in the claim of responsibility suggests the attackers could be members of a south Indian offshoot or cell of the Indian Mujahideen.

* WHO ARE THE INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN?

Indian police say the Indian Mujahideen is an offshoot of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but that local Muslims appear to have been given training and backing from militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh.

SIMI has been blamed by police for almost every major bomb attack in India, including explosions on commuter trains in Mumbai two years ago that killed 187 people.

Police said the Indian Mujahideen may also include former members of th Bangladeshi militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami.

* WHY ARE THEY SUSPECTED OF BEING BEHIND THE MUMBAI ATTACKS?

In an e-mail to various media in September, the group denounced Mumbai’s police anti-terrorist squad, accusing them of harassing Muslims.

“If this is the degree your arrogance has reached, and if you think that by these stunts you can scare us, then let the Indian Mujahideen warn all the people of Mumbai that whatever deadly attacks Mumbaikars will face in future, their responsibility would lie with the Mumbai ATS and their guardians,” it said.

The Indian Mujahideen have made credible claims of responsibility for most of the recent major attacks on civilian targets in India over the past two years.

The Mumbai attacks appear to have been carefully co-ordinated, well-planned and involved a large number of attackers. A high level of sophistication has also been a hallmark of previous attacks by the Indian Mujahideen.

The Mumbai attacks also focused clearly on tourist targets, including two luxury hotels and a famous cafe.

In May, the Indian Mujahideen made a specific threat to attack tourist sites in India unless the government stopped supporting the United States in the international arena.

The threat was made in an e-mail claiming responsibility for bomb attacks that killed 63 people in the tourist city of Jaipur. The e-mail, signed by “Guru Al-Hindi”, declared “open war against India” and included the serial number of one of the bicycles on which the bombs were left.

Witnesses in Mumbai say the attackers in Mumbai singled out Americans and Britons in their attacks.

* WHAT OTHER ATTACKS HAVE INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN CARRIED OUT?

The group first emerged during a wave of bombings in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in November 2007, sending an e-mail to media outlets just before some of the bombs exploded.

Their next attacks were the Jaipur blasts.

On July 25, eight small bomb attacks in the IT city of Bangalore on July 25 that killed at least one person and wounded 15. There was no known claim of responsibility.

But a day later, at least 16 bombs exploded in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, killing 45 and wounding 161. Shortly before the blasts, an e-mail in the name of the Indian Mujahideen was sent to local media warning that people would soon “feel the terror of death” in the name of Allah.

It said the attacks were revenge for the Gujarat riots of 2002, when around 2,500 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by Hindu mobs. A later e-mail accused several state governments of harassing, imprisoning and torturing Muslims and threatened consequences if they did not stop.

In September, at least five bombs exploded in crowded markets and streets in New Delhi, killing at least 18 people.

The Indian Mujahideen sent out an e-mail moments after the first blast in New Delhi, saying the explosions were to prove its capability to strike in the most secure of Indian cities.

* WHAT WAS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE MUMBAI ATTACKS?

All previous incidents in which the Indian Mujahideen are suspected of involvement involved co-ordinated serial bombs.

The Mumbai attacks also show clear signs of co-ordination but were carried out by gunmen, some carrying grenades.

The tactics — a military-style assault on soft targets, singling out foreigners, and taking hostages — are rare and do not fit the usual methods of militant attacks on civilian areas.

However, similar attacks have been carried out before, notably the May 2004 attacks in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar.

Gunmen attacked two oil industry installations and a foreign workers’ housing complex in the city, taking more than 50 hostages and killing 22 of them. The attackers asked hostages whether they were Christian or Muslim before deciding whom to kill.





‘In future, we will see more Indian faces of terror’

1 11 2008

October 29, 2008


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Source: REDIFF

With the arrest of a Sadhvi and her alleged accomplices for their alleged involvement in the Malegaon blast, the term Hindu terrorism has got new meaning.

Maloy Krishna Dhar, a former joint director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau, has studied terrorism in-depth for many years. He has written several books on Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and Bangladesh sponsored terrorism. Dhar took time off to speak with rediff.com‘s Vicky Nanjappa about the new trends in terrorism and also about the spate of incidents that have rocked this country in the past couple of years.

What are your views on the eye for an eye attitude of some Hindu outfits?

Newton’s third law (for every action there will be an equal and opposite reaction) has started taking effect. We need to find out the extent to which the Hindu mind is being influenced especially when everyone is flashing what the minorities have had to say. Yes I would say that the mentality is growing and it sure is scary. I think it is time to look beyond the Bharatiya Janata Party and other saffron outfits and think of Hindus as a whole, and see up to what extent they are being influenced.

Sir do you endorse these views?

Definitely not. I have always been saying that people should have faith in the system and try and rectify problems in a democratic manner. I am trying to moderate the system. It is very important to have the Muslims with us. We need to moderate their views too.

What are your views on the Malegaon incident in which a Sadhvi was arrested?

No one is saying anything clearly. What is happening is that the Muslims allege that they are being maligned. Now parties which depend on the Muslim vote are finding it difficult to secure those votes. Another fact is that the BJP and its allies seem to be on a better footing to face the forthcoming elections. Hence it seems as though this is an attempt to reflect terror on the BJP. Let the noise regarding this case settle down and then the truth will come out.

There are allegations that former IB and military officials trained some Hindu activists to carry out blasts. What do you have to say about this?

This is blatant falsehood and bunkum. The IB has no expertise in bomb making. Some military personnel may have knowledge regarding this. But tell me is it necessary for someone to train when all the information is so easily available on the internet. These are just allegations which have not been proven.

You have written and spoken about the presence of ISI cells in India. Despite both the IB and the police claiming to be making inroads how is it that such cells continue to function and carry out blasts at will.

The ISI cells and its modules cannot be fully unearthed. There are several reasons for this. Whenever the IB or the police go for action, a hue and cry is raised by human rights groups and the so-called secularists. Political parties are weak and they end up falling back on the support of the minorities. Electoral considerations are another reason for not being able to unearth all the cells. In our country the police are under the ruling party and unless a free hand is given there is very little chance of making headway completely. Although the IB is an old and efficient organisation, their strength in terms of man power is not sufficient. We also need is an IB which will not go by the orders of the political parties.

What about the participation of the people while gathering intelligence?

Yes that is very important. Collaboration between the people and security agencies is required and this should include the Muslim community too. The Muslim community needs to know that being inspired by Pakistan is bad for them.

What are your views on the latest instances of terrorism and the birth of the Indian Mujahideen [Images]?

It is a new name that’s it. The Students Islamic Movement of India could not possibly function under its own name once it was banned and hence it became the Indian Mujahideen. Basically the IM has the people from the same resource pool.

What do you have to say about the new age terrorist who is educated and tech savvy?

As I said before, the IM has the people from the same resource pool of SIMI [Images]. SIMI always had a pool of educated people.

Do you think that the Mumbai and Gujarat police have cracked the entire IM module?

They are making headway for sure. But getting leads is one thing and connecting it is another. Once the leads are connected, one could say that they have succeeded completely. As of now what I see is just newspaper investigation and PR work by the police to show that they are doing some work.

There is a hue and cry about the Jamia Nagar encounter, but the Delhi [Images] police maintain that this incident helped them crack the case. What are your views on the same?

Whenever such an act takes place there is bound to be a hue and cry. I would say that the operation is genuine but would also like to add that it should have been done in a better way. Encounter is a science and should be undertaken in such a manner that none can raise a finger.

We see that Jihad is becoming more home-bred. Why do you think this has happened?

It is not exactly correct to say this. It is only now that we are getting to see a more Indian face to this. It just shows that both Pakistan and Bangladesh have succeeded in creating modules in India. In the coming years we will get to see more Indian faces. The need of the hour is to eliminate these modules.

Terror has travelled south. Karnataka and Kerala [Images] have become hotbeds for recruitment and training. Did the IB see this coming?

I have shouted and screamed about this in the past. I had given a talk at the Indian Institute of Science two years back where I mentioned that several areas in both Karnataka and Kerala had several modules. But at that time no one believed me. However now everyone seems to be waking up to the problem.

Lastly please rate the states which have coped best with terror.

Well, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat have dealt best with the problem. Kerala has just woken up, Tamil Nadu is yet to wake up, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh [Images] are waking up.





Assam blasts and More blasts: Chronology

30 10 2008

Watch BBC Video

Watch IBNLIVE video

Source: Reuters

A chronology of some of the major attacks in India in the past five years:

March 13, 2003 – A bomb attack on a commuter train in Mumbai kills 11 people.

Aug 25, 2003 - Two car bombs kill about 60 in Mumbai.

Aug 15, 2004 - A bomb explodes in the northeastern state of Assam, killing 16 people, mostly schoolchildren, and wounding dozens.

Oct 29, 2005 - Sixty-six people are killed when three blasts rip through markets in New Delhi.

March 7, 2006 – At least 15 people are killed and 60 wounded in three blasts in the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi.

July 11, 2006 – More than 180 people are killed in seven bomb explosions at railway stations and on trains in Mumbai that are blamed on Islamist militants.

Sept 8, 2006 – At least 35 people are killed in a series of explosions, including one near a mosque, in Malegaon town, 260 km (160 miles) northeast of Mumbai.

Feb 19, 2007 - Two bombs explode aboard a train heading from India to Pakistan; at least 66 passengers, most of them Pakistanis, burn to death.

May 18, 2007 – A bomb explodes during Friday prayers at a historic mosque in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing 11 worshippers. Police later shoot dead five people in clashes with hundreds of enraged Muslims who protest against the attack.

Aug 25, 2007 – Three coordinated explosions at an amusement park and a street stall in Hyderabad kill at least 40 people.

May 13, 2008 – Seven bombs rip through the crowded streets of the western city of Jaipur, killing at least 63 people in markets and outside Hindu temples.

July 25 – Eight small bombs hit the IT city of Bangalore, killing at least one woman and wounding at least 15.

July 26 - At least 16 small bombs explode in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, killing 45 people and wounding 161. A little-known group called the “Indian Mujahideen” claims responsibility for the attack and the May 13 attack in Jaipur.

Sept 13 – At least five bombs explode in crowded markets and streets in the heart of New Delhi, killing at least 23 people and injuring more than 100. The Indian Mujahideen again claim responsibility.

Oct 30 – Eleven bomb blasts in quick succession rip through the main city of India’s troubled northeastern Assam state and three other towns, killing at least 39 people and wounding 210.





If cops had played the waiting game… Vicky Nanjappa

13 10 2008

October 13, 2008 13:49 IST
Source: rediff

While the Mumbai police claim they have achieved a major breakthrough following the arrests of several youth, allegedly belonging to the Indian Mujahideen [Images], the fact remains that all the security agencies in the country have let the real mastermind, Abdul Subhan, alias Tauqueer slip out of the country.

The narco analysis test conducted on Mohammad Sami [Images], a close aide of Subhan indicates that the police would have had Subhan in their net had they delayed Sami’s arrest by two days.

Sami, who was picked up by the Karnataka police in the third week of September in connection with the Bangalore serial blasts, was subject to a narco analysis test last week.

During his narco analysis Sami said he was supposed to meet Subhan in a place at North Karnataka two days before he was arrested. IB sources say police may have rushed through the arrest of Sami. Had they waited two more days, they could have picked up Subhan, who was to meet Sami.

The IB also says that they had specific information that Sami would meet Subhan in Bijapur. However, Subhan managed to give the slip and flee the country following the arrest of Sami, the IB says.

The narco analysis conducted on Sami further reveals that he was present in Bangalore a few days before and also on the day the Bangalore blasts were executed. He, however, said (during the test) that he had absolutely no idea that Subhan was planning on carrying out blasts in the city.

Sami, in an interview with rediff.com, too had stated that he was unaware of the activities of Subhan.

Sami further reveals that Subhan had called him and asked him to send specific details about a few locations in Bangalore. These were the locations where the bombs finally went off on that dreaded day in Bangalore.

Sami repeatedly said that he was unaware of Subhan’s plan and being close to him he was only carrying out orders. He also said that he had visited the landmark Forum Mall in Bangalore and collected details regarding the same and passed it on to Subhan.

Further, he also collected the telephone numbers and email ids of various SIMI [Images] members and passed it on to Subhan. Sami also said that Subhan was a smart operator. Every time he called, he never revealed the location from where he was calling. All he said was that he wanted to meet up and he used to fix the date and location of the meeting.

Even after the blasts at Bangalore, Subhan had called Sami and told him to meet him in Bijapur. However, two days before they were supposed to meet, Sami was arrested. Subhan then got wind of the fact that he was being hunted and then decided on fleeing the country.

This means that Subhan was very much present in India even after the execution of the Delhi [Images] blasts.

With Sami denying knowledge of the Bangalore blasts, it seems as though the police will have to dig deeper to find the culprit. While it is certain that Subhan played the main role in the Bangalore blasts, Sami will be interrogated further for details on activities of SIMI.

At present he is being held under the following charges — he was a member of the outlawed SIMI; he was in touch with Subhan and; despite the ban on SIMI he organised several meetings for the banned organization.





Terror funds came from Gulf, routed through banks, hawala and money transfer channels

11 10 2008

Express News Service Posted: Oct 09, 2008 at 0220 hrs IST

Mumbai, October 8 Cops freeze bank accounts from which IM members withdrew money

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Wednesday revealed that it has frozen a certain number of bank accounts in the city from which money was withdrawn by some of the alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) members. According to the police, the IM operatives had been receiving money from Gulf countries through these accounts for the past two years. This is apart from what they had been receiving through the hawala network and the Western Union Money Transfer.

“During interrogations, some of the arrested accused told us that they used to withdraw money from some bank accounts in the city, following which we have frozen the accounts. They are savings accounts in nationalised banks and are in the names of some individuals. Since 2006, money was being deposited by people in Gulf countries and was being withdrawn in small amounts by the IM members. A total of Rs 26 lakh was sent from Gulf countries through proper banking channels to these accounts,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria, refusing to divulge further details or the number of accounts frozen.

The Crime Branch has already seized Rs 11.36 lakh in cash from the IM members arrested from Mangalore.

A dedicated team of Crime Branch officers is focussing on the funding received by the IM members, and are investigating the manner in which money was sent to them via hawala and money transfer channels. “If it is found that the people who are holding these accounts were actively helping the IM operatives in receiving funds from outside the country, they will also be booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for aiding and abbetting,” said Maria.





Terror attacks in Indi and analysis : India today

5 10 2008

Source: India today

The emerging leadership – I

Based on interrogations and follow-up investigations, this is the leadership structure of Indian Mujahideen:

Abdus Subhan Qureshi Alias Tauqeer, 36: Now the most wanted man in India. A software engineer from Mumbai, he worked for a leading computer firm before he joined SIMI and took to jihadi activity. He also worked as the editor of two radical Islamic magazines called Movement and Shaheen Times. An expert in bomb-making and author of the virulent e-mails that precede every bomb blast by the Indian Mujahideen, Tauqeer is believed to have masterminded most of the blasts that have occurred in the past two years. He is an expert hacker.

Safdar Nagori, 38: Architect of past terror strikes and the transformation from SIMI to Indian Mujahideen. He broke from SIMI moderates three years ago to take it to the terror route. A former diploma engineer from Ujjain, Nagori has been the strongest votary of the home-grown Jihadi movement.

Mufti Abu Bashir, 28: An Islamic preacher from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, who also taught in a madrasa in Hyderabad, he is one of the main ideologues of the Indian Mujahideen. Till his arrest, his role was to motivate youths for the jihadi cause. He supervised the planning of terror attacks along with Tauqeer and Qayamuddin Kapadia. Currently under arrest, he is totally unrepentant about killing innocents in the blasts.

Qayamuddin Kapadia, 28: A small-time trader of Vadodara, he heads the Gujarat unit. Absconding from the day Nagori was arrested, he was the main coordinator for the Ahmedabad blasts and planting bombs in Surat along with Sajid Mansuri. His role involved overseeing the purchase of bicycles and selecting the bomb sites. He is also believed to have played a key role in the Delhi blasts as a second-in-command to Tauqeer. Kapadia started the first-ever mosque of the Ahle Hadis Tanzeem (one of the two Wahhabi tanzeems) in Vadodara a few years ago.

Sajid Mansuri, 35: One of the oldest members of SIMI, he had managed to give the police a slip when the Surat police caught 123 SIMI activists in 2001. He was not only the coordinator for the Ahmedabad blasts and for planting bombs in Surat but took an active part in the Jaipur bomb blasts also. The bomb that went off opposite Hawa Mahal was placed by him. A graduate in psychology, Sajid worked as a marketing executive for some time before becoming active in SIMI. Currently under arrest.

The emerging leadership – II

Usman Agarbattiwala, 25: A PG diploma holder from Vadodara in human rights, Agarbattiwala played the most important role in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts. Pipe bombs resembling the ones which caused the Samjhauta Express blast were found from his home.

Alamzeb Afridi, 24: A jobless youth from Ahmedabad who became an Islamic radical at a young age, he was actively involved in both the Ahmedabad blasts and the Delhi blasts in which he is supposed to have assisted Tauqeer and Kapadia. Absconding now, he attended the terror training camp in Pavagadh jungles in May. He purchased bicycles and then planted them in Ahmedabad after tying bombs. The Gujarat Police managed to track his secret mobile phone in the capital on the day of the Delhi blasts at three of the four locations where bombs went off within 60 and 90 minutes prior to the blasts.

Abdul Razik Mansuri, 27: An embroidery unit owner, he had purchased and planted bomb-laden bicycles for blasts in Ahmedabad. His importance in SIMI can be gauged from the fact that he attended its Wagamon terror training camp in Kerala in December last year, where concrete terror plans had been chalked out. He is believed to have been involved with Afridi in executing the Delhi blasts.

Mujib Shaikh, 25: A stone polishing artisan who participated in all the meetings that were held to chalk out the Ahmedabad blasts and also in SIMI’s famous Pavagadh training camp last May. An absconder, he is believed to have assisted in the Delhi attack.

Zahid Shaikh, 27: A mobile phone repair shop owner from Ahmedabad and a matriculate, he played a key role in planning the Ahmedabad blasts. He too has attended SIMI’s training camp in the Wagamon jungles. His role was prominent in carrying out surveys of the spots where blasts had to be carried out.

Amil Parwaz: A native of Ujjain and a close aide of Nagori who was also caught in Indore. He was present in most of the training camps that SIMI organised across the country. He is believed to be involved in the court bomb blasts in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007. He was present in Varanasi when a blast took place in a city court.

Structure & roles

  • There is a core group of 12 leaders, of which the only known member is Tauqeer. The others operate from the shadows and intelligence sources say that they could be working on ISI orders. They believe in the same extremist (pure) form of Islam as bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
  • The largest group is codenamed Call of Islam. They are all over 35 years of age and number up to 60,000. They are spread across the country but are present in larger numbers in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala, besides Maharashtra. Many are preachers, teachers, professionals and educationists, who on the surface are law abiding citizens but issue instructions to those below them based on orders they get from the top leadership.
  • The group below them is called Ikhwan (brothers), which has 6,000 core members. They are mostly sleepers who are activated for a particular purpose and then left alone to resume their double identities.
  • Below them is a group of 550 members known as Ansars (helpers). All Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts accused, besides their leaders like Nagori, are Ansars. They not just plan attacks but also plant bombs and buy the raw material for these.
  • The next group is code-named “The White Falcon”. Their job is to enlist and indoctrinate children aged between five and 10 years in the jihadi cause.
  • Finally, there is the group codenamed Muslim Brotherhood. They play a vital role since their main function is to raise funds through hawala and other methods, largely using Muslims serving in the Gulf countries, and keep in contact with jihadi outfits. The body has reportedly enlisted some 10 lakh regular donors, a large number of them in the Gulf countries.

Easy targets

The 2007 Report on Terrorism by the National Counterterrorism Center in the US tracks terror strikes across the world and looks for trends and changes. The report says that “tracking attacks can help us understand some important trends, including the geographic distribution of incidents and information about the perpetrators and their victims.”

Year-to-year changes in the gross number of attacks across the globe, however, may say something about the international community’s effectiveness in preventing these incidents, and thereby reducing the capacity of terrorists to advance their agenda through violence against the innocent.

Approximately 14,000 terrorist attacks occurred in various countries during 2007, resulting in over 22,000 deaths. Compared to 2006, the attacks remained approximately the same in 2007, while deaths rose by 1,800, a 9 per cent increase from the previous year’s number.

As was the case in the previous two years, the largest number of reported attacks and deaths occurred in Near East and South Asia. These two regions accounted for about 87 per cent of the 355 casualty attacks, each of which killed 10 or more people. As the chart shows, India ranks fourth in the world in terms of the number of terror strikes, after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.






New insights into Indian Mujahideen network

2 10 2008

fPraveen Swami
Source: The Hindu
Also look at the List of faces of terror from NDTV


SIMI leaders provided the foundations for Ahmedabad operation

Most contentious part of network was a group of U.P. men centred around Atif Amin



NEW DELHI: India’s intelligence and police services now believe that the Indian Mujahideen is not a terror group, but a loose network of Islamist groups tied together by a common cause and ideological affiliation.

Based on a careful study of the mechanics of the July 26 serial bombings of Ahmedabad, investigators believe that the Indian Mujahideen is made up of three distinct elements: Students Islamic Movement of India volunteers, a group of Uttar Pradesh men with links to the Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami and the jihadist-linked crime cartel of jailed mafioso Aftab Ansari.

SIMI foundations

Students Islamic Movement of India leaders — many of whom knew Ghauri and Husaini — provided the foundations for the Ahmedabad operation.

Key SIMI organiser Qayamuddin Kapadia, who has evaded arrest, led a team of Gujarat-based volunteers who provided the local knowledge critical for the success of the operation.

Many members of this ring, whose key members included Usman Agarbattiwala and Sajid Mansuri, were drawn to the jihad by personal experiences of the Gujarat communal pogrom of 2002. For example, Imran Ibrahim Sheikh was forced to drop out of school when his mother — the family’s sole earning member — was injured in the violence.

SIMI had begun preparing itself for participation in the Indian Mujahideen offensive in December 2007, when an estimated 50 cadre participated in a jihad training camp held near Aluva, Kerala. In January 2008, another camp was held on the Pavagadh hills near Halol.

Several follow-up meetings were held, involving Kapadia, Islamist ideologue Mufti Abdul Bashar Qasmi, and Mumbai-based bomb-maker Mohammad Subhan Qureshi — the man who helped to knit the diverse elements of the Indian Mujahideen network together.

Assault team

But the most contentious part of the social network was a group of Uttar Pradesh men centred around Atif Amin — a Jamia Millia Islamia University student, who, the Delhi police say, commanded the most critical cell of the Indian Mujahideen.

Much of the police account emerged from the questioning of Mohammad Shakeel, who was pursuing a Master’s degree in economics, along with Jamia undergraduate Zia-ur-Rahman and New Delhi-based Sikkim Manipal University distance-learning student Saqib Nisar.

While the families and supporters of the three men insist they are innocent, the police claim they were key members of the Indian Mujahideen network.

According to the police, independent witnesses have confirmed that on August 11 the three men were aboard the Ashram Express from Delhi to Ahmedabad, where they and other members of Atif Amin’s team carried out a reconnaissance in preparation for the serial bombings.

Delhi police investigators say Amin at first told his group that the bombings were to be executed on July 19. However, three days before that day, he announced that the plan had been deferred, because the disassembled improvised explosive devices needed for the attacks were yet to arrive.

In fact, the police in Gujarat and Maharashtra now believe, the delay was most likely the outcome of problems faced by the Indian Mujahideen’s organised-crime affiliates in Mumbai.

Car bombs

Aftab Ansari’s key lieutenant Riaz Bhatkal, who is thought to have routed much of the finance for the Indian Mujahideen from Islamists in the Indian diaspora in West Asia, promised to provide three cars to be fitted with bombs. But Bhatkal-lined gangster Afzal Usmani was able to arrange for the theft of the three vehicles used as car bombs in Ahmedabad only on July 15. Usmani and his associates then drove the cars to Ahmedabad, where they were delivered to Amin early on July 17.

Later, Amin’s group assembled the bombs — manufactured at a still-unknown Indian Mujahideen factory that is believed to have been run near Mangalore in Karnataka — at a safe house in Ahmedabad’s Dani Limda area.

By this time, however, Shakeel had returned to Delhi, where he was scheduled to sit for an examination for his Master’s degree. He was, however, ordered to prepare a flat in New Delhi’s Jasola Vihar area, used by the Indian Mujahideen as a safe house, for the arrival of the 13-member assault team led by Amin which returned to the Capital on July 27.

With much of the Indian Mujahideen’s top leadership still at large, it is still unclear just who thought up its name — but investigators say it is likely that its inspiration lay in earlier efforts to build up an indigenous, pan-India jihadist network.

In the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Mujahideen Islam e-Hind — or the Indian Mujahideen of Islam — led by Mohammad Tufail Husaini bombed a series of trains. Andhra Pradesh-based Mohammad Azam Ghauri, one of the co-founders of the Lashkar’s pan-India operations, later set up the Indian Muslim Mohammadi Mujahideen, which carried out several bombings in 1999.








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