The arrested top SIMI leaders were believed to be planning major terror strikes in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and tourist spots in Goa while the police on Friday said the banned outfit once considered floating a dedicated group for carrying out suicide attacks.
Home Ministry sources said in Delhi that former SIMI chief Safdar Nagori and 12 other leaders, who were arrested in Indore on Wednesday night, chose Mumbai as it is the commercial hub and the other three cities were targetted since they were frequented by foreigners in large numbers.
"SIMI activists, under the leadership of former Chief Safdar Nagori, had arrived in Indore for the Organisation's annual meeting. From the preliminary inquiry, it seems they finalised training programme to its members during the meet," Indore Range IG Anil Kumar said in Indore.
The outfit's top leaders were arrested by Madhya Pradesh Police for allegedly being involved in weapons procurement and illegal financing of the outfit.
Among those arrested as part of a special police operation that began on Wednesday night were Safdar Nagori and his brother and chief of the operations in Andhra Pradesh Kamruddin. All of them were remanded to police custody till April 11 by a local court. Some more arrests are expected in the next few days, police said.
A Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad(ATS) officer said in Mumbai that one of the ideas floated at the SIMI conclave in Ujjain before the July 11 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts was to start a dedicated group for carrying out `fidayeen' (suicide) attacks but Nagori disapproved of it.
It was later decided between train blasts accused Ehtesham Siddiqui and three top SIMI leaders to divide SIMI into two groups, one of which will be the operations branch that will carry out strikes with the help of groups like the LeT and ISI, ATS sources said.