They recruited Indian Muslim youth and trained them in Pakistan terror camps
NEW DELHI: A group of Indians in Saudi Arabia with deep links back home and abroad, especially in Pakistan, are emerging as key suspects besides the Lashkar-e-Taiba leadership in the investigations into the Mumbai attacks.
They are believed to be key associates of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and avid followers of the pan-Islamic ideology of Taliban and Al Qaeda. Over the past several years, especially after the Gujarat riots, this group has recruited dozens of Indian Muslim youth, trained them in terrorist camps in Pakistan, mostly run by LeT , and has probably been executing serial bombings in Indian cities under the name of Indian Mujahideen.
Investigators suspect the group played a crucial role in arranging logistical support and probably providing some terrorists for the Mumbai attacks.
This group may have also taken logistical support from the Mumbai underworld, especially the smuggling racket linked to Dawood Ibrahim. The name of a customs clearance agent based in Colaba, who is believed to be Dawood’s frontman in smuggling, has also emerged.
According to more than a couple of sources in the security establishment, Abdul Bari, a Hyderabad resident is one of the key figures of this NRI network operating mainly from Saudi Arabia.
Bari is believed to be the key financier of the Indian Mujahideen group. The other is CAM Basheer, an aeronautical engineer who as the all-India chief of SIMI in the late ‘80s gave it an extremist makeover in response to Advani’s rath yatra which resulted in the Babri Masjid demolition.
Basheer is also believed to be the first non-Kashmiri Indian Muslim to train LeT’s terror camps. It is also emerging that the attacks in Mumbai may be a huge leap of capability for the masterminds of all recent terror strikes across India in recent years. That investigators had failed to get to the root of the conspiracy behind the wave of attacks on Indian cities may have emboldened them, and resulted in the audacious sea-borne route for striking Mumbai.
Investigations into the killing of four Kerala youths in Kashmir while they were on their way to Lashkar’s terror camps in Pakistan has thrown up credible evidence that they had been paid by the Saudi group.
This network remains the prime suspect as far as the domestic angle of the Mumbai attacks is concerned, investigators say. During investigations into the Indian Mujahideen, indications had emerged that Bari may be a key financier of IM, but no concrete proof was available. And the Mumbai police had blamed underworld figures such as Riyaz Bhatkal and Amir Raza Khan for creating the Indian Mujahideen. Sources are beginning to believe that the underworld figures colluded with the ideologues of violence such as Bari and Basheer to create Indian Mujahideen.
Given the group’s key contacts in Hyderabad, Deccan Mujahideen may not be just another name.
CAM Basheer’s name had first figured in an investigation into a local train blast in Mulund in 2003, which was carried out by the LeT with active support of some SIMI members. “The links have all been there, now we are trying to piece them together,” says an official, admitting to the lack of much information on this huge network that is wrecking havoc across India.