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Home > India > News > Columnists > B Raman

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Another step in ISI-sponsored Indianisation of jihad

July 27, 2008

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Thirty-eight innocent civilians are reported to have been killed and over 100 injured in 16 serial blasts which struck Ahmedabad on the evening of July 26. This is the third state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party to be struck by jihadi terrorists, who have remained unidentified by the police and intelligence agencies so far.

A few minutes before the blasts, an e-mail purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen is reported to have been received by Indian authorities warning them of the impending attacks and challenging them to stop them, if they can. They couldn't. Jaipur was targeted in May and Bengaluru on July 25.

he blasts in Ahmedabad were of medium intensity meant to kill and the sequencing was well-timed and well-orchestrated. The fact that some of the improvised explosive devices were kept in confined spaces such as inside a bus would indicate that the intention was to kill many. The Bengaluru blasts were in open spaces.

The third serial blasts in succession in a BJP-ruled state would clearly indicate that the blasts were targeting the BJP governments in particular. It is important to urgently strengthen security in all states in general and in BJP-ruled states in particular -- especially Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Many senior office-bearers of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police.

The serial explosions in three cities in Uttar Pradesh last November were not connected with the BJP. They came in the wake of the judgments delivered last year in respect of the Mumbai serial blasts of March 12, 1993 and the Coimbatore serial blasts of February 1998. In both the cases, a number of jihadis were found guilty and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

They also came after the arrest of three suspected members of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in UP, who were alleged to have planned to kidnap a dignitary in order to secure the release of Afzal Guru, who has been sentenced to death for his role in the terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001. His mercy petition is under examination by the Government of India.

The arrested Jaish terrorists were alleged to have been beaten up by some lawyers when they were brought to the court. The local lawyers also reportedly refused to defend terrorists in future. From these circumstances, it appeared that the explosions were meant to intimidate the criminal justice community, particularly the lawyers.

An e-mail message purported to be from the Indian Mujahideen received by some television channels before the UP explosions, while hinting that blasts were about to take place, referred to explosions in two and not three cities. The Indian Mujahideen did not refer to any organisation, but said Indian Muslims had decided to wage a jihad.

In justification of this decision, it referred to the severe penalties awarded to the accused in the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, and the lack of action against police officers who allegedly committed atrocities on Muslims. It also referred to the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the assault on arrested Jaish suspects by some lawyers. The message was not only a warning of their intention to act, but also an explanation as to why.

The main point, which the sender of the message sought to convey was that the criminal justice system treated Muslims severely, but was lenient to Hindus. The language used was typically Indian, the context and arguments used were typical of Indian Muslims, and the issues raised were those which had been agitating the minds of sections of Indian Muslims such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, lack of action against the Mumbai police officers who were found guilty of excesses by the Justice Srikrishna inquiry commission, the severe penalties awarded to Muslims who had retaliated in March 1993, and the Gujarat riots.

The e-mail admitted that Muslims were responsible for the explosions in Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai and in a restaurant and park in Hyderabad, but said they were not responsible for the blasts in Malegaon in September 2006, on the Samjhauta Express, and the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad in May 2007. It was silent on the blast in Ajmer Sharif, a dargah famous for its tolerant Sufi traditions. The e-mail warned that their next targets would be police officers.

Almost 24 hours after the blasts in Jaipur in May, two television channels in New Delhi reported receiving an anonymous e-mail claiming responsibility for the explosions on behalf of a group called 'the Indian Mujahideen'. The message was purported to have been sent by guru_alhindi_jaipur@yahoo.co.uk.

The most significant aspect about this message was that it had included the picture of one of the cycles alleged to have been used in Jaipur, with the number of the cycle readable. The picture was found to be authentic. This gave rise to the possibility that the Uttar Pradesh and Jaipur blasts were carried out by the same group.

On the basis of reports received last year, I had assessed on January 30 that while continuing to give financial, training and arms assistance to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan was encouraging the Lashkar to rely only on Indian Muslims for its operations in Indian territory and not to depute Pakistani Muslims for this purpose.

It was evident that the ISI had also started following a similar policy in respect of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami by encouraging it to set up a separate organisation for India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community with no involvement of Pakistani Muslims. The HUJI headquarters are located in Pakistan. It has an active branch in Bangladesh, consisting only of Bangladeshi nationals of the Afghan war (1980s and 1990s) vintage, which is referred to by US counter-terrorism experts as the HUJI-B. Members of the HUJI-B were coming to India for organising terrorist strikes with the co-operation of recruits from the Indian Muslim community.

I had further assessed that a HUJI set-up in India consisting of recruits from the Indian Muslim community has now come up which could be projected in future as a purely Indian organisation with no Pakistani or Bangladeshi involvement.

I had further assessed as follows: 'It is only a question of time before the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al Qaeda [Images] itself set up their own outfits or sleeper cells in India consisting only of Indian Muslims so that these too could be projected as indigenous Muslim organisations of India and not as Pakistani or Arab organisations. The pan-Islamic jihad in India to support Al Qaeda's pan-Islamic objectives is sought to be given an Indian facade with the encouragement of the ISI.'

The blasts in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad mark a further step in the ISI-sponsored Indianisation of jihad. The Indianised jihad is presently targeted against the BJP, but it could turn against the American and Israeli presence in India in due course.


B Raman



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