IM – The new face of terror
Ritesh K Srivastava
Almost a week after terror struck India’s commercial capital and claimed the lives of at least eighteen people, the probe agencies (NIA, Maharashtra ATS and Crime Branch etc) are still groping in the dark, and are clueless about the real perpetrators. So far no terrorist outfit has taken responsibility of the multiple blasts in Mumbai, making the job of our investigators extremely difficult.
Based on investigations, the forensic evidence (gathered from the blasts sites about the modus operandi, nature and the devices used) and the stark resemblance to some previous blasts, the investigators are suspecting the involvement of Indian Mujahideen (IM), underworld and some outsider in the tragedy.
However, they are still not sure (or that they just don’t want to openly reveal) as to whom to blame for causing the bloodbath and taking so many innocent lives.
The delay or reluctance in the terror groups to claim responsibility of the latest attack in Mumbai is surprising and alarming at the same time. Surprising in the sense that terrorist organisations often justify their actions and shield themselves in pretext of a ‘cause’. No one would spill blood of innocent civilians on streets without any reason.
Alarming in the sense that their (terrorists) refusal to take the blame for the blasts is contrary to the general perception that the terrorists are always publicity hungry and so seek greater attention of the world to highlight the ‘cause’ for which they are fighting through such activities.
However, in the case of recent Mumbai blasts, those responsible for it have given strong indications (by not coming to the forefront) that they are waging a proxy war for some external forces interested in creating unrest in India.
Importantly, if this theory gets proved in the later stages of the investigations into the triple blast, this would practically mean India faces a major challenge to its internal security.
Lending credence to this theory is an observation by the intelligence agencies that the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which went into complete hibernation post 26/11 attacks, has regrouped itself and established contacts with dreaded Pakistan-based outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba, ISI and the underworld.
Although, the increased international pressure due to a flurry of diplomatic activities post 26/11 forced terror outfits to contain their anti-India operations to some extent, it did not deter SIMI to re-organise itself in the name of Indian Mujahideen.
Inputs from intelligence agencies indicate that SIMI has in the recent past recruited agents aggressively, acquired more know-how, enhanced its capability to launch much bigger strikes and developed foreign contacts.
An assessment by former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval suggests that SIMI, which has so far confined itself to the role of ISI’s local agent in India and provided logistic support to it, is now coming out of its shell to unleash terror and mayhem in the country.
All this had happened due to the absence of stringent anti-terrorism laws, lack of consensus among political parties on issues of national interest, a comparatively weak security mechanism and India’s failure to use aggressively its diplomatic channels in making Pakistan more accountable for the terrorism emanating from its soil.
It is almost clear that IM is a front for SIMI - an organisation of some misguided youth, which thrives on hate-India ideology propounded by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for over past few decades. The activists of SIMI’s sleeper cells (terror modules) act as agents to help in the easy execution of ISI’s nefarious agenda in the pretext of waging an Islamic Jihad against India.
Although, SIMI today has no support system in India as most Indian Muslim organisations do not endorse or back its activities or ideologies, but its growing nexus with dreaded militant outfits like LeT and Taliban is posing a great threat to our security apparatus.
The reported nexus between the Taliban and the IM was recently unearthed by investigating agencies while following leads after the arrest of key IM operative Danish Riyaz in June this year.
Danish’s emails have divulged details of the former being in touch with four IM operatives and Haroon of Kolkata, having links with Taliban. Haroon’s emails have also revealed that ten people from India were to be sent to Pakistan and then Afghanistan for terror training.
The establishment here has reasons to worry in view of reports that IM founder Riaz Bhatkal, his brother Iqbal, 1993 Mumbai blasts suspect Tiger Menon and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim are still living in the safe sanctuaries provided to them by the ISI in Karachi’s Defense Housing Area.
Pakistan has time and again rejected reports about their presence on its soil, which has exposed its double standards in its war against terror.
The changed geo-political situation in the aftermath of 9/11 forced the ISI to bring a tactical shift in its strategy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. In order to save themselves from international criticism, they set their eyes on SIMI and slowly converted it into a terrorist organization fully controlled and funded by Pakistan’s spy agency.
However, contrary to ISI’s expectation, SIMI failed to launch a major strike in India and was never considered a match for LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) or other outfits. It remained inactive till 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008. India later proving the involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the gruesome attack compelled the ISI to rejuvenate SIMI so that it could be used for direct actions than their secondary role.
The July 13 attack in Mumbai is a firm pointer to this assertion that IM is being backed, financed and controlled by the ISI and its lieutenants spread across various locations in West Asia. The rechristened SIMI is fast emerging as a converging point for the ISI, organized crime syndicates and radical Muslim outfits to breed bad blood in India.
In the present context, the government needs to bring a POTA like law to deal with anti-national elements. Our fight against terrorism will reach its objectives only when there is a consensus among political parties and they demonstrate firm will power on all issues of national interest. The latest blasts in Mumbai must be taken seriously because any laxity on our part will cost us heavily and make our internal security more vulnerable to such attacks.
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