Joining the dots has always been a major concern for security agencies while handling cases pertaining to terrorism.
However, security agencies have something to smile about now, with the alleged mastermind in the Jaipur blasts case revealing key details about the Students Islamic Movement of India, which infact corroborates with the statements given by Riazuddin Nasir, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative arrested in Karnataka earlier this year.
Both investigating agencies as well as the Intelligence Bureau are now taking a relook at the statements given by the various SIMI operatives. If one looks at the statements given by Safdar Nagori, Riazuddin Nasir and now Shahbaz Hussain, it becomes clear that the all important meeting at Castle Rock, which is around 80 km from Hubli in northern Karnataka propelled SIMI into a different league.
All the above mentioned persons have stated during their interrogation that SIMI underwent a change, ideologically, during this all important meet on April 25, 2007.
Nagori had said during his interrogation that there was a vertical split in SIMI in which some of its members had decided to take a more peaceful path.
However, the Nagori faction had maintained after that the only way to take the fight forward was by using force. He said that this decision came in the wake of a meeting at Ujjain. Following the Ujjain meeting, the SIMI cadres under Nagori met at Castle Rock where they planned the next course of action.
IB sources told rediff.com that even Shahbaz Hussain confessed during his interrogation recently that they had planned a major strike in which they could get international attention. The initial plan warns to carry out a terror strike in Goa with the target being foreign tourists. This, according to them, would help in getting them international attention.
Nasir, during his interrogation, had said that he was assigned the task of first stealing vehicles and then driving them down to Goa. There he had planned to line up the bomb-laden vehicles and carry out a series of attacks. Shahbaz Hussain too confirmed during the interrogation that at the Castle Rock meeting they had planned a major attack in Goa. However, they had to cancel their plan as Nasir had been arrested by the Karnataka police.
The IB said that SIMI, which was more into providing logistic support all these years, wanted to come back with a bang. Although the Castle Rock meeting concentrated largely on an attack in Goa, there were discussions regarding a blast at Gujarat too. The plan to attack Gujarat was planned way back in 2005 during a meeting at Yavatmal in 2005.
It was here that Nagori told his cadres that the only way to fight was on a tit-for-tat basis. However, the plans to carry out an attack as early as 2006 did not materialise as there were differences among the members.
The IB said that by the time the outfit met at Castle Rock they had sorted out their differences and the meeting focused largely on the role to be played by SIMI in India operations. The meeting was headed by Nagori and was attended by the likes of Nasir, Hussain, Mufti Abu Basher, Peedical Shibly, Adnan, Yahya Kamakutty among others.
Nasir said during his interrogation that following the meeting at Castle Rock, some of the members met near the Hubli bus stand in a room where they assembled bombs. These bombs were carried to various parts of the country including Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. However, there were instructions to carry out the Goa attack first as the SIMI was desperately in need of worldwide recognition.
The first of the ideological changes that SIMI underwent during the Hubli meeting was that it no longer wanted to be identified as a students movement. The IB said that both Basher and Hussain, during their interrogation, said that they had decided to remove the age bar of 30 to be a member of the outfit. The membership was made open to all and also the clause of suspending members who went abroad was removed.
During the meeting Nagori had stressed on the fact that SIMI would take up the cause of Muslims worldwide and hence the word India would be removed from the outfit.