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IM still trying to raise suicide squad

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2011 23:59 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
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Security officials were concerned when a charred body with some wires sticking to it was recovered from Zaveri Bazar, one of the sites of the blasts in Mumbai on Wednesday.

But preliminary enquiries suggest the body was of a labourer who bore the brunt of the blast, and not of a human bomb. What forced the security establishment to have a hard look at the matter was that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) leadership, now reportedly sheltered in Pakistan, have long nursed the idea of carrying out suicide bombings in India.

According to intelligence sources, the IM was planning to form a fidayeen squad, named Shaheed al Zarqawi Brigade after an al Qaeda leader who was killed in Iraq.

But the IM had to shelve the plan with its Azamgarh unit leader, Atif Amin, who was handling the project, getting killed in the Batla House encounter in Delhi on September 19, 2008.

Two years later, an IM operative told investigators that the leader of the outfit, Riyaz Bhatkal, wanted to send a fidayeen attacker from Pakistan to India via Nepal.

According to the sources, Ameen had motivated at least two boys to become fidayeen. Investigators are looking for one of them, Mirza Shadab Beg, but he is still on the run.

The Indian agencies arrested Salman, alias Chotu, who was part of the Azamgarh module. Salman crossed over to Nepal with a few other IM operatives when the news of the Batla House encounter reached him in Lucknow.

The sources said the IM team managed to get forged Nepali passports before taking a flight to Sharjah, where they contacted top IM leader Amir Raza Khan in Karachi.

Khan later came – bringing along another top IM leader, Iqbal Bhatkal – and discussed the plan to launch suicide attacks on tourist places and high-profile targets.

Salman told his interrogators that he had visited Karachi in December 2009 and met Riyaz Bhatkal, the younger brother of Iqbal and head of the southern module of IM.