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K'taka arrests: Not terrorists but mafia-funded assassins

August 31, 2012 12:51 IST

The arrest of the 11 persons from Karnataka was precursor to something big that was in store.

Although the police have been associating the name of terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami with these youth, the investigations so far show that this was an independent group, which had a single point agenda -- to protect Islam and eliminate all those who appeared to be a threat to the religion.

While the news regarding a journalist and a scientist being among those arrested made it to headlines, the more important person in this network is Akram alias Yusuf.

A close look at Akram's background reveals a HuJI link, as he was said to be a close associate of Shahid Bilal, the HuJI commander from Hyderabad who was killed a year after the twin blasts in that city.

Akram, whose information was passed on by the Andhra Pradesh intelligence wing, is considered to be the leader of this gang and his job was to marshal the youth who believed strongly that their religion was under threat.

Akram had links with Bilal since 2004 and they had met a couple of times in Saudi Arabia.

While the Bengaluru Police claimed that the plot was to eliminate journalists and politicians in Karnataka, the bigger news is that there have been several calls found on Akram's phone indicating at a nationwide operation.

During the investigation it was revealed that Akram was upset with the manner in which some persons were depicting his religion. He wanted to target those persons who had shown Prophet Mohammad in poor light.

Akram, according to the intelligence, received funding from the underworld and had decided to set up forces in every state and target those tarnishing their religion.

They worked in a closed network while identifying like-minded persons who felt strongly about such issues. Even the hard disks that have been seized by the police have a lot of material regarding atrocities against Muslims and some of the youth who have been arrested spoke very often to colleagues about how the community and religion were always under threat.

While Akram sought to carry out executions with the help of the underworld, some of the youth who were working in high-profile positions were tasked with the job of providing data.

While the data regarding some politicians and journalists were provided, the final plan of assassination was not drawn up as yet. They were zeroing down on the targets and were to decide as to who had to be eliminated.

Akram will now be quizzed by the central agencies in order to find out whether he has set up similar groups in other states as well.

We have managed to bust the Karnataka module, but his call records are indicative that there were more such operations being planned in other parts of the country, sources say, adding that the group had a handler in Saudi Arabia with whom they used to liaison with and also seek funds as and when required.

The police say that they have been getting funds especially from the underworld apart from arms and ammunition to carry out their operations. Even the he pistols seized from them are not available in the local market.

As they have been found in possession of just pistols, investigators believe that the group was only focussing on assassinations.

'This is just the beginning of the investigation; there is more to find out,' say investigators.

'We believe that similar persons have been identified in the northern states as well. We are keeping a close watch of the kind of information that is being leaked out to such persons and are also ascertaining the content that many have stored in their computers and also the exact reasons behind it,' sources in the investigating agency also pointed out.

Considering the strong links that Akram had with Bilal and the fact that they are from Hyderabad has also increased the interest of the Andhra Pradesh police to find out if a similar group was functioning in their state as well.

It is a relatively tough operation, says an officer, as there are many unassuming persons who are part of this plot.

Vicky Nanjappa