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IM's Gulf modules executed Varanasi blast

December 09, 2010 15:41 IST
An Interpol notice has been issued against Dr Mohammad Shahnawaz and Asadullah Akthar, the men who are believed to have executed the Varanasi bomb blast on Tuesday.

Even as investigations continue into the incident, all leads points towards the United Arab Emirates, where these men are based.

The Intelligence Bureau which has been providing inputs to the investigating agencies has indicated that Shahnawaz was in Sharjah --where the entire operation was planned and executed -- at the time of the attack.

Shahnawaz and Asadullah are believed to have planned the attacks along with the Bhatkal brothers -- Riyaz and Yaseen -- who shuttle between the UAE and Pakistan.

In the backdrop of these developments, it would be interesting to take a look at the chargesheet filed by the Bengaluru police against the Indian Mujahideen operatives in connection with the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts.

Sources say that the Chinnaswamy stadium and Varanasi blast were planned and executed by the same group and there is a clear message from both these incidents that the outfit is trying to re-group.

The chargesheet in the stadium blasts case makes a mention of key names and according to Intelligence Bureau sources, these are the men who will be crucial to the outfit in the future.

The names that find a mention in the chargesheet and who are also linked to the Varanasi blasts are Mousin Chaudhary, an operative from Hyderabad, Iqbal Bhatkal, Yaseen Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal, Asadullah Akhthar and Dr Shahnawaz.

These men were part of the core group of the IM and they have managed to give the police the slip following a massive crackdown.

Even though the IM has been demolished to a large extent in India, the presence and the resolve of these men will be worrying for the security agencies.

Intel agencies also point out that, Abdul Subhan -- the IM's most crucial operative -- is supposedly holed up in Pakistan. This man who was one of the members who first made the transition from the Students Islamic Movement of India to the IM has great organisng capabilities and cannot be written off easily.

In the stadium blasts case, the police recorded the statements of Salman alias Chotu who told  the cops about how active IM members were in Pakistan and the UAE. Salman spoke at length about the manner in which the Bhatkal brothers had helped him get in touch with operatives of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

During the conversations between Bhatkal and Salman, they often discussed about operations to be carried out in India and Salman was also told that the Inter-Services-Intelligence was keen on revamping the IM since they needed a powerful home grown terror outfit within India.

In addition to this, the investigations also pointed towards the UAE module and the ISI was keen that some of the operatives work out of the Gulf since they did not want too much evidence pointing towards Pakistan alone.

In addition to this, the ISI has also been looking to spruce up the Gulf modules since they feel that there are many sympathisers in the region, who will fund operations. Moreover the UAE is not high on the terror radar when compared to Pakistan and it is easier for these operatives to infiltrate into India.      

The IM's original plan was to carry out more terror strikes in Bengaluru and they were unhappy with the earlier incidents since it did not cause the desired effect. They had even talked about striking at the IT hubs in the city.

Sources point out that while they were planning a strike in Bengaluru, it dawned upon them a strike at Varanasi, which is in Uttar Pradesh was needed and had to be done in quick time.

The contents of the IM mail clearly indicate that they wanted to stress upon the Ayodhya verdict since it is the most emotive issue and the deposition of every terrorist held since 1993 mentions this incident and termed it as a motivation to enter the terror networks.

The IM was clearly lacking the local support and sympathy and hence thought that striking in a place like Uttar Pradesh would be the perfect manner to restart their Indian operations.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru