INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 675
On September 7,2010, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police arrested Mirza Himayat Baig,who allegedly is the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Maharashtra, on a charge of masterminding the explosion at the German Bakery in Pune on February 13 last. According to the ATS, Shaikh Lalbaba Mohammed Hussain alias Bilal of Nashik was one of his accomplices.
2. Quoting Mr. Rakesh Maria, the head of the ATS, “The Hindu” of Chennai reported as follows on September 10:”Himayat Beg received one-to-one training in bomb-making in Colombo in 2008 from an absconding LET operative…Baig was called to Colombo by Fayyaz Qazi, a wanted LET operative, in March 2008. Accordingly, he traveled from Aurangabad (in Maharashtra) to Hyderabad and then to Chennai. From Chennai, he flew to Colombo. He was trained in Colombo for 15 days by Qazi himself and another operative whom Baig didn’t know. He was also trained on how to communicate with them. After he returned from Colombo, he was sent Rs.2.5 lakhs for changing his identity.”
3. “ The Hindu” also said in its report: “ Amid speculation about the choice of Colombo as a centre for training, Mr.Maria said the Sri Lankan city was chosen only as a meeting point and there was no other significance to it. Ruling out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or any other connection, he said: “There seems to be only two reasons for choosing Colombo—the access to the country is easy as there is a visa on arrival facility.”
4. In its report, the Press Trust of India has described Fayyaz Qazi as an activist of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who was wanted in connection with a case of 2006 involving the recovery of some arms in Aurangabad.
5.The use of Sri Lanka as a meeting point by the LET had earlier once come to notice. In December 2002, the Tamil Nadu Police claimed to have unearthed a new organisation, apparently inspired and controlled by jihadi elements in Saudi Arabia, called the Muslim Defence Force (MDF). Published reports about the Tamil Nadu Police's detection indicated as follows:
* One Abu Hamsa, alias Abdul Bari, an Indian Muslim living in Saudi Arabia and associated with the LET, and one Abu Omar, a Pakistani Muslim working there, had together formed the MDF after the Gujarat riots. They had also met a Muslim leader from Tamil Nadu who had gone to Saudi Arabia on haj pilgrimage.
* On his return to Tamil Nadu, this leader held a clandestine meeting at Tenkasi in Tiruvelveli district, which was attended by about 30 Muslims. At this meeting, plans for organising MDF activities in India were discussed.
* Subsequently, two of those, who had attended the Tenkasi meeting, went to Sri Lanka (the Eastern Province?), where they were to have another meeting with Abu Hamsa, but he did not turn up from Saudi Arabia. They, therefore, returned to Tamil Nadu without meeting him.
* Abu Hamsa alias Abdul Bari was wanted in connection with an explosion in Andhra Pradesh. He had given instructions to his contacts in Tamil Nadu to organise the activities of the MDF and also to float another organisation called New Vision to propagate Islam amongst the so-called backward classes of the Hindu community and recruit them for jihad.
* The associates of Abu Hamsa in Tamil Nadu were instructed to form an elite force to establish hide-outs and protect jihadi terrorists visiting Tamil Nadu and to recruit youth for training in jihad at an undisclosed destination in the Gulf.
* Amongst those arrested by the Tamil Nadu police during their investigation into the activities of the MDF was Noohu Thambi Hamid Bakri, described as a suspected sympathiser of the LET. He was the principal of the Ayesha Siddique Arabic College for Women at Kayalpattinam and also the President of the All-India Tauhid Jamath Federation. He also used to be associated with an organisation called the Kayal Islamic Defence Force, which is now believed to be dormant.
* It was Hamid Bakri, accompanied by one Zakkaria, who had met Abu Hamsa in Saudi Arabia and subsequently gone to Sri Lanka for another meeting, which did not materialise. In November, 2002, Zakkaria was allegedly in receipt of Rs.1,50,000 from Abu Hamsa in Saudi Arabia through hawala.
6.In my article of September 4,2007, titled JIHADI TERRORISM IN SOUTH INDIA: EXTERNAL MOTIVATORS -INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR--PAPER NO. 271 available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers24/paper2356.html , I had written as follows: “ It should be evident that for some years now there have been indicators of the cladestine creation of a jihadi web in Mumbai, south India and possibly in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, with the SIMI and the LET playing an active role in this matter, either in tandem or separately of each other. It is also evident that much of the inspiration and financial support for this came from Indian and Pakistani jihadi activists in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Important breakthroughs in connection with identifying the various strands of this web had been made by the police of Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but no attempt would appear to have been made for a co-ordinated effort to investigate and neutralise this web.” (10-9-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )