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'Freelance jihad' the latest headache for probe agencies

October 25, 2011 16:28 IST

Disconnected terror attacks make the subsequent probe tougher for investigators, as they often don't find a pattern to crack the case, says Vicky Nanjappa

'Freelance' or 'outsourced jihad', a relatively new concept in terrorism, was first witnessed in India after the blasts in Varanasi and Mumbai this year.

The blast near the Delhi high court has confirmed the investigators' fears that 'freelance jihad' may set a trend for future terror acts.

Waseem Malik, an accused in the Delhi blast, was initially believed to be an operative of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. But the National Investigation Agency, which is probing the case, soon realised that though Malik followed the JeM's ideology, he didn't have a direct link with the terror outfit.

But the details of the Delhi terror plot remain murky. Some intelligence reports had initially suggested that the blast was carried out jointly by the Babbar Khalsa International and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

"We have strong leads and we will shortly crack the case," say NIA investigators, refusing to divulge further details.

Speaking about Malik's interrogation, sources in the NIA say that Malik had traveled to Bangladesh and then Delhi to meet like-minded youth, who finally carried out the strike.

Malik may be the mastermind of the Delhi high court blast, according to initial reports.

The terrifying trend of 'freelance jihad' has led to the creation of splinter groups, which add to the woes of the probe agencies.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that these 'terrorists' subscribe to the ideology of a particular organisation and carry out a blast in its name. In most cases, the terror groups are not even aware of the existence of these men, but they don't mind their destructive activities.

This trend started in Kerala with T Nasir, the main accused in the Bangalore blast, and is now spreading across India. Individuals who believed in the ideology of the Indian Mujahideen carried out attacks in Varanasi and Delhi, say sources,

Though terror outfits provide neither material nor financial support to these men, they have no qualms about their name being used by individual operators. With the right connections, procuring ammunition to assemble the explosive is also not very tough for these operators.

As long as someone is wreaking havoc in India, terror groups have no qualms about their name being used. Such disconnected terror attacks make the subsequent investigation tougher for investigators, as they often don't find a pattern.

Malik, the arrested accused in the Delhi high court case, is a medical student from Kashmir. He was reportedly an admirer of Afzal Guru and even mentioned the Parliament attack accused in the mail sent out after the blast.

He told interrogators that he felt strongly about the Kashmir issue and wanted to do something about the prevalent injustice in the state.

Malik gradually started to believe that the people of Kashmir had borne the brunt of draconian laws for too long and jihad was the only way out.
Malik is not an isolated case, believe IB officials, as probes into recent terror attacks suggest that a gradual programme of radicalisation is going on across India.

Investigators initially believed that the terror strikes in Varanasi, Mumbai and Delhi were connected with each other. But it is clear today that these attacks were carried out by individuals and the trend of 'freelance jihad' may continue.

Vicky Nanjappa