Indian Islamist groups planning to strike, warns intelligence

May 22, 2014 12:00 am | Updated 05:43 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Operatives are believed to be training at al-Qaeda-linked camps

Even as the National Investigation Agency announced the arrest of four fugitives alleged to have played a key role in the blasts that took place at Narendra Modi’s rally at Patna in October, intelligence officials have warned that Indian Islamist groups are preparing for a fresh round of attacks.

Intelligence sources said at least six former Indian Mujahideen operatives are believed to be training at al-Qaeda-linked camps in Pakistan’s war-torn North Waziristan province.

Mirza Shadab Beg, Shahnawaz Alam, Muhammad ‘Bada’ Sajid, Alamzeb Afridi, Shafi Armar and Sultan Armar — all members of the Indian Mujahideen’s Azamgarh and Bhatkal cells, who fled India in 2008-2009 — broke with the organisation after Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency forced its Karachi-based military commander, Riyaz Shahbandri, to scale back operations.

Earlier this year, the breakaway faction formed a new organisation, calling itself the Ansar-ul-Tauheed, or Army of the One True Faith.

In videotapes obtained by The Hindu , Ansar-ul-Tauheed operatives are seen training with assault weapons. “The Muslims of India are not powerless,” the videotape featuring the group warns.

“Their warriors are advancing towards you from Afghanistan, the blessed land of the one true faith. The same way we delivered carnage to you in times past, we will do so again.”

NIA officials say recruitment for the new groups is being carried out through a welter of front organisations, linked to the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

NIA Director-General Sharad Kumar identified one such overground organisation as the Indian Muslim Front — a religious study group linked to Omar Siddique and four other Chhattisgarh men held on charges of providing safe houses to the men charged with attacking Mr. Modi.

Haidar Ali, an alleged perpetrator of the Patna bombing held on Wednesday, was also linked to SIMI’s hardline faction, led by the incarcerated Islamist leader Safdar Nagori.

“SIMI under Safdar Nagori believed in strengthening the organisation to a level that would enable it to carry out large-scale attacks,” a senior NIA official told The Hindu . “However, after his arrest, his followers floated front outfits and were building up ties with other similar groups to carry out terror activities.”

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