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Terror's new avatar: Unorganised fringe elements

Last updated on: August 29, 2011 17:45 IST

Unorganised fringe elements, terror's new avatar

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Terror attacks over the past nine months -- the Jama Masjid firing, the Varansi blasts and 13/7 bombings -- have left security agencies and investigators clueless. The reason? Today, the threat is not from outfits like the Indian Mujahideen or the Students' Islamic Movement of India, but fringe elements that may strike anytime. Vicky Nanjappa reports

The Jama Masjid firing rocked Delhi last September days before the Commonwealth Games. Two months later, a two-year-old was killed and 25 injured in an explosion at the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi. And the latest in the list of terror strikes is the 13/7 serial bombings in Mumbai that left 27 dead.

What's common among the three attacks? These strikes may have caused less destruction as compared to terror attacks of the past, but they have left security agencies groping in the dark. They continue to be unsolved mysteries.

The recent attacks paint a scary picture -- the threat from terrorism is ever growing and security agencies are finding it more and more difficult to get to the bottom of it all.        

According to a security expert, this is exactly what the Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups want. Cases of terror could be solved as long as the perpetrators were part of an organised syndicate, which is no longer is the case, said a counter-terror expert.

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Image: Police stand guard outside Jama Masjid after the shooting incident
Photographs: Reuters
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Regrouping of SIMI, IM put on hold

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Take for instance the series of attacks launched by the Indian Mujahideen or the Students Islamic Movement of India. There was a plan in place, there were sleeper cells and it was translated into a terror module before the foot soldiers carried out the attacks. The IM went a step ahead by using technology to carry out strikes, which led to clues that helped in cracking the cases.

However, the Jama Masjid firing, the Varanasi and 13/7 Mumbai attacks were chaotic and conventional methods were not used by terrorists to carry out the strikes.

Today, Intelligence Bureau officials point out that fringe elements belonging to SIMI were behind the attacks. "Although we have not been able to come to a definitive conclusion, we can say with confidence that some stray elements are responsible," said an IB source.

There have been sporadic attempts to regroup outfits such as the IM and SIMI in some parts of the country. However, the message from Pakistan is clear -- the regrouping will have to wait. What's more important is to spread terror and more essentially to ensure that Pakistan remains out of the trail.

 


Image: Onlookers stand at the site of a blast in Varanasi on Tuesday
Photographs: Reuters
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Recent terror strikes are revenge attacks

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After a spate of arrests in which the IM almost got busted, efforts were made to regroup the outfit by the likes of the Bhatkals and Amir Reza Khan, key functionaries of the IM. But they decided to take a backseat after the Delhi firing. They realised that some fringe elements, who had access to explosives in the country were carrying out these blasts, and this is a trend that was not going to stop.

What they also realised that some youths were equipped to continue the 'mission' without any aid from established modules in India or Pakistan. Hence, the handlers across the border decided to step back too and made no further attempts to regroup outfits, which were already under the scanner of security agencies.

The IB said the latest trend is that a group of four to five youths join hands and execute attacks. They are neither associated with SIMI or the IM and these outfits are clueless about those behind these strikes.

The recent attacks have been acts of revenge. The arrests of former SIMI general secretary Safdar Nagori and suspects in the Batla House encounter egg these youths on, said investigators.

Following the recent terror strikes, the IB has checked all communication to Pakistan, but in vain. The interrogation of various other SIMI and IM operatives has also yielded no results.

Image: Members of the bomb squad and Mumbai police at Zaveri Bazaar

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Self-motivated operatives, a growing threat

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The situation worsened after the Jama Masjid firing, but it was all triggered by the 2008 Bengaluru blasts carried out by T Nasir. Originally a part of SIMI, Nasir is said to be a self-motivated operative.

He managed to raise funds through a Gulf contact and with the help of a couple of labourers carried out the Bengaluru blasts. No one from the SIMI or the IM was aware of these attacks and Nasir soon became an inspiration for the young, who wanted to take to 'jihad'.

There may be a split in terror groups, but this is no good news, say those probing the strikes. A few like-minded youths getting together and coordinating attacks is more dangerous. The attacks may not be planned and may not be very effective in nature, but it continues to be a grave threat to security as they can strike any time.

But what has triggered these youth to take to terror? The Indian agencies can blame themselves to a large extent. The lack of proper investigation, which led to the arrests of innocent youth and men, has created fury among such groups. And this was exactly the motive of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. They appear to have succeeded in giving birth to elements, which can create a state of complete chaos through their uncoordinated efforts.


Image: Forensic experts inspect the site of a bomb blast in Bengaluru
Photographs: Reuters
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