G. Anand

They belonged to the now defunct Islamic Seva Sangh and forged links with Lashkar-e-Taiba

Four of the five they sent to Pakistan for training were shot dead by the Army last year

Thiruvananthapuram: The ideological roots of the Keralites charged with triggering explosions in Bangalore, Surat and Hyderabad last year could be traced to the now defunct Islamic Seva Sangh (ISS), a cadre organisation formed in Kerala in the 1990s.

Kerala police officials said they were yet to find any evidence linking the suspects “operationally” to the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) or its suspected front organisations.

The ex-ISS men had on their own attempted to link “Jihadist minded” Malayalam-speaking Muslim youth with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, for martial training and indoctrination.

They said the suspects used the cover of a predominantly Sufi religious body based in Hyderabad, Nooreshah Thareeqat, to bring impressionable Muslim youth into their radical path. Nazir, 35, son of a rich businessman in Kannur, was one of the principal recruiters. The police said he was one of the “six central figures” responsible for “inspiring and helping” five Muslim men from Kerala to cross over to Pakistan from Kashmir last year to be trained by the LeT.

The Indian Army killed four of them. The fifth, Jabbar, who survived the Army ambush, was arrested by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of the Kerala police from Hyderabad recently.

The Karnataka police are now questioning him in connection with the Bangalore blast case. Jabbar told his interrogators that the LeT operatives trained him for a week in Kashmir and later armed him with an AK-47 assault rifle for making the cross over to Pakistan. The LeT handlers, he said, ridiculed him about his dark complexion and South Indian origin.

Abdul Sattar alias Sainudeen, the main suspect in the Bangalore blast case, harboured the five men in Hyderabad and his ISS associate, Abdul Hameed alias Amir Ali, helped them in New Delhi on their journey to Pakistan through the Kashmir valley.

Abdul Hameed, a Karate instructor and ISS strong man, fled Kerala in 2000 after the police charged him with plotting the murder of the then Chief Minister E. K. Nayanar for arresting Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Abdul Nassar Mahdhani. He assumed the name of Amir Ali in New Delhi, acquired a voter’s identity card under that name. The JIT traced him in New Delhi. Its undercover members travelled with him on a train to Kerala and arrested him when they arrived at the Kasargode railway station.

The Kerala police have arrested 12 persons, mostly former ISS men, in connection with the conspiracy to send men for training in Pakistan.