Hours after the Delhi high court blast on Wednesday, media houses across the country received an email from Bangladesh-based terror group Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami claiming responsibility for the attack. On Thursday, another mail was received by media houses in Mumbai and Delhi purportedly written by one 'Chotoo' of the Indian Mujahideen saying that HuJI had no role to play in the blast. The IM claimed responsibility and also warned that another blast will take place at a shopping mall.
Whether the mails are authentic or not is what the investigating agencies are now probing. While the National Investigating Agency says that they are taking these mails seriously, the Intelligence Bureau feels it's more of a prank, but the mails will be verified.
While speaking to investigators looking into this case it becomes clear that there is no concrete lead as yet. The task before investigators is an uphill one and many questions remain unanswered. Was Wednesday's strike carried out by the HuJI or IM? Attacking the HC would serve whose interest? Which group is better equipped to carry out the attack? These questions and many more remain unanswered.
On Wednesday, investigators chased HuJI operatives and on Thursday they were behind the IM. Here's an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of both the terror outfits.
As of today, the HuJI is a more powerful outfit as compared to the IM. The HuJI has been banned and its wings are clipped, but it is more formidable, say insiders.
The IM comprises young blood and cannot be written off. But , it is their bravado that did them in. They openly challenged security forces and as a result became the hunted.
Moreover, the HuJI has a better network in place as compared to the IM. The modules of the latter are almost defunct. While there are fringe elements from the IM who are capable of carrying out attacks, they lack coordination because of the weakness in cadres.
Since the 2007 twin blasts in Hyderabad, masterminded by Shahid Bilal, the HuJI has maintained a low profile. Following this attack, the outfit was under scrutiny of security agencies and the police busted a few active cells and modules in south India. However, they failed to get their hands on those working in their modules in West Bengal, where the HuJI network is the strongest.
A stark difference between the IM and the HuJI can be seen from their recruits. While the IM depended heavily on sophisticated cadres who were tech savvy and educated, HuJI roped in those who needed the money. The IM stuck to an ideology and the HuJI carried out revenge attacks.
But when it comes to Wednesday's Delhi high court blast, insiders say the possibility of IM being behind the attack is more that the HuJI, as the former has more hatred towards the capital following the Batla House encounter. The 2008 incident against suspected IM terrorists by the Delhi police is often used to whip up sentiments and recruit cadres. Since then the outfit is always looking for an opportunity to embarrass the police force. For the IM, the encounter is a bigger incident than the Babri Masjid demolition or the Godhra riots.
Moreover, the IM is upset with the ban and blames the judiciary for it and hence could have a possible interest in attacking the Delhi high court.
As far as the operations of the HuJI are concerned, it works more as the sister concern for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The LeT is trying to spread its network across the globe and is slowly handling over its operations in India to HuJI.
If one were to analyse HuJI's interest in the Delhi attack it would be in connection to the Kashmir issue. The mail sent by the outfit clearly states that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately and they warned of more attacks on high courts and the Supreme Court. The hanging of the Parliament attacker is a sentimental issue in the Valley.
Reports by both the army and the IB suggest that terror groups have managed to ride on the sentiments of locals as far as the Afzal Guru issue is concerned. The HuJI, which is planning to take over from the LeT, is could have possibly looked at making a start in Kashmir by winning over the public, say insiders.
The HuJI clearly emerges as a stronger group and the Delhi attack is too small an operation to be undertaken by them. Moreover, their leader Ilyas Kashmiri is not a man who will involve himself in an attack so small in nature.
The IB points out that this could be either a hurried operation or an attack just to test the waters. Groups such as the HuJI would ideally like to attack bigger establishments such as embassies and would ensure that the casualties are huge. Moreover, they have been training fidayeen-style attacks not bombings.
The Delhi attack is therefore more likely to be carried out by the IM. The hand of self-motivated cadres who are on the loose cannot be ruled out. Unlike the HuJI they are not capable of carrying out a fidayeen strike on bigger establishments. However, in places, which have weak security, and are crowded a threat from the IM continues to persist.