The banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is once again under the scanner for its alleged role in the 13/7 Mumbai serial blasts.
At least eight members of the banned group, currently missing, are believed to have played a key role in supporting the perpetrators of the blast, said sources in intelligence agencies.
These SIMI members helped those who assembled and planted the bombs with logistics support and accommodation. “The SIMI activists were asked to rent houses in various cities and were instructed to leave as soon as the attacks were carried out,” said a police officer, who did not want to be named.
The decision to strike was communicated to the extremist cadre of SIMI through Iqbal Bhatkal, a key Indian Mujahideen operative, and Abdus Subhan Qureshi, who is believed to be operating from a hideout in Nepal.
Earlier in March, an alert issued by the ministry of home affairs had seen state police departments launch a hunt for close to 80 SIMI members. “SIMI members were arrested from Kochi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat,” said a police officer. But some guys have slipped from the radar, said the officer.
He added that hunting down new SIMI members has become tough because of the many front organisations they have floated. This is the fallout of a meeting the group had had in November 2007. Then SIMI chief Misbah-ul-Haq had asked office bearers older than 30 years of age to start organisations on their own to continue spreading the outfit’s ideology. “There are more than 50 front organisations of SIMI and the number is increasing,” said sources in the intelligence bureau. Ashish Bhatia, inspector general of police heading anti-terrorist squad of Gujarat agreed. “They are, indeed, floating front organisations to escape the scanner. They have also modified SIMI to SIM to bypass the ban.”
‘IM improvised Surat bombs’
Investigations into the 13/7 Mumbai serial blasts are increasingly pointing toward Indian Mujahideen (IM), believed to be a front organisation of SIMI. Investigators say IM had improvised on the bombs used in Surat in 2008, to spread terror in Mumbai.
IM operative Mohammed Arif Badruddin Sheikh, 38, had told Mumbai Crime Branch after his arrest in September 2008 that the Surat bombs did not go off because of an error. It was the first time he had used a digital timer to trigger a bomb. The glitch, proven by Mumbai blasts, has been taken care of. A senior police officer said, “The circuits are similar, but they seem to have been improvised.” HTC