Even as investigators are trying to find out whether Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Usmani’s escape from the sessions court premises was a planned move or by chance, the incident has put security establishments in a fix.
Sources in a central intelligence agency told HT that it would be an uphill task to trace Usmani again as he is an old hand in the IM, which functions as a front for Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Once he sneaks out of India, Usmani won’t find it difficult to seek refuge among Lashkar sympathisers in any other country, especially in South Asia, sources said.
According to sources, the IM still has many modules (mostly sleeper cells) in several states in the country. These may provide a safe shelter to Usmani as he is not only known for his proximity to the founding members of the terror group, but also played a key role in executing many operations in the past.
“One of our biggest concerns is that he is a master car thief and can move around easily without worrying about transport. This will make it even more difficult for us to trace him,” said a senior crime branch officer on condition of anonymity.
Usmani’s escape has also sent alarm bells ringing in security establishments. “He is known for roping in young blood with his motivational skills [such as IM operative Peerbhoy]. He will certainly try to regroup the organisation and plan out strikes,” the official said, adding, “It may not happen immediately as he will lay low for some time.”
The official said Usmani is likely to find shelter in some part of the country where surveillance is less or an area that has no history of breeding terror. “Our search is going to focus on those places,” he said.