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Threat of revenge strike looms

Terror outfits operating in India, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Indian Mujahideen (IM), could try to execute a spectacular strike to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden as many IM operatives draw inspiration from the slain al Qaeda chief, a senior official in India's security establishment said on Monday,

delhi Updated: May 03, 2011 00:50 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

Terror outfits operating in India, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Indian Mujahideen (IM), could try to execute a spectacular strike to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden as many IM operatives draw inspiration from the slain al Qaeda chief, a senior official in India's security establishment said on Monday,

According to sources, an alleged IM operative Shahzad Ahmad had told interrogators after his arrest in early 2010 that Atif Ameen, the IM leader responsible for serial bomb blasts in Jaipur, Delhi and Ahmedabad, had ties with al Qaeda and had visited Afghanistan as well. Atif was killed in the Batla House encounter in September 2008. This information could not be verified further but Shahzad also told his interrogators that at the time of joining Atif's group, he was given a book, 'Milestone', authored by Sayyid Qutb who was executed in Egypt in 1966 on charges of plotting a regime change. Qutb's writings greatly influenced bin Laden in his early days.

Sources said Jama Masjid firing and Varanasi blast have shown that IM is still very potent.

So far al Qaeda has never taken responsibility for any terror strike in India but security sources are not discounting any indirect bearing on Indian security. A senior intelligence official told HT, "Al Qaeda is a very loosely structured organisation and Osama had more of a symbolic value than operational importance. So we believe that even in the absence of Osama, al Qaeda and its affiliates will remain potent as they were."

Former IB chief Ajit Doval said Osama's killing may trigger some action by Pakistan's terrorist groups in India. He suggested that India should be cautious of emerging threats and develop its strategies to tackle them. The threats may compound if Pakistan continues to adopt the dualistic policy of fighting terrorism for global consumption and supporting them for furthering its hidden agenda.

According to an official, “Another worrying thought is if Pakistan has helped in the operation to kill Osama, it might try extracting its pound of flesh by seeking a blind eye from the US for its Kashmir activities. We will have to keep a tight vigil on any possible quid pro quo between Pakistan and the US.”

(With inputs from PTI)