The Indian Mujahideen, which suffered a major blow after the arrest of its founder Yasin Bhatkal, is all set to make a comeback with a 'sticky' bomb usually used to target government officials. Vicky Nanjappa reports
There has been a lull in activities of the Indian Mujahideen, which is an indication that they are preparing for yet another deadly attack, warned experts.
The homegrown terror outfit has been keen to strike back after the Patna serial blasts last October. There is a possibility of an attack in May, they have predicted.
V S Subrahmanian, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, who studied the behavioural patterns of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and is now focusing on the IM, has warned that the latter will attack soon.
There are 770 variables that indicate towards an imminent strike. The most important being:
- The arrest of IM operatives
- Warming up of Indo-Pak relationship
- Religious conflict in India
- IM conference
- The outfit claiming responsibility for previous actions
- Release of propaganda material
While Subrahmanian’s study is part of data analysis, several other developments within the terror group support his claim.
The interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal
The co-founder of the IM is currently being interrogated in his home state Karnataka. His interrogation gives a chilling picture of what the IM is up to.
Talking about future attacks, Bhatkal told the police, “We are looking to improvise. There was a truck load of ammonium nitrate which we smuggled out of Karnataka and this has come handy in all our attacks.”
“We have experimented with bombs and have now decided that it is time to change the pattern. We have not had success with timers. Hence will stick to the old ‘quartz’ timer. We have decided to target moving vehicles and for this purpose mastered the art of the ‘sticky’ bomb,” he reportedly said during his interrogation.
The ‘sticky’ bomb was used in Delhi during at attack on an Israeli diplomat’s vehicle in February 2012. It is usually used to target security or government officials.
“Operatives can chase the vehicle and hurl a bomb at it. The device sticks to the car and can be triggered with a remote control or a timer,” Bhatkal told his interrogators.
Despite the forewarning, security agencies have an uphill task to stop the IM, which has now branched into two groups. While one faction is headed by Bihar operative Tehsin Akhtar, the other is controlled by Mirza Shahdab Baig from Pakistan, who has been part of every major blast in the country since 2005. He is aided by Mohammad Sajid.
Tehsin and his team control IM modules in Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. The cells in Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan and Gujarat are controlled by operatives based n Pakistan.
According to intelligence agencies, the IM spilt into two after it suffered a major blow following the arrest of Bhatkal and his accomplice Assadullah Akthar in August last year.
Tehsin immediately took over and carried out the blast at Patna. “It was a desperate attack. The IM would have caused damage on a larger scale had it been more oragnised,” said intelligence officials.
The IM has notoriously carried out devastating attacks like the 13/7 triple blasts in Mumbai in 2011. But at the moment they are weakened. Hence, they have branched out into splinter groups and continue to create menace, according to an Intelligence Bureau officer.
"This is something we have observed after a crackdown on the IM since 2010. When Bhatkal took charge, he tried to get the house in order. His arrest came has a major setback," he added.
Infighting has also worked against the IM. “Founders Riyaz Bhatkal and Amir Reza Khan have been asked to lay low after a tiff. Differences over monetary issues forced them to work separately. In their absence, Baig has been instructed to run the show,” the IB official said.
Iqbal Bhatkal meanwhile has been sent to Dubai to oversee the setting up of a new module, IB sources informed.
Image: Police and forensic officials examine a damaged Israeli embassy car after an explosion in New Delhi. A sticky bomb was used in this attack, say investigators