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What are Indian Mujahideen operatives doing in Afghanistan?

By Vicky Nanjappa
June 13, 2014 13:15 IST
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The Indian Mujhaideen does not want to be an India-centric outfit anymore and is keen on joining forces with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Vicky Najappa/ reports     

Around 30 operatives of the Indian Mujahideen are in Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in their operations against Western forces. The National Investigation Agency, which has been interrogating top Indian Mujahideen operatives like Yasin Bhatkal, Tehsin Akthar, Waqas Ahmed and Assadullah Akthar, has said that the IM was not keen on working with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence anymore as it ‘treats them like garbage’ and instead wanted to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is happy to receive help as it plans to expand its operations. In exchange for the Indian Mujahideen’s assistance in Afghanistan, the Taliban is likely to help out the IM in India.     

The IM operatives said that the Taliban’s help will be crucial for them as they are a committed force and unlike the ISI does not have multiple agendas. Their sole purpose is to destroy any anti-Islam nation. 

Pakistan national Waqas Ahmed and a surprise entrant in the Indian Mujahideen is said to be the man who convinced the IM to join hands with the Taliban.

The Indian Mujahideen was set up as a purely Indian based outfit to avoid the Pakistan angle. However, sending Waqas was Riyaz Bhatkal's idea, as he too felt that the IM needs to stop reporting to the ISI and aide with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The IM’s style of attack changed after Waqas joined the outfit. It now sought to make a statement to gain the attention of the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda. They started speaking less about Indian Muslims and shifted focus to global issues. There were repeated messages on the Afghan cause. When the Rohingya Muslims issue was raked up by the Al-Qaeda, the IM hurriedly planned the Bodh Gaya attack in Bihar. All these were ideas given by Waqas. 

Waqas has been part of the Indian Mujahideen since the 2011 Mumbai blasts. He was part of the core team to oversee IM’s transition from being just a homegrown outfit. 

An officer with the National Investigation Agency probing the case told that thought the Indian Mujahideen sounded ambitious it was hard to tell how successful it has been in penetrating the Taliban or the Al Qaeda.  

An officer with the Intelligence Bureau said that groups such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban have been carrying out fedayeen attacks with the help of foreign fighters. The recent attack at the Karachi airport in Pakistan saw a lot of such fighters. But they are a bit sceptical about taking Indians into their fold. Although these groups may not include Indian operatives in their top leadership, there is a good chance they may use them to achieve their anti-India agenda.

The main agenda of the Al-Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban and Taliban in Afghanistan is not India. They are more focused on their war against the West. The IM would find it difficult as of now to find a solid place in these outfits, an IB officer said.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore