INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO 738
Between November 2007 and September 13,2008, the group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) had sent five E-mail messages to sections of the media.
2.The first message was sent a few minutes before the serial blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh on November 23, 2007. The second was sent after the blasts in Jaipur in May, 2008. The third was sent before the blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008. The fourth was sent after the press conference held by the Gujarat Police in August, 2008, in which they claimed to have solved the case relating to the Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts, identified the perpetrators and arrested many of them. According to the Gujarat police version, it was the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was operating as the IM. The firfth message was sent before the blasts in New Delhi on September 13, 2008.
3.The first, second, third and fifth messages claimed responsibility for the blasts and the fourth debunked the claims of the Gujarat Police of having solved the case and tried to convey the impression that the arrested persons had nothing to do with the blasts. Surprisingly, the IM did not send any E-mail message claiming responsibility for the serial blasts in Bangalore on July 25, 2008.
4. Intriguingly, the IM described its E-mail message on the New Delhi blasts of September,2008, as "our third consecutive E-mail ". It said: "The INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN accepts the sole responsibility of Delhi serial blasts, and we claim this, through our third consecutive email, which is, unfortunately, still a mystery for you. It is very sad to see the bad condition of your cyber forensics who have still failed to find out our technique of sending the “Message of Death”."
5.Why did the IM, after the Delhi blasts, talk of only three E-mail messages, when the media had received five , all purporting to be from the IM?
6. A study of the five E-mail messages made by me in September,2008, indicated the following:
a).While the first two E-mail messages were virulent in their content, they were not obnoxiously abusive in their language. The last three messages were not only virulent in their content, but also obnoxious in their language. In the message about the Ahmedabad blasts, they had used the word bastard which normally Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are not known to use. The message on the New Delhi blasts was even more abusive than the two messages regarding the blasts in Ahmedabad. P. C. Pandey, the DG of Police of Gujarat, was called a rascal, a bastard, a corrupt old hag, a base-born criminal and a filthy loyal dog of Narendra Modi. As pointed out by me at that time, such abuses were typical of the Mafia underworld of Mumbai and Gujarat.
(b).The Gujarat Police and the Rajasthan Police and their Police chiefs were severely condemned and a specific threat of terrorist attack was also held out against A.K.Jain of the Rajasthan Police. But, significantly, there was no criticism of the Karnataka Police and its chief. There was not even a reference to the investigation by the Bangalore Police, whereas the investigations by the Ahmedabad and Jaipur police were debunked and their claims of having solved the cases were questioned. Similarly, there was no reference to the UP Police investigation of the blasts of November 2007.
(c ).The language used in the third and fourth messages about the Ahmedabad blasts and the fifth message about the New Delhi blasts, which were very abusive, differed from the language used in the first message about the UP blasts and the second about the Jaipur blasts.
7.I had commented as follows in my assessment of these messages : “Why such discrepancies ( in language)? It is important to find answers to them before we come to definitive conclusions about the IM. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the terrorist is in the catching. Unless and until we are able to identify and neutralise or arrest the right persons, who are the brains behind the IM, we will have more surprises. We have arrested many perpetrators of individual blasts, but I am not sure we have arrested the brains. By thinking and prematurely projecting that we have identified and arrested the brains, we will make ourselves liable for more surprises, which could damage the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public.”
8. In the message after the Delhi blasts of September,2008, many State Governments were criticised for their alleged harassment of the Muslims, but the main brunt of the criticism was against Maharashtra and the Mumbai Police.
9. I had then assessed as follows: “ From these messages, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective such as the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate or the "liberation" of the Muslims of India. Its objective till now is purely tactical to wreak vengeance on the Hindutva organisations and the various State Governments accused of harassing the Muslims. New Delhi seemed to have been targeted not only to exhibit their capability for action in the capital, but also to wreak vengeance on the Government of India for its failure to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992. The message says: "Babri Masjid was and will remain to be our glorious self esteem and Inshallah, we will prove it to you a hornet’s nest in which you have immersed your bare hand, unaware of the pain to come. If you are prepared to suffer the results of this issue, then by the will of Allah, verily! We will make you face it, and if you feel you are wise enough, then here we announce our ultimatum: Vacate the land of Babri as soon as you can."
10.The Mumbai Police announced on October 6,2008, the arrest of 20 suspected members of the IM, who had played a role in the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26,2008, in the abortive attempt to organise similar blasts in Surat the next day and in the serial blasts in New Delhi on September 13,2008.
11. Among those arrested were four IT-savvy members of the IM, who had played a role in sending the E-mail messages in the name of the IM before and after the Ahmedabad blasts and before the New Delhi blasts by hacking into Wi-fi networks in Mumbai and Navin Mumbai. These were :
Mohammed Mansoor Asgar Peerbhoy aka Munawar aka Mannu. A 31-year-old resident of Pune, who was reportedly working for Yahoo, India, on an annual salary of Rs. 19 lakhs (US $ 45,000).
Mubin Kadar Shaikh, a 24-year-old graduate of computer science from Pune.
Asif Bashir Shaikh, a 22-year-old mechanical engineer from Pune. In addition to helping in sending the E-mail messages, he also reportedly played a role in planting 18 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Surat, all of which failed to explode.
Mohammed Ismail Chaudhary, a 28-year-old computer mechanic, who was also suspected to have helped in planting the IEDs in Surat.
12.After these arrests in Mumbai, the IM stopped disseminating messages. There were no more terrorist stikes in which its involvement was established .There was almost total silence by the IM.
13.The IM started messaging again on September 19,2010, after a silence of nearly two years after the Delhi blasts of September,2008. A statement purported to have been issued by the IM was disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010. It referred to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also referred to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir during 2010 crossed 100 (September 17).
14.The statement was in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes and had few of the kind of obnoxious abuses seen in the messages of 2007-08. It had been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran.
15.Many of the religious allusions in the message had been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden was not mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message had been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July, 2007. It read: "O,Allah, deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones; O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There were only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One did not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them was converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials.
16.The statement did not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19,2010, in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by motor-cycle-borne individuals. However, it indirectly hinted at IM’s responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."
17.In a reference to the Commonwealth Games, it said: "On the one hand Muslim blood is flowing like water, while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of games. This is surely not a Child's play. Mind you this is the initiative from the Lions of Allah and we warn you to host the Commonwealth Games if you have a grain of salt. We know that the preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware we too are preparing in full swing for a Great Surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life."
18.It had highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life." While over 75 per cent of the statement was about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there were also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 2010 and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. The IM was not able to carry out its threat against the Commonwealth Games.
19.A message dated December 6, 2010, purporting to be from the IM indirectly claiming responsibility for the explosion in Varanasi on December 7,2010, was received by the media outlets to which it was addressed after the explosion had taken place. It differed from the message of the IM sent on September 19, 2010, in one significant aspect. It avoided any allusions to the messages of Osama bin Laden and was free of bin Laden like language and rhetoric. It had not borrowed from the past messages of bin Laden. It sought to project the IM as a purely indigenous movement, but needing the support of the Islamic world.
20.It warned the Hindus of continued attacks on Hindu holy places till all Masjids (mosques) belonging to the Muslims were restored to them. It was critical of the Indian criminal justice system, which was projected as anti-Muslim. This has been a recurring theme of all IM messages disseminated since the explosions in Uttar Pradesh in November, 2007. It warned moderate Indian Muslim leaders not to barter away the rights of the Muslims on the Babri Masjid issue. The salient points in this IM message, which was quite detailed, were as follows:
Criticism of the Judiciary: "The Supreme Court, the high courts, the lower courts and all the Commissions have utterly failed to play an impartial role regarding Muslim issues. Narendra Modi who presided over the 2002 massacres of Muslims in Gujarat is given a clean chit whereas the victims still run from pillar to post for justice. Even the 92 Mumbai culprits roam freely and enjoy Government security. All the anti-Muslim pre-planned riots, arson, rapes, losses of lives and properties are still awaiting justice. The list is endless!"
Criticism of the Congress (I): "It needs no mention that time and again the Congress party with its hidden agenda has shown its true colors. Be it the inaction over the planting of the idol in 1949 or the shilanyaas, the ground-breaking ceremony of 1989 and finally the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. For all practical reasons the Masjid site has since been transformed into a Mandir (temple), thanks to the Supreme Court order to maintain Status-quo."
Warning of More Attacks on Hindu Holy Places: "Our memories are still fresh and our hearts still bleeding over every Muslim brother and sister who was hacked to death after the demolition of Babri masjid. Indian history is decorated with countless state-sponsored terror and state-managed riots. Indeed every martyr enlivens the ummah. We will not budge until every inch of the Masjid is regained and lives of our martyrs avenged. We will strike terror in the hearts and minds of these idol worshippers until the mountain of injustice is undone. We will leave no stone unturned come what may till the anger of believer’s hearts is removed and a Magnificent Masjid is built at the same spot. We are fully aware of your preparations at the Babri Masjid site for the construction of a ‘grand temple’ over the corpses of our martyrs all over the country. The Indian Mujahideen warn these filthy Hindu zealots that even if a Grand Temple of Gold is built over the Babri Masjid we will destroy it at all costs. Remember! It was a Masjid, It is a Masjid and It will always remain a Masjid. At this juncture Muslims are silent due to their state of affairs. We hereby invite all our Muslim brethren to never be weak-hearted over the designs of these idolators and urge them to strengthen their faith in Allah and unite for the cause of Islam. Surely, victory is awaiting us. Be assured that Indian Mujahideen, the sons of Mahmud Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Aurangzeb have resolved that none of your Mandirs will remain safe until and unless all our occupied Masjids throughout India are returned back to the Muslims with honour. "
Caution to Indian Muslim Leaders: "Neither the All India Muslim Personal Law Board nor the Babri Masjid Action Committee nor the Sunni Waqf Board nor any litigant has any right to alter or compromise on any of these aspects whatsoever regarding the Babri Masjid. All sorts of bartering and bargaining is totally unacceptable to Allah and thus to the Muslims. We urge those ulema to behave sensibly, change their attitude towards this Holy Cause, fear Allah alone, come forward, inspire and motivate the people and thus appease none but Allah alone. We hereby declare that even if all the ulema, scholars and Muslim leaders collectively deviate from or refuse Allah and Prophet’s Verdict, their decision will be right beneath our feet."
The Kashmir Issue: "The manhandling and heckling of Kashmiri leadership in Indian cities is not at all a minor issue. These insane and cowardly Saffron Hindus on the behest of the IB (Intelligence Bureau) and the administration pounce upon weak people. As usual we are going through minute details of the matter and have obtained vital clues of the mischief which we presume to be inappropriate to be divulged at this point of time. Meanwhile we request the respected Syed Ali Shah Geelani Saheb and the Mirwaiz to maintain their self-respect and dignity. These sons of monkeys and snakes will never heed to sensible arguments and historical facts. Please don’t waste your time with these lowly creatures as they will never understand!"
Appeal to the Islamic World to Support Indian Muslims: "We appeal to all the Muslim countries to voice their concerns regarding oppression and injustice done by India upon their fellow brethren. It is their duty to pressurize this ‘Empire of Falsehood and Tyranny’ regarding the longstanding Kashmir issue where world’s largest concentration of armed forces in an occupied territory stands. This ‘Hollow superpower’, needs to be told loudly and clearly that it should get over its obsession with Muslims in India and that the Global Muslim Ummah is seriously concerned about the issues like Babri Masjid and Kashmir."
21.From this, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective. It is still an organisation of tactical, reprisal terrorism determined to avenge the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the alleged atrocities against Muslims in different parts of India, including J&K, and what it sees as the unfair attitude of the judiciary towards Muslims.
22.I have not covered in this note the latest messages purporting to be from the IM received after the blast outside the Delhi High Court on September 7,2011, since their authenticity has not yet been established. ( 11-9-11)
( 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 Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )