The Indian Mujahideen has used the lull to turn deadlier, reports Vicky Nanjappa
Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the Indian Mujahideen module that was busted recently had links with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
The statement by the minister has thrown the veil off the operations of the IM, India's deadliest terror group.
It was believed that for the past one year the IM was working on its own after Pakistan had ditched the outfit.
The initial leads the police got after the spate of terror attacks unleashed in the country was that a group of self-motivated youth had regrouped and carried out the attacks on their own.
However, the investigations of the youth who were arrested by the special team of Delhi police revealed that the remote control for this module was with the deadly Pakistan-based Lashkar.
Ever since the first module of the IM was busted post Operation BAD (ie, IM's plot to attack Bangalore-Ahmedabad-Delhi), there has been talk of the outfit going down.
However, in the eyes of Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence, the IM is the best home-grown terror outfit that they have provided so far.
What makes the IM a valuable asset for the ISI is that not only does it have a local flavour but also comprises a set of very dedicated, daredevil youth.
There is hardly any brainwashing that is needed to get into the IM, and more often than not the cadres have voluntarily joined the group.
While the terror group initially relied on incidents such as Babri Masjid demolition or the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat to brainwash youth, the new batch of recruits have taken it upon themselves to 'save' their community.
This is exactly what is making the IM deadly, as it has become a kind of movement within.
This being the case, it would be extremely difficult for the ISI not to come into the picture when the cadres are down.
There was a deliberate attempt made to lie low and throw the police off-trail. In fact, the cadres were even told that in case of an arrest each one would state that the IM was down and out. This strategy worked to a certain extent and the interrogation of Danish Riyaz, the 'most wanted' IM operative arrested in connection with the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts, proves the same.
He successfully managed to dodge investigaors by telling them that the IM did not exist any longer. The likes of Salman who was arrested on the Nepal border also adopted the same trick. While the police did stay on guard, they nevertheless slackened a bit which resulted in a spate of attacks on Indian soil.
The ploy by the Lashkar and the ISI was clear. They brought down the number of recruitments and decided that they would only use the existing cadres for operations.
Moreover, there was a sudden shift of operations from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh to Bihar. The tendency by the police is always to look to Azamgarh when the IM is in question. This time, however, they found no such activity in this area, which threw them off the trail, and by the time the police realised it the damage was already done.
The biggest trail the Lashkar and ISI managed to protect was money. Moreover, the use of technology was also brought down a great deal. The operations that were carried out by 'IM version 2' were low profile compared to the attacks of three years back.
Their communication was on a face-to-face basis rather than via the internet or the cell phone. The recent operations have also been inexpensive to mount, and this again was a deliberate attempt to not leave any money trail.
The Lashkar felt that while there was no need to carry out big attacks as of now, it was at the same time important to keep the ball rolling in order to enthuse youth to join the outfit.
Delhi police sources say the interrogation of some of these cadres point directly at a Pakistan link. Some of them were in touch with the operatives such as the Bhatkal brothers who are currently in that country.