Security around Jewish sites and places frequented by Israelis across India has been tightened to pre-empt a possible Indian Mujahideen (IM) strike. Arrested IM leader Yasin Bhatkal, has told his NIA interrogators that his team had been working on a plot to take “foreign Jews” hostage when he had been caught.
This indicates IM is shifting from being a self-proclaimed avenger of attacks on Indian Muslims to a more international, pan-Islamic agenda, say Indian and Israeli sources.
An alert following this threat has been issued nation-wide, confirmed top police officials in Goa. Mumbai in Maharashtra and Goa have been especially sensitised and security has been increased around Chabad houses--- a Chabad house is a home for religious Jews set up by the Chabad movement and India has 20 such centres---and other Jewish sites. The alert was issued around Jewish New Year on September 3-4, 2013.
Though Bhatkal and fellow IM member, Asadullah Akhtar, are in police custody, two other members of his IM terror team Waqas, from Pakistan, and Tehseen Akhtar, alias Monu from Bihar, are still at large.
Bhatkal’s team received their new orders to get Jewish hostages sometime after they had carried out blasts in Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad in February 2013.
The presumption is that the IM plot may have been part of an attempt to negotiate the surrender of some other jihadi prisoners. During the January 2013, Algerian hostage crisis, for example, the Islamic terrorists involved had demanded the release of al-Qaeda bio-weapons expert, Pakistani-born Aafia Siddiqui.
The 2010 IM attack on the German Bakery in Pune was partial fallout of an earlier order to bomb and attack places frequented by foreigners, including Israelis. The Bakery was close to a local Chabad house.
In past, IM has attempted to adopt a pan-Islamic agenda but has found this has turned off potential recruits in India where the radicalising events have been the Gujarat riots or the Babri Masjid demolition.
There is speculation that IM has become “tainted” by al Qaeda supporters in Pakistan or, potentially, al Qaeda-supporters within the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence who have supported IM and given Bhatkal haven in Pakistan.