The Patna attack was just the beginning, the alleged SIMI terrorist told NIA agents. His organisation has resolved to attack Narendra Modi wherever possible. Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com reports.
The National Investigation Agency's big catch used the alias 'Black Beauty' in the attempt to target Narendra Modi at the October 2013 rally in the Bihar capital.
Haider Ali, a 25-year-old Students Islamic Movement of India member, was arrested for his alleged role in the Patna blasts case on Wednesday.
Ali has revealed information about the outlawed SIMI's revival in the country. He told his National Investigation Agency interrogators that he was SIMI's coordinator with the Indian Mujahideen, the terror group accused of mounting several attacks across India since 2007.
Although both IM and SIMI share the same ideology and many objectives, they operate differently.
Ali's interrogation confirms that the Indian Mujahideen is version 2 of SIMI, NIA sources told this correspondent.
Ali told NIA agents that Modi is SIMI's prime target. SIMI, he said, had tried to penetrate the security ring around Modi in Patna last October, but failed. SIMI planned to conduct a series of blasts at and around the Patna rally to provoke panic, leading to a stampede and many casualties.
The Patna attack was just the beginning, the alleged SIMI terrorist told NIA agents. His organisation has resolved to attack Modi wherever possible.
SIMI, Ali said, has been looking to carry out an 'issue-based' attack. 'We did not want to carry out a blast just to harm people,' Ali told the NIA agents, agency sources told this correspondent. 'We wanted to convey a message and only when we attack for a cause does the message get conveyed. Such issue-based attacks also helps recruit more people.'
Ali revealed that SIMI's first 'issue-based' attack in recent years was the blast at Bodh Gaya last year.
'We coordinated with the Indian Mujahideen, which has a strong network in Bihar,' Ali told the NIA agents, agency sources told this correspondent. 'I disguised myself as a monk to plant the bomb (at Bodh Gaya). The attack was to support the Rohingya Muslims.'
The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have come under severe attack from that nation's Buddhist majority.
'While the attack gave us some attention, the issue was hijacked by international outfits,' Ali told the NIA interrogators, agency sources told this correspondent. 'That is when we felt SIMI needs issues that are India-oriented. We then hatched the plan to attack Modi's Patna rally.'
'We chose Bihar for various reasons. It has the strongest Indian Mujahideen module and this ensured that the logistics was taken care of. We found that security was extremely poor in Bihar, which helped us a great deal. I roped in youngsters for the Patna attack from Ranchi, my hometown,' Ali added. '(SIMI operative) Umer Siddiqui suggested we target Modi after the Bodh Gaya attack.'
'All through the planning stages and right before the Bodh Gaya attack, I was in touch with (IM operatives) Tehsin Akhtar and Yasin Bhatkal on Internet chat.'
'This is when I used 'Black Beauty' for the first time. The name has no significance -- I just liked it. I joined SIMI in 2004.'
Ali, an NIA agent told Rediff.com, is the son of a tailor in Ranchi. Though he learnt how to make bombs, he was not good at it. He was more a recruiter of terror personnel and wanted to revive SIMI.
"We will continue to question him," the NIA agent said. "We plan to bring him face to face with Tehsin and Yasin to find out more about the IM-SIMI nexus. Unless we crack this nexus, it will become a huge challenge."
Image: Police personnel rescue an injured man after serial blasts rocked Patna's Gandhi maidan during Narendra Modi's rally in October 2013. Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters