The arrest of Indian Mujahideen operative Abdul Sattar is proving to be a boon for the National Investigation Agency which has found that a Students Islamic Movement of India activist based in Dubai had acted as a key middleman in the setting up of the IM.
Barring the Vagamon SIMI training camp which gave birth to the IM, the NIA didn’t have many details on any Kerala operative. They have now found that Suhaib Pottanikkal, a SIMI operative, is based out of Dubai and helps in arranging meetings between operatives from his state and cadres of the IM.
According to the NIA, Pottainikkal hails from Thirurangadi in Mallapuram district, in Kerala. A source said he arranged an important meeting between fugitive IM terrorist Abdul Sattar and top commander Riyaz Bhatkal.
Following the camp in 2007, the IM was rearing to go all out against India, but was falling short in some quarters, so the meeting proved to be extremely important for the terror outfit.
Funding was a major problem, which they had to take care of by themselves, since Pakistan had decided that this proxy outfit of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba needed to run on its own.
It was during the course of this meeting that Bhatkal discussed the modalities of the funding. It was decided that none of the Kerala cadres would come into the picture where operations were concerned, but they would help move funds from the Gulf which in turn would be distributed among other IM cadres.
Since then, the Kerala module has been instrumental in diverting a large sum of money coming in through a hawala network for terror-related operations in India.
Sattar had assured Bhatkal that he would create a formidable route to pump in the money. The network grew further with Pottainikkal arranging yet another meeting which comprised Sattar, and other operatives, T Nasir and Abdul Rahim.
By this time, Bhatkal had gone to Dubai to hold further meetings. However, he was sent back by Pottainikkal to Kuttipuram in Kerala. Each of these operatives had a different role to play.
While Nasir subscribed to the ideology of the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Bhatkal and Sattar continued to look after the funding operation. Rahim was sent to Kashmir, but was killed in an encounter. It was only after this encounter that it was revealed that Kerala operatives were being roped in for the Kashmir battle too.
An NIA source told rediff.com that the Kerala module was the most intense, but very complicated. “They have lots of splinter groups which are all inter-connected. Each plays a different role, but the motive remains the same,” said the source.
Sattar, who had told the NIA about how the IM was born after the Vagamon camp, also told his interrogators that the majority of the funding for IM comes in from various channels in Kerala. There is a dedicated group which handles the incoming hawala funds and channelises them through various sources to different parts of the country, he is believed to have said.