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The link between Bangalore plot and HuJI: Majid Bilal

By Vicky Nanjappa
September 04, 2012 14:56 IST
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While reporting the developments in the recently-busted assassination plot, the media has brazenly stated that many of the men arrested from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Nanded have connections with terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami.

Media reports have claimed that some of the arrested suspects had a HuJI link and all recruitments were done by the Bangladesh-based outfit.

The investigators probing the case are trying very hard to establish this link but they also face the problem of the youth dodging investigations by leaking stories which are difficult to confirm.

According to the police, the arrested men were self-motivated and had planned a local operation. Will an international outfit like the HuJI interfere in such a local operation?

HuJI's track record indicates that it has favoured such local operations and its primary target areas have been Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The connection between the Bangalore case and the HuJI could be a man called Majid Bilal, brother of deceased HuJI operative Shahid Bilal, who was accused of masterminding the twin blasts in Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in Hyderabad.

Majid, who is believed to be in Saudi Arabia, is suspected to be the handler of the youth arrested during the recent crackdown. He allegedly took over the operation after his brother Shahid was killed in an encounter. Majid is considered to be well-connected in areas in the old city of Hyderabad.

Traces of a HuJI link in southern India were first found during a fidayeen attack in 2005.

A couple of years later, in police firing following the blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Shahid Bilal's friend Mujahid Saleem was killed. This incident eventually led to a more aggressive version of the HuJI, according to Intelligence Bureau reports.

The twin blasts in Hyderabad was masterminded by Shahid Bilal, who was later killed in an encounter in Pakistan.

Majid Bilal was picked up by the police on charges of being involved in the twin blasts. It was alleged that he had purchased the SIM cards which were used in the mobile phones that triggered off the twin blasts. However, he was acquitted of the charges and soon left for Saudi Arabia.

According to investigators, the arrested suspects have named Majid as their handler who controlled the operation. The Hyderabad police believe that Majid, via his brother's contacts, is in touch with some HuJI operatives and they have been planning operations involving specific targets.

Some experts believe that this is a fringe module of the HuJI which is trying to create trouble by eliminating people who they perceive as a threat, in order to create communal tension.

Intelligence Bureau officials believe that although the HuJI does not supervise the operations of the module very closely, it may still allow some of its operatives to carry out smaller tasks to keep the situation tense. These smaller groups operate in Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Through smaller but consistent operations, they try to gain some control and instill fear.

HuJI's original aim was to 'Islamise' Pakistan and Bangladesh; it fancies itself as being the 'second line of defence' for every Muslim and focuses on assassinations of progressive intellectuals.

When HuJI first decided to make a foray in south India, it wanted to go on a recruitment spree and unite like-minded Muslims. Like other terror groups, it relied heavily on communal tensions to indoctrinate youth into their fold.

Shahid Bilal had become a major force in the HuJI when the outfit's operations started in south India in 2005.

Intelligence Bureau officials point out that that while planning bigger operations may be time consuming and difficult for HuJI, it could encourage smaller operatives to function and carry out self-motivated operations, to keep the situation tense.

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Vicky Nanjappa