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Terror gets a new face

The Taqfiris could easily be members of the upwardly mobile urban set, writes Haidar Naqvi.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2006 03:38 IST

The Taqfiris could easily be members of the upwardly mobile urban set.

Party animals, ladies men, smart dressers — they are all that. They also love alcohol, are well-read, composed, polite and funny. But underneath all this they are die-hard, undetectable terorists.

The goal of Taqfiri, militant Haroon Rashid says, is “to blend into corrupt societies to plot attacks against them better”.

Rashid is an electrical engineer from the Aligarh Muslim University. He worked with a shipping company in Singapore. His job was to wire money from Pakistan to support LeT operations in India.

Last year, he had infiltrated the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Kanpur as a technical apprentice. Two moths later he met his UP boss Salim Salar with an operational blue print of an attack on HAL. The attack could not materialise and Rashid was arrested.

An intelligence officer said about this Taqfiri: “No one would even dream that someone seemingly so decent could be a terrorist with the greatest conviction. He is simple, suave, educated, and with all qualities one may want in their children.”

This change in the face of terror was responsible for intelligence agencies missing the signs leading up to attacks in Varanasi, Ayodhya and the July train blasts in Mumbai.

The Varanasi and Ayodhya terrorist attack cases are still unsolved. Intelligence men officials only now acknowledge that the terror symbolised by abnormal looking, bearded men in skulls caps is a thing of the past. And that its latest transition is both lethal and extremely tough to crack.

Presence on college campuses

The transition has been taking place since year 2000, with only youths of 22-25 years setting off explosions in the Hindi heartland. It is exemplified by the likes of Syed Wasif Haider, a manager with a Belgian pharmaceutical company married to a Hindu girl.

Intelligence agencies have also failed to detect vital alliances terror groups have forged with Muslim student bodies such as the Students Islamic Movement of India and their presence on college campuses.

“Not only looks and body language have changed, but the terror groups are also investing more in educated youths and the best technologies,” says an official.

He points out that the most popular face of terror — the Salafis, the followers of 14h century Syrian scholar Ibn Taymiya — are out. Reason they are spotted easily.

Khurshid Shah has a Masters degree in Physics from Pakistan. He could have avoided detection had his comrades not aroused suspicion in Badgam district of J&K on September 15. As it turned out, Shah was a specialist in setting off blasts through cell-phones. His circuits are among the best in India.

Taqfiris: Origin and Beliefs

Terrorism watchers say the Islamic ideology Taqfir wal Hijra began getting adherents among Eygptian extremist groups in the 1960s. The ideology was developed by Syed Qutub but spread by an agricultural engineer, Shukri Mustafa. The Taqfiris denounce other Muslims as unbelievers and call for withdrawal into a purity of the kind Prophet Mohammad practised. The ideology provides religious justification to eliminate not just unbelievers but even apostate Muslims

“Taqfir is like a sect: once you are in, you are never able to get out, this ideology is a sort of Islamic fascism,” says a religious cleric unwilling to be identified. Taqfirs rely on brainwashing and extreme discipline to weed out weak links. The members can kill infidels and Muslims who differ with them ideologically and take their property.

They are allowed to lie, steal and kill or do anything to create an Islamic state.

Email Haider Naqvi: haidernaqvi @hindustantimes.com

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