Was it the Indian media which inadvertently gave top terror outfit "Indian Mujahideen" (IM), its name? According to a statement given by IM co-founder and top leader Yasin Bhatkal to Indian security agencies, their group was called "Usaba" and was formed in 2014. However, in 2007, after the Uttar Pradesh (UP) courts blasts, they sent an email to various media houses across the country claiming responsibilities for the attack. The term 'Indian Mujahideen' was instantly picked up by the media and even IM members liked the name, so it stuck.
Sometime in March 2004, a person by the name Master Bashir alias Talah resident of the Nadua area in UP, came to Bhatkal. He indoctrinated and motivated Riyaz Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Yasin Bhatkal and a few others to join jihad. "Under the aegis of Master Bashir a group was formed and called Usaba," said a police officer. Usaba is an Arabic word, which means, a congregation or a group of men, which is more than 11 and less than 40, the source added.
According to the statement given by Yasin Bhatkal, the main objective of Usaba was to collect people with same mentality and dedication to do something (which in this case was Jihad or holy war against Hindus and India.)
The first group of Usaba operatives included Yasin, Iqbal, Riyaz, Jasim, Shabbir, Sajid, Afeef, Gora Ismail, Sultan, Tariq Anjum and Fasih Mahmood. "Meetings of Usaba used to take place every Friday in Bhatkal in Iqbal's house, where they would discuss issues like weapons training, finance, talent spotting, spiritual discourse and other matters pertaining to procurement and logistics were discussed," said a senior police officer.
Everybody in the outfit was given specific roles; Iqbal was elected the Amir of Usaba and his job was to arrange for funds. Jasim was given the responsibility of organising training courses, including driving, horse riding, swimming etc., for all the group members, the officer said.
Yasin Bhatkal was given the task of procurement of weapons. While Sultan was in-charge of collecting news clips about current status and issues of Muslims from different newspapers and media sources. Shabbir was tasked with giving training in Islamic studies. Afeef and Riyaz were given the task of media management.
As the group expanded its operations, it also included the operatives from Azamgarh, Pune and other places in India, the police said.
After being in operation for three years, the group was still called Usaba and a suitable name had not been decided for the outfit. "Things changed, when after the UP courts blasts in 2007, the outfit sent an email to various media houses in India claiming responsibility for the blasts," the officer said.
The term "Indian Mujahideen" mentioned in the email sent was picked up instantly by the media and the nomenclature of "Indian Mujahideen" was given to the outfit. The new nomenclature was liked by the operatives and was thus used in the subsequent emails along with a designed logo.