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Bangalore, Hyderabad may be next terror targets

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | September 03, 2003 16:10 IST
Last Updated: September 03, 2003 18:18 IST

After targeting Mumbai, India's financial capital, terrorist groups may now turn their attention to the booming information technology centres of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Central intelligence agencies have inputs to believe that the Students Islamic Movement of India, the group suspected of involvement in a series of blasts in Mumbai in the past seven months, may help smaller, local groups engineer blasts in the two southern cities.

Also see: Probe into Mumbai blasts leads south

The agencies have warned that a loose network of SIMI activists and sympathisers pose a grave threat to southern India, which has come to symbolise India's technological advance.

Information technology behemoths Infosys and Wipro are headquartered in Bangalore, while Hyderabad is home to Satyam Computers.

A detailed dossier on SIMI available with the Union home ministry says the radical Islamic group has a solid presence in south India.

SIMI was banned by the Centre on September 27, 2001.

Intelligence agencies believe more attacks are in the offing and will conform to the theme defined by the attacks in Mumbai -- an assault on India's economic muscle.

A home ministry note points out that SIMI has contacts with terrorist groups based in Pakistan and elsewhere and its operations are being funded by international Islamic groups.

"SIMI's links with militancy have been in evidence intermittently since 1992, but the investigations of 14 cases of terrorist violence, which had caused 15 deaths and injuries to 80 others in UP and Delhi in 2000-2001, exposed a deep nexus between SIMI and the Hizbul Mujhahideen," the note says.

According to some estimates, SIMI has approximately 360 ansars (basic members), 5,400 odd ikhwans (associate members) and over 63,000 awans (sympathisers). "That is an amazing network capable of striking terror across India. These numbers should have dwindled since the organisation was banned in 2001," an intelligence official said.

SIMI is still active in Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Assam.

Government agencies believe SIMI continues to receive funds not only from local supporters, members and sale of qurbani hides, but also from 'foreign sources.' 

SIMI's active presence in urban centres is responsible for more and more educated professionals joining terror groups, they say.

The SIMI network "may not anymore be a cohesive national body," but its members and sympathisers are "operating independently," a senior officer said. This trend is quite discernible in Mumbai, he added.


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