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Revealed: How SIMI works
Vicky Nanjappa
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June 05, 2008
The Students Islamic Movement of India, which was outlawed in 2001, is back in the news following last November's blasts in Uttar Pradesh and last month's Jaipur terror attack.

The Jaipur blasts reveal that SIMI is still active, and the recent spate of arrests in Bangalore and Indore have not deterred the organisation. According to Intelligence Bureau sources, SIMI provides logistical support to the Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Tayiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihadi.

An IB dossier on the organisation indicates that SIMI split into two in 2006. The dossier was prepared following the interrogation of SIMI General Secretary Safdar Nagori, who was arrested on March 26 in Indore. It says SIMI, which had an active membership of 400 members across the country, split into two groups of 300 and 100 each.

Despite the split and the spate of arrests in early 2008, IB sources say the group has about 250 active members in various parts of the country. Security agencies had believed the arrest of around 20 SIMI activists including Nagori, P A Shibli (secretary general) and Yahya Kamakutty (president, Karnataka zone) would bring SIMI to heel.

The split showed up serious ideological differences between the two factions. According to Nagori's confession, he developed differences with Dr Shahid Badr Falahi, SIMI's former president, over the organisation's political role. He also had differences with current SIMI president Misba-ul-Islam. Nagori advocated an aggressive approach while Misba-ul-Islam argued for a more moderate one.

To sort out the dispute, a meeting was held at Ujjain on July 6, 2006. At the meeting several members voiced their support for Nagori and broke away to form a separate outfit.

Members of the Misba-ul-Islam faction have gone underground, but there are no reports this outfit is involved in terrorism. On the other hand, the Nagori faction tied up with Lashkar and Harkat and helped those organisations undertake terror attacks.

Nagori claimed he even organised an all women unit, the Shaheen Force. During his interrogation, he revealed he had recruited 200 women.

'We decided on recruiting women as we felt they were more reliable,' he told his interrogators. He said the women were told to identify young Muslim youth and brainwash them into taking up jihad. Detectives feel the Shaheen Force could have played a role in both the UP and Jaipur blasts.

Nagori revealed that the women would train the youth in stages. The youth are first convinced that they need to fight for their religion. They are then handed over provocative audio/video clippings which selectively depict the atrocities being committed on Muslims by the West and Israel in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Algeria, and Bosnia. Apart from this they are made to watch documentaries which highlight incidents in Jammu and Kashmir [Images], Gujarat and Ayodhya. The women, according to Nagori, are told to concentrate on the Gujarat riots while speaking to the likely recruits.

Once the young men are convinced to take the jihadi path, the role of the Shaheen Force ends. The youth are handed over to their male counterparts for training in arms and explosives.

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