The Indian Mujahideen is becoming more dangerous and can strike at short notice. Also the outfit is less dependent on Pakistan support and control lies totally within India, say sources. Vicky Nanjappa reports
The Indian Mujahideen can strike at short notice, warned the Centre on Thursday. The Patna blasts, which were planned and executed in less than 20 days, are an indicator.
Interrogation of several Indian Mujahideen operatives including Yasin Bhatkal paints a chilling picture of what the homegrown outfit is capable of.
Highly ambitious, the IM today can carry out an attack anywhere at will.
A reign of chaos is what they propose and for this they are ready to experiment. That explains a series of low intensity blasts like the ones in Patna and Bodh Gaya, say investigators.
“Recently, they have been planting more than six bombs. The idea is to carry out serial blasts. For this purpose, smaller bombs have been prepared so that the foot soldiers can carry more of them,” said an investigation officer.
“The bigger bombs cause a bigger impact in terms of death. But when six bombs go off at short intervals they tend to create panic,” he said.
Investigators admit that stopping the IM is an uphill task. The arrest of its co-founder Yasin Bhatkal or the busting of the Darbhanga module does not seem to deter them. In fact, it is only post-Bhatkal’s arrest that the outfit carried out an attack with a high-profile target -- Narendra Modi -- in mind.
“The IM today has become a bloodhound without a leash. They do subscribe to the instructions of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Inter-Services Intelligence, but the control is entirely in India. They are free to unleash attacks without a go ahead from their bosses in Pakistan,” said a National Investigation Agency official probing IM’s activities.
“The intercepts between the IM and the ISI recently have been few and in between. It’s a well thought of ploy. At the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the IM continues attacks, but this without fingers being pointed at them,” he added.
No longer does IM send its recruits to Pakistan to train in assembling explosives. Top operatives like Bhatkal, Assadullah Akthar and Tehsin Akhtar have passed on their expertise to newer recruits. “This has ended one more link to Pakistan,” the official pointed out.
The bigger concern of investigators is IM’s bomb factory. Operatives ensure that the material is not sourced from one place. For the Patna blasts, the ammonium nitrate came from Andhra Pradesh and the timers from Rajasthan.
When it comes to bomb-making the IM is experimental. While ammonium nitrate is always used in the composition, the packaging often changes. Pressure cookers, suitcases, milk cans have been used to place bombs; even pipe bombs have been popular.
The timers too have evolved. Earlier, mobile phones were used, but Bhatkal realised that they could be easily tracked and did away with the practice. The classic clock timer was a safer bet, they realised. Before his arrest Bhatkal is said to have experimented with the digital timer.
From Babri to Modi
The outfit may have seen a lot of change in its leadership and modus operandi recently, but its ideology remains the same. It is always looking for young impressionable men whom they can recruit in the outfit.
The social media has been a key tool for the IM to spread its words. They use the Babri Masjid demolition or the Godhra riots to instill hatred among the youths. Also, it taps youth who are keen to make a quick buck.
“The outfit keeps improvising and it is not the job of the NIA alone to track them. A lot of cooperation is required from state level and Intelligence Bureau officials to be a step ahead of them,” an investigating agency officer said.